All about Fats – Trim and Tone with Pleasure (S²ER²)
It is common knowledge that our health is usually what we eat. The risk of many health issues such as obesity, stroke, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases could be minimized with a healthy nutritious diet. There are many risk factors (excess fat, sugar, salt, smooking …) that could contribute to poor health. Our main focus today however will be on Fats.
In our previous sessions, we said that one of the main reason we gain weight is because of the amount of fat we consume on a daily basis. As much as fat is necessary for our daily healthy balanced diet, we have to be careful how much of it we feed our body with. If there is one thing you want to avoid, it is saturated fat. Eating a diet that is high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in the blood, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. Health experts recommend cutting down on all fats and replacing saturated fat with some unsaturated fat. Remember, a gram of fat, whether saturated or unsaturated, provides 9kcal of energy compared with 4kcal for carbohydrate and protein.
In light of all these, you might wonder, why eat fat at all? Because, a small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet.
- Fat helps the body absorb vitamins A, D and E. Since these vitamins are fat-soluble, they can only be absorbed with the help of fats.
- Fat is also the source of our body’s most essential fatty acids such as omega-3 (Mackerel, rapeseed oil) and omega-6 (Wheat germ oil, nuts) – essential because the body can’t make them itself.
So, how do we get along with fat?
Set theory: How much fat is enough
To live a healthy lifestyle, the average man should eat no more than 80 g of fat a day and the average woman should eat no more than 60 g of fat a day. Saturated fat should not be more than 30 g for the average man and not more than 20 g a day for the average woman, with children eating less. If you want to lose weight, it is advisable to eat between 40-50 g of fat a day for the average woman and between 60-70 g a day for the average man. Now, depending on how much fat you have previously been consuming and how much you weigh, a reasonable reduction will still help you lose weight. Take for example an obese individual who has been consuming 120 g of fat daily, a cut-down to 90-100 g daily will still result in weight loss.
What kind of fat
To live a healthy lifestyle, it simply does not suffice to count the amount of your daily fat intake, but it is more important to watch out what kind of fat you consume. The main types of fat found in food are saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Most fats and oils contain both saturated and unsaturated fats in different proportions.
As part of a healthy diet, you should try to cut down on foods and drinks high in saturated fats and trans fats and replace some of them with unsaturated fats. Saturated fat is found mostly in animal fat, such as in butter and margarine, lard, sausages, bacon, fatty cuts of meat, cheese, cream, pies, biscuits, cakes, and in vegetable fat such as coconut oil and palm-kernel oil (not the same as red palm-fruit oil, although this, especially when oxidized, also contain a high level of saturated oil). Unsaturated oil could be found in vegetable oils (olive oil, rapeseed oil), avocados and nuts (almonds, peanuts).
Thus instead of using animal fat, use more vegetable oils. Instead of eating meat and sausages, eat more vegetables, rice, potatoes, pasta, bread (whole meal recommended).
Check a list of some fat rich foods and their healthy alternative here: Hidden Fat
The Right Choice: Shop wisely
Healthy eating starts with healthy shopping. What you buy at the grocery store is what you’ll serve on your dining table and eventually what you will end up eating. Thus consciously set out to choose the right food. Avoid the temptation of buying unhealthy food item that are on sale. Make it a habit to:
- Use a shopping list always – it will help you avoid the temptation of buying on impulse
- Do not do groceries when you are hungry – a hungry stomach is a call for loading your cart with fat rich and unhealthy food
- Control the nutritional value and ingredients on the package – most packages carry the fat content labelled. It will make your decision easier to choose what is rich / low in fat.
- Choose low-fat items: be careful about all food item marked light! “Light” does not necessarily mean low-fat. A piece of “light sausage” can still contain more fat than a piece of ham.
- Because a food item is listed “Diet food”, doesn’t necessarily mean they are low in fat. Diet foods are intended for special diets. Please always check on the fat content.
Frequently eating more energy (calories) than you need, whether it’s from fat, carbohydrate or protein, increases your risk of becoming overweight or obese, which can increase your cholesterol level.
The fat you eat is broken down during digestion into smaller units of fat called fatty acids. Any fat not used by your body’s cells or to create energy is converted into body fat. Likewise, unused carbohydrate and protein are also converted into body fat.
Therefore, it is important to eat the right proportion of fat and to exercise regularly. Exercising will help you burn off all the excess. Endurance sport is ideal for this purpose – walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling are recommended – they do not only rev up your metabolism but also affect the heart and circulation positively. Start at a slow pace and gradually build up. If you are not too sure, consult a health physician before starting any exercise (we’ll talk details about exercising in a later issue.)
Although not all, these are some of the most important things about fat you should be aware of. However, when it comes to healthy lifestyle, you are better off focusing on your overall diet than on individual nutrients such as fat or sugar. A balanced and nutritious diet is considered one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing diseases, and your best shot at losing weight and keeping it. Our purpose here is to help you in this journey.
Now you have understood, why we gain weight and some of the errors we make in dieting, the role of various nutrients in our diet especially the role of fat in our gaining weight, resulting in different illnesses, in our next issue, we will be getting into the practicalities of what and how to eat to loss weight and keep it, the road to a fulfilling healthy lifestyle.
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The content to our series Trim and Tone with Pleasure – S²ER²: The secret to lose weight and keep it is for information purposes only. All information contained here in no way constitutes a substitute for professional advice by a qualified practitioner. We urge all readers to seek the professional advice of an MD or relevant qualified persons before starting any diet. We cannot be held responsible for damage or inconvenience caused by the use or misuse of our information.
Posted on March 21, 2016, in Features/Essays/Articles, Sports and tagged Carbs, Diet, Fat, Health, Healthy, Healthy Lifestyle, LifeStyle, lose weight, Protein, Tone, Weight. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.