Eating fat makes you fat right? Wrong. Eating anything in excess of your calorie requirements makes you fat. Excess Carbs, Fats or Proteins can do that.
The first thing people do when they want to lose a few pounds is cut out the fat. They switch to low-fat everything in an attempt to trim down. It sounds sensible in theory but in practice, you really need to be looking at the ingredient list in supposedly 'low-fat' foods and drinks.
A lot of the time these foods and drinks aren't necessarily low in calories! The fat content may have been reduced in a lab by adding artificial flavours/colours/sweeteners to replace that satisfying taste and texture we get from fat. But, fat is also often replaced with SUGAR! To make sure you know what you're consuming, always check the energy content and nutrition label.
USEFUL FACT: As per EU labelling legislation (which we abide to), for a product to be labelled 'low fat', 'reduced fat', 'lite or light', it has to contain >30% less fat than a similar product. What does this mean? Well, say you're looking at lard. A lower-fat version of lard has to be 30% lower than the fat in the standard version. This is still high in fat! The same principle applies to all food and drinks so check your labels.
Lower fat products may give the impression of healthiness but they often lack key nutrients. Anything that has been artificially processed to remove or reduce an ingredient or change it's natural state, may have eroded the biological value.
For a recap on this, read our previous blog post on Balanced Nutrition. The key to a healthy, balanced nutrition is to ensure 2 VITAL things:
1) The right balance of Macro-nutrients...the carbs, fat & protein; and,
2) the right amount of Micro-nutrients...the vitamins & minerals within these food groups.
If you eat a low-fat version of a food you may not get as much nourishment or goodness from it. You could end up with vitamin/mineral deficiencies which is not what we want. But doesn't eating full-fat stuff make us fat? Simply put, no. What results in weight gain is an excess of calories from any food group over our daily requirement. We blame fat because we tend not to want to eat as much carbs or protein. They are not as palatable...fat tastes much better! It's not the enemy though. Here's a couple of fun facts you might not know about FAT:
1) We need fat to metabolise protein properly. So there's no point drinking your protein shakes and eating healthily without eating fat to help balance things out. Top tip - mix your protein shake with whole milk two hours after working out. If you need help calculating how much fat you need, you need to start with your Basal Metabolic Rate and then work out how to split your calories in our Balanced Diet blog.
2) Fats are a much more stable form of energy compared to glucose from carbs which trigger an insulin response.
3) Ketones (found in fats) have been shown to demonstrate anti-aging properties.
4) You need slow-release carbs to avoid ketosis when eating fats. Again, it's all about balance at each meal. Aim to get your protein in too for the magic trio!
5) Fat is a source of essential fatty acids e.g. omega-3. They are called "essential" because the body can't make them itself so needs an outside source.
6) Fat help our bodies to absorb key vitamins such as A, D and E which are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning they can only be absorbed with the help of fats.
Choosing your fats
We're trying to shed a positive light on FAT today but not all fats are created equal!
The main types of fat found in food are saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Most fats contain both types in different proportions. The UK government advises that we cut down on food and drink which is high in saturated fats and in particular trans fats (a type of man-made saturated fat) and replace them with unsaturated. However, as we've been saying, everything in moderation. Some saturated fats are required in your diet. Sources include creams, cheese and coconut oil.
Unsaturated fats are found mainly in plants and oils and can either be polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. The one we want more of are the monounsaturated fats because their level of 'good' HDL cholesterol helps to protect our hearts while while reducing levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol.
So, where can you find monounsaturated fats? Here's a few good sources:
- Olive Oil
- Nuts such as peanuts, almonds and brazils
Win win win (if you love these foods as much as we do!).
So, the moral of the story, if you want to lose weight, you need to get fat. Sounds ridiculous we know but that's because fat has a bad reputation. Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk has no way near the nutritional quality of whole-fat milk. They are both thin and don't taste of much so you're likely to add gallons more on cereals or tea to compensate. Whole milk actually has the same amount of carbs and protein as the skimmed varieties plus, vitally, more healthy fats. It's not just of benefit to your waistline either. Fat helps regulate hormones in the body and keep your hair and skin nice and healthy & shiny.
We hoped you enjoyed reading and stay tuned for more nutrition blogs coming soon:)