There’s a common misconception that a low fat diet means no fat. In reality, fat is needed to transport nutrients and other valuable materials through the body. Therefore, it’s good to ingest some fat, but most overweight people wind up taking in double the amount of fat they need.
As a general rule, your total fat intake should not exceed 20% of your daily calories. To break it down, less than 7% should come from saturated fat, 1% or less from trans fat and cholesterol should not be more than 300mg.
Let’s talk a minute about “good fats.” It’s true than low fat diets are important to maintaining a healthy heart and general fitness; however, “good fat” and “good cholesterol” (HDL) can be found in foods like salmon, vegetable oil, nuts, olives and avocados. Good fat is essential in transporting vitamins like A, K, E and D throughout the body, in addition to cushioning the vital organs and providing energy. When cooking, try using extra virgin olive oil.
For salads, add a few tablespoons of flax seed, a handful of walnuts or a salad dressing made of vinegar and olive oil. Try to include more salmon, tuna and mackerel into your diet, either literally or through a fish oil supplement, which is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
“Bad fats” are trans fats: margarines, shortening, deep fried chips, fast food, baked goods, hydrogenated vegetable oil. The reason they have such a bad wrap is that they’re known for lowering HDL cholesterol, which is the kind your body needs to function, as well as increasing triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol that leads to heart disease and diabetes.
Saturated fats found in whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, red meat, coconuts and chocolate should also be limited for the same reasons. Fat from these sources should be 16 grams or less for a 2,000 calorie diet. For those looking to actually lose weight, the saturated fats should be less than 12 grams.
A low fat diet doesn’t have to taste gross. Think of your new diet as a “detox” program for the heart and body. Like with alcoholism or drug abuse, you’ll experience some initial discomfort as you attempt to wean yourself off the sugar, the salt, the cholesterol and the calories your body was so accustomed to getting.
With such an abundance of junk food and “convenience” foods on the market, it’s understandable how many Americans can fall into this trap. However, you’ve made the right decision to control your eating before it kills you!
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