Welcome to the second part of my personal Food War blog series. In the last article I discussed sugars and how the food industry likes to fool people who are trying to lose weight into the marketing buzzwords of ‘Fat Free’ but in fact they are actually storing more fat because they are consuming processed food with additional sugar which ends up turning into stored fat.
As a part of our discussion on food we need to discuss one of my favorite things to explain to people. Body fat and dietary fat are two very different things. I don’t want you to get hung up on the idea that fat in the body is fat ON the body. We’re going to discuss how the right fats can help your health, fighting disease, and even in getting to that hard earned – healthy looking physique!
We have to learn that we can use fats to help burn body fat and it will in turn help us keep a healthy looking body. Picking the beneficial fats and consuming them in the right amounts at the right time will make a huge difference. We need fat because it is a necessary nutrient for our health. Our body needs it to function correctly and that is important to remember. So who are the good guys and the bad guys? Lets start breaking them down!
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
You can find Monounsaturated fats in some of my favorite snacks! Avocados, Almonds, and olive oil are the names to remember. Avocadoes are a quick and tasty snack when made into guacamole and when I’m craving food I usually reach for an apple or a handful of almonds/spoonful of almond butter to carry me over until my next scheduled meal. I like to use Olive oil to cook and when you are looking for a healthy salad nothing is better or easier to throw in the bowl than some extra virgin olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to give you a healthy dressing. Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oil, cottonseed oil, and sunflower oil.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Technically this is a polyunsaturated fat but most people that I’ve talked to about nutrition discuss them in a different category. They are mostly found in fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon. Omega 3’s have been shown scientifically to aid in reducing inflammation, be a preventative step against cancer growths, and can even improve brain function. While most of the O3’s that I consume come from fish you can also find them in walnuts, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil. There is a ton of research on these fatty acids and maybe sometime I’ll do some more research on them so I have a better idea on WHY they do what they do on that scientific level but right now what you need to know is that they are great for you.
The Bad and Ugly
This bad boy is everywhere. You will mostly find it in animal products that you consume on a daily basis. Egg yolks, meat, seafood, whole milk products (milk/cheese/ice cream). Saturated fats are the ones that LOVE to be stored as body fat. Unlike the good fats that like to go to work and get out this mamma jamma wants to stay!
Have you seen those blogs where people have tried to melt that processed cheese with a lighter and it won’t even melt? Or the food that stays out of refrigeration for months and still looks like it did when it was purchased? Trans fat comes from the hydrogenation process which is when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. Fried food is one of the biggest trans fat guys on the block and you should be running the other way when you see him. French fries, fried chicken, anything fried. Instead of deep frying I’m always trying to get people to pan fry that food if you REALLY must have it. Fast food is another huge contributor of trans fats. Don’t do it. Non-dairy creamer might cost your wallet less but your body a bit more. Those deserts on the shelf might be super easy to make but they are also hiding a huge trans fat budget you can’t afford. Try making a cake from scratch and toss some powdered sugar on top. Donuts? How about DO NOTS. Let me make this a simple wrap up. If it is easy to make or super convenient it usually has a hidden cost which is your health.
So in the end what are we to do to with these fats? I hope that by now you understand that not all fats are the same. Body fat and nutritional, consumed fats are very different. Some fats can be beneficial to our health, but fat will contribute to unwanted weight gain and health problems if not consumed in moderation for your health goals. Here are a few of my suggestions on how to get the right fats at the right times.
- Throw out that ‘Fat Free’ salad dressing and start using olive oil in your own salad dressings.
- Try to remove those high calorie saturated fats like cheese and meats and replace them with a better choice. Salmon cooked in olive oil for example with a half a slice of avocado. What you are doing is trading bad fats for those good fats!
- Change your snacking foods. Peanuts, almonds, almond butter, an apple, or even celery WITH almond butter is a fan favorite around here. If you don’t have bags of terrible snacks sitting around you’ll be forced to consume a healthier option by default. Don’t forget that you still don’t want to go crazy and eat 10 cups of nuts. Try to keep it to like a few handfuls/half a cup of loose nuts or a tablespoon or almond butter.
- Switch out some of those red meats and chicken for some fish. I used to hate cooking salmon but I eventually got good at both barbecuing and the even easier pan frying with EVOO, lemon, flour, and salt/pepper.
- No more fast foods. I don’t give a flying badword how hungry you are, how far away the store is, I don’t care the excuse. If you are going to eat cookies and cakes you better be making them from scratch.