In preparation for a delicious conversation about fat, let’s talk about my back. After two days of torture, I think that it might look slightly better. It definitely feels less jiggly. As I start to see these very minor results, I have to tell you, I am not sure that I like it. Does that mean that my frightening theory is right? Does Chardonnay indeed pack it on right above the belt? In fairness to my favorite grape, I have made other changes as well. Yesterday I rode the elliptical for twenty minutes. Then, I walked uphill both ways to a not-close deli to get a turkey sandwich on whole wheat (good carb). I had a chicken asian salad for dinner. When I wasn’t feeling the burn, I was in the bathroom because I drank all 8 silly bands of water. Back fat is looking better and better.
Fats — In college, my roommates and I joined the fat-free craze rationalizing that it was o.k. to drink kegs of beer and eat jumbo sized bags of candy corn because they don’t contain fat. At any given time, there were twice as many boxes of SnackWells in our apartment as there were textbooks. If you can find any pictures of us in those days (oddly, almost all were lost in a freak accident), it is proof that fat-free is not the way to go.
1. Fats, along with protein and carbohydrates, are a type of nutrient that provides calories. For each gram of fat, you get about 9 calories which is twice as many as that from protein or carbs. During exercise, after about 20 minutes when your body has used all the energy from carbs, it starts to use the energy in fat … burn baby burn.
2. You need fat and not only to keep you warm — fats are not made in the body and are critical for blood clotting, brain development and managing inflammation. They help the body absorb vitamins and maintain healthy skin and hair. Fat should never be restricted before the age of two as it is crucial for neurodevelopment. After the age of two, fats, especially the bad ones, should be limited.
3. Fats are found in animal products, nuts, oils and high fat fruits like olives and avocados.. Just like carbs and relationships, there are good ones and there are bad ones.
Unsaturated fats = good. They are found in most vegetable oils with the exception of coconut and palm oils. While polyunsaturated fats are healthier than monounsaturated fats (think the more unsaturated the better), they both lower cholesterol. You still want to monitor your unsaturated fat intake because they are high in calories. This kind of fat is found in fish, nuts, seeds, plant oils, avocados, olives and most vegetable oils.
Saturated fats = bad. Remember this by thinking, if you get caught in the rain and get saturated – not good. This is the main dietary cause of high cholesterol. These fats are found mostly in animal products like red meats, lard (love saying that word), egg yolks, poultry fat, butter, milk, cheeses and dairy products made from whole or 2% milk.
Then it gets worse:
Trans-fatty acids which are found in small amounts in some animal products, are formed during the processing of margarine, some cooking oils, shortening and simply, are really bad for you. They raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol and increase risk for heart disease. Oil becomes hardened through hydrogenation and these hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils have lots of trans-fatty acids. There is just one more reason to avoid fried foods, commercially baked goods and processed foods.
4. Fat guidelines by the American Heart Association:
– limit total fat intake to less than 25-35% of your total calories
– limit saturated fat to less than 7% of your total calories
– limit trans fat to less than 1% of your total calories
5. Bottom line to keep your bottom in line — I can’t imagine reading the food label on everything I put in my mouth and everything I serve to my family so I am trying to get and give an overall picture for healthy eating. In general, fats live up to their name and if you are trying to lose weight, you should limit them. Putting calories aside for a moment though, it is better to cook with olive and most vegetable oils than butter or margarine. It is better to eat lean meats and fish. It is better to avoid processed and mass-produced foods. It is better but definitely not easier.
I am going to start planning healthier snacks and meals with good fats and good carbs starting in 2011. Let’s face it, there is no way I am trying to establish change in my house in the midst of holiday madness. I can barely change the sheets in December.