Healthy Fats and Weight Loss
Once upon a time, if you wanted to lose weight, you would cut out fatty foods. For decades, we indulged in low-fat yogurt, low-fat cookies, low-fat everything, thinking we’d solved our weight problems. The only trouble? We didn’t lose weight.
The Skinny on Healthy Fats
On the surface, avoiding fat makes sense – what else would make you fat, besides fat? But now that we’ve dug a little deeper into nutrition science, we see the error of our ways. It’s not fat itself that causes us to gain weight; it’s an excess of the wrong kinds of fat (and sugar – but that’s another article). Healthy fats, including monounsaturated fats (or MUFAs), and omega fatty acids, are a vital part of maintaining optimal health and weight. You should aim to get 25-30% of your daily calories from fats – but be sure to opt for the good-for-you fats as much as possible!
6 Healthy Fat-Filled Foods to Support Weight Loss
The following 6 foods contain wholesome fats that can promote a healthy metabolism and, as part of a weight loss program, help you reach your desired weight:
Ladies who lunch once avoided this rich, creamy fruit in salads, thinking the extra calories would mean extra pounds on the scale. However, the MUFAs found in avocado are a key component in the Mediterranean diet, known for its positive impact on cardiovascular health. Plus, avocados are full of protein, fiber, and an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants! Also, they go great with pretty much any meal!
2. Olive Oil
Another source of MUFAs, olive oil is heart healthy and delicious. Most of the fats you eat should be unsaturated, and MUFAs are widely available. Research suggests that MUFAs can even help fight belly fat.
Rather than buying packaged salad dressings, create your own creamy dressings with olive oil, avocado, lemon juice, and a touch of salt.
This cold water fish is widely cited as the best dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, likely because it’s more appetizing to the average eater than herring, mackerel, and sardines, also sources of omega-3s. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that promote cardiovascular health and cognitive function. They’re vital to optimal health, and unfortunately, the typical western diet is sadly lacking in them – so make salmon a main course a few times a week!
Another group of foods vilified by the fat-free movement, nuts are nutritional powerhouses that yes, contain fat, but healthy fat – MUFAs and PUFAs alike. Try walnuts for your fix of omega-6 fatty acids, another type of PUFA that helps promote the body’s natural healthy inflammatory processes. If you’re worried about consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids, make sure you’re complementing with omega-3s from salmon or a supplement. Omega-6s are indeed healthy – when they come from whole food rather than processed sources.
Surprised to see a saturated fat on this list? Saturated fat isn’t all bad – the key is moderation. You’ll be much better off with grass-fed organic butter than hydrogenated margarine, which offers plenty of trans fats, the worst fats out there when it comes to your health. As well, butter is much more stable than vegetable oils when heated, so it’s ideal for anything sautéed or roasted.
Flax, chia, and hemp seeds provide Vegetarians with a source of omega-3s, which is rare. Just be sure to prep them properly – flaxseeds need to be ground to access the omegas, and chia seeds need to be soaked for a few minutes.
Now that you’ve got the skinny on fat, how will you be switching up your diet to make sure you get more of the fats you need – MUFAs and PUFAs – and less of the ones you don’t?