So much information on diets likes to make villains out of one type of food, whether it is carbohydrate, protein or fat. Fat has got the worst rap of the bunch because it is such a part of the foods that are the worst for our health. We even use the word to describe the kind of physique we are trying to get away from by dieting. However, fat is essential to our health and is a necessary element in any weight loss diet.
Calories and weight loss
Losing weight is straightforward--burn more calories than you take in. Your body does not discriminate about what kind of calories you consume. Eat only 1000 calories per day of pure lard for a week and you will lose weight. Eat 3000 calories of only vegetables and fruit for a week and you will gain weight. It's that simple. Consume 500 fewer calories per day than your body burns and you will lose 454 g (one pound) per week.
Using calories wisely
Where the amount of fat matters is when figuring out how to get the most out of the calories you are eating to lose weight. One gram (0.035 oz) of fat contains nine calories, while protein and carbohydrates only contain four. You can eat a lot more protein and carbohydrates than you can fat for the same amount of calories, which helps when you're dieting and don't want to feel hungry or deprived. It's eating more to weigh less and it's why watching how much fat you eat while on a diet is important.
Recommended daily fat intake
Even on a diet, your body still needs fat. Many necessary vitamins and nutrients are fat soluble, which means that the only way they can enter and be properly absorbed by the body is through fat. In fact, its recommended that a healthy diet be composed of 20 to 35 per cent fat. If you are a typical woman on a reasonable 1300 calorie diet, that's 28 to 50g (1 to 2.1 oz) of fat per day, if you want to count fat in grams.
Making it work
Another easy way to be sure you are staying in the recommended range is to look at the nutritional information for the food you are about to eat. If the fat calories per serving are ¼ to 1/3 the total calorie count, you're good to go. Remember that this is total fat for the whole day, so if you splurge a little on one food, you can make it up in another. Say you have a couple of bites of cake because it's your birthday; make sure you have a salad with fat free dressing and no butter on your roll for dinner.
Types of fat
With that said, not all fats are created equal. Try replacing saturated fats from butter and cheese, which should be no more than 10 percent of your daily calories, with heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and peanut butter. Trans-fats, which are found in processed foods, should be avoided altogether.
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