How to Eat More Healthy Fats
Thursday, December 18, 2014
LifeTime WeightLoss in Anika Christ, Fat, Healthy Cooking, Nutrition, healthy fats

How’s your fat intake these days? 

Are you getting enough? (Probably not a question you hear very often…)

Fat might be the most misunderstood and misrepresented nutrients of all time, often reduced or even cut out completely when people are trying to “shed” body fat or eat “more healthily,” according to that old and erroneous low-fat paradigm.

Given this misdirected fat phobia, healthy fat is one of my favorite topics for discussion with clients. It’s not only essential for our overall health and mood, but it’s downright critical for our metabolism.

Fat matters when you’re trying to lose fat! Let’s talk how-to tips for boosting this essential nutrient and giving your body the healthy fat it needs!

How Much and Why?

Why do we need fat in our diet? Its many functions include: maintaining our hair, skin and nails; nourishing our brain health (our brain is 60% fat!); producing sex and stress hormones; and supporting satiety, energy and overall mood. Fat also comprises our cellular membranes, which transport nutrients into the cells while removing toxins out of them – crucial for our overall gut health and immune system as well as our metabolic efficiency. When we starve our body of essential fat, intentionally or unintentionally, we lose out on all of its benefits and functions for our metabolism.

So, how much fat is enough? I recommend consuming at least 30% of your total calories or food intake for the day from healthy fats to support optimal health. I have many clients who do well with an even higher intake, especially if they have a history of low mood or depression and/or follow a vegetarian diet. Because fat is one of the two energy tanks for our bodies (along with carbohydrates) and a more stable, slower-burning energy, I suggest including a source at each of your meals. That way, not only will your energy be supported throughout the entire day, but good fats will also keep your hunger at bay.

How-To Tips    

Healthy sources of dietary fat can include nuts, seeds and certain oils, as well as the naturally occurring fats in meats and some vegetables. When trying to boost intake of healthy fats, I generally coach with guidelines covering animal fats, nuts and seeds, and oils.

Don’t Skim the Animal Fat

Oftentimes, we try to avoid the naturally occurring fats in animal products by purchasing, for example, only lean cuts of meat or more processed products that have had the natural fats extracted from them. When coaching my clients, I suggest replacing their low fat foods with natural, full fat versions. Below are some tips on how to get those natural fats back in.

Non-Animal Sources

In general, these foods nourish our bodies with essential fats and include nuts, seeds and avocados. They serve as great sources to eat alone but also to complement and flavor our other foods. For a complete list, visit chapter 8 in our Eat well. Live well manual.

Oils for Flavor and Cooking

Cooking and preparing with oils or butter might be one of the easiest ways to add healthy fats to your diet. Avoid the overly processed vegetable oils (e.g. canola, corn, cottonseed, etc.) and trans fats (hydrogenated oils, margarine) when preparing your meals.

What other barriers do you come across when trying to maintain a good fat intake? Are you interested in ideas for fitting in more healthy fats? See one of our dietitians today.

In health, Anika Christ – Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

 

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