Fat: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Consuming dietary fat does not make you fat. However, being in positive energy balance, meaning your calorie intake is higher than your calorie burn, will. Because 1g of fat contains 9 calories, compared with the 4 calories that 1g of protein and carbohydrate each have, you might think that eliminating fat is the solution for losing weight.

You're not alone. For a long time, the medical community also thought this was true. We now know that the type of fat you eat and what you eat to replace any fat that you omit is one of the most important factors in weight management and chronic disease such as heart disease.

When you significantly cut fat in your diet and replace those calories with carbohydrates, you exclude many of the foods that contain healthy unsaturated fats such as nuts, avocados, and salad dressings made with unsaturated oils that actually are beneficial to your health. These foods contain fiber and vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly.

The best way to include healthy fats in your diet is a “this for that” approach. Instead of loading up your veggies with margarine, grill them with olive oil. Rather than spreading mayo on your sandwich, use avocado.

Tips for Including Fat in Your Diet

  • The majority of your fats should come from mono and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Limit your saturated fat intake by choosing low-fat dairy options and using butter sparingly.
  • Completely eliminate foods containing trans fats. Read the food label; if an item lists partially hydrogenated oils, choose another brand!