Here Are The Best And Worst Fats For Health And Weight Loss
Fat is the highest calorie macronutrient. Most diets are successful through restriction, either with fats or carbohydrates, but they're not sustainable. Instead, what about choosing the best types of each, and eating them in more balanced ways.
Diets that greatly limit fats, often feel miserable. Fats make you feel fuller longer (because they take the longest to digest), while also helping you feel satisfied, which prevents cravings and satisfies your appetite. Fats are like an investment, they may be a lot of calories up front, but hold you over for hours, reducing extra snacking or needing another meal after a short time.
Fat has health benefits throughout your entire body, like:
- Boost the nutrition of your meals by allowing absorption of fat soluble nutrients
- Moisturized, softer skin and hair
- Nervous system health (brain and nerves: clearer thinking, mood/attitude, etc.)
- Anti inflammatory effects (more energy!)
- Structure and support of every single cell in your body (remember that phospholipid bi-layer from HS biology class?)
- Hormone balance (helps you feel healthy and well & has role in metabolism/muscle mass)
How Much Fat Should You Eat
Too much fat in your diet can make you feel overly ‘stuffed’ and sluggish, since all your energy goes into digesting your heavy meal; in addition to easily adding hundreds of calories to your day. Too little fat leaves you feeling hungrier and less satisfied. So how much is just right?
It depends on your caloric needs, but a good place to start is 1-2 portions per meal. See how you feel and learn which fats are the most filling and satisfying along with just how much you need. There's no one-size-fits-all recommendation that will work for everyone. It might vary week to week, where some weeks it's easier to eat lighter and other weeks you need more satisfying meals. That's where intuitive eating becomes so important! Here are approximate portions:
- Oil (olive oil, canola oil, butter/ghee, coconut) is ~1 tsp
- 1/4 avocado
- 1/4 -1/3 cup of nuts
- 2 tbsp of nut butter
- ~1-2 oz of cheese
- 1-2 whole eggs
- 2-4oz of grass fed/pastured meat or wild caught seafood
The Healthiest Sources Of Fat
Variety is truly key. It's healthiest to include mostly plant based sources of fat in your diet, with some animal/seafood based sources too (they're best for omega 3s and cholesterol).
Many people think animal fats are ‘bad,’ but the truth is that in the recommended portions a couple times per day or week (depending on what's best for you) can be nourishing. It's really important to choose grass fed and pasture raised meats and dairy as this fat is less inflammatory.
Healthy Plant Based:
- Olive oil
- Coconut milk and oil
- Nuts & Nut butter
- Olive oil
- Canola oil (only if needed for higher temp cooking/roasting)
Animal Based: 1-3 portions/day (they contain higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids!)
- Grass fed and pasture raised animal products (butter, milk/cream, meats, cheeses, whole eggs)
- For seafood: wild caught (from non toxic/ unpolluted areas)
Best Types Of Fat For Weight Loss
The best types of fat when you’re trying to lose weight are those that are more filling. I call these combo fats, because they also contain protein and/or fiber; they add more volume to your meals and snacks for the calories. Olive oil is definitely a healthy fat and can still be part your diet, but it's not filling and can easily add hundreds of calories to your meals without adding volume.
Fats For Weight Loss:
- Nuts & Nut butter
- Whole Eggs
The Least Healthy Sources Of Fat:
The worst sources of fat for your health as well as weight loss are those that are processed (typically heated to high temperatures which makes them more inflammatory), are from animals raised in factory farm conditions (not labeled grass fed or pastured) or are combined with refined carbohydrates (sugar and/or flour).
Least Healthy Fat Sources:
- Trans Fats
- Hydrogenated & processed fats (found on their own or in most processed/packaged foods - even organic!)
- Vegetable oils
- Palm oil (found in many processed/packaged foods - even organic!)
- Fried foods
- Fats from conventionally raised animals
- Fats in farmed seafood
- Those found in candy and baked goods
If unhealthy fats are a big part of your diet, work to reduce them by replacing them with better options. You don't have to ban them from your diet, but as little as possible will give you the best results with improving your health and losing weight.
Fats are such an important, nourishing part of the diet for overall health and wellness, as well as weight loss. To include them in your diet and still achieve your goals, it's important to choose wisely and to use portions. They are a source of extra calories in the diet, but it's crucial to include all 3 macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein) for your body to function optimally.