I know, it's sounds counterintuitive, right? But I promise it is not. In fact, perhaps the greatest cause of the rampant obesity epidemic in the United States, has been caused by people eating less fats. Nutritional fat CANNOT be changed into body fat. It just can't. And for decades, government scientists have scared us away from eating fats, suggesting that the HUGE base of the food pyramid should be made of bread, cereals, rice and pasta, foods that the body converts to body fat. They vilified the egg, one of the earth's perfect foods. And what has it done to our health? Terrible things. More than 60% of Americans are overweight and 1/3 are obese. This has caused an increase in heart attacks, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and many other health problems, which have added $150 Billion dollars to our annual health costs.
But all fats were not created equal. We want to be eating more HEAlTHY fats and proteins, and much fewer carbohydrates, processed foods and sugars. But make sure you are eating the right fats.
Trans fats (also known hydrogenated fats) should be avoided. These are in just about every packaged food you will find on the shelves of your grocery store. Fats from fried foods tend to also be very unhealthy.
So, what to do, what to eat? There are a lot of foods that contain healthy fats which in addition to providing your body with nutrients it needs, also have the effect of producing a faster metabolism and better fat-burning.
The best fats to eat include the following:
1) Fatty Fish, like salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel. These contain healthy doses of Omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce the chances of heart disease and stroke.
2) Nuts, including pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, macadamias and pistachios. Nuts have a wide variety of protective factors which can do anything from increase weight loss to protect against hardened arteries and cancer.
3) Whole Eggs. Yes, not just the egg white. It is the yolk of the egg that contains all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals. And they are NOT a cause of high cholesterol as has been asserted. The egg is one of the earth's perfect foods, and the yolk is the reason, not the white.
4) Coconut Oil. Unlike most fats which are made up of long chains of fatty acids, coconut oil's fats are medium-chain. They go straight from your digestive track to your liver, providing short-term energy. They have also been shown to protect against brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's Disease and Epilepsy.
5) Avocados. These are loaded with fiber and more potassium than bananas. They can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
6) Olive Oil. Like avocados, the fat contained in olive oil is largely oleic acid. Oleic acid has been linked to reduced inflammation in the body and also to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.
7) Seeds, like pumpkin, hemp, chia, flax, sesame and quinoa (yes, ti's actually a seed, it just cooks like a grain). These are very helpful for fat loss and also contain a huge variety of vitamins and minerals.
Keep in mind that fats, good ones and bad ones, are calorie-dense, containing 9 calories per gram, compared with carbohydrates and proteins which contain 4 calories per gram. So, do be aware of serving size. One cup of almonds, for example, contains about 530 calories. One avocado has about 320 calories. These foods can be great of snack times when you need a few hundred calories but don't have time for a meal.
So to keep some of the holiday weight off, think about replacing some of the fat-storing carbohydrates in your diet with heart-healthy fats which increase your body's fat-burning hormones and can be a major positive step toward better healthy overall.
Greg Rothman, MS PT, is a fitness professional, writer and the owner of Empower Fitness in NYC. He received his Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University and has twenty years of experience in the fitness and rehabilitation fields. He believes that absolutely anyone can have the body of their dreams once they understand how to eat and exercise in a way that supports their goals. It is his mission to Empower as many people as possible to do just that. His “Recession-Proof” Fitness Programs are an affordable way to find dramatic physical change over the course of 10 weeks. Greg is happy to hear from you if you have questions about any topic related to fitness or nutrition, and can be found at www.GetEmpoweredFitness.com.