The Benefits of Healthy Fat Foods
Most people think they need to avoid all fatty foods, because fat makes us fat, right? Wrong! There are actually HEALTHY fat foods that our body needs and they do NOT undermine our efforts to be healthy and/or lose weight IF we eat them in moderation. Welcome back eggs and dark chocolate!
The food industry is expert at making us believe that processed is better than natural. They would have us believe that margarine is healthier than grass fed butter. Yes, the butter has more fat, BUT it is definitely better for our healthy than the altered fats in margarine.
Research in recent years clearly indicates that the whole low-fat craze was a disaster. We all stopped eating some of our favorite foods and ended up gaining weight (and diseases) as a result of a diet full of refined carbs.
In 2015, even the FDA stated that evidence was now showing that eating healthy fat foods, like nuts, vegetable oils, and fish, not only positively impact our weight loss journey, but protect us from cardiovascular disease. This is GREAT news!
Good Fat and Bad Fat
Nutrition is key to our weight loss journey, so it’s important to be educated. Here’s a little Fat 101.
Fat comes in many forms:
- Unsaturated: Naturally contained in plants like nuts, seeds, veggie oils and seafood.
- Saturated: Found in animal foods, such as meat and butter, as well as coconut and palm oil. Usually considered bad, but recent evidence proves that we must distinguish based on the source of fat. Some sources are actually good for us!
- Trans: Found in processed and fried foods and the true fats that mess with our health.
Polysaturated Omega-3 fats (found in fish, nuts, flax seeds) are healthy and improve our immune system. On the other hand, Omega-6 fats (found in canola or sunflower oil) should not be consumed much.
So, now you know that fat does not mean FAT. The fats in processed junk foods are NOT good for you and WILL cause weight gain, but fats from natural foods like avocados, olives, coconuts, and grass-fed beef can be highly beneficial. If we want to bust through our weight loss plateau, we must stop depriving ourselves of healthy fats.
Check out our previous post on Understanding Fats to learn more about good fat and bad fat.
What Does Healthy Fat Do For Us?
There are three primary benefits of eating healthy fat foods:
- Keep us feeling fuller longer allowing us to reduce our daily calorie intake without feeling deprived.
- Boost our fat metabolism and burn body fat.
- Increase our HDL (good) cholesterol and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Healthy High Fat Foods
Here are my favorite healthy high fat foods:
- Avocado. Did you know avocado is actually a fruit? It is also one of my favorite healthy high fat foods. Avocados are low in saturated fat, lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, high in fiber so you feel fuller and more satisfied, and are a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Folate.Spread a layer of avocado on your breakfast toast (try sourdough and sea salt!) or add a small amount of HOMEMADE guacamole to your meal. (Most pre-packed guacamoles have added sugars and other non-natural ingredients, like preservatives.) You can also use it instead of other spreads and toppings that contain trans fat, like margarine, or add some to your smoothie (or Shakeology!) to make it creamier and make you feel fuller longer.
- Coconut oil. Have you ever had coconut oil in your coffee? It’s DELICIOUS. It’s also used in the fight against heart disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, thyroid conditions, low energy, Alzheimer’s, and for an overall boost to the immune system. Dave is a HUGE fan of Shakeology Fat Bombs.
- Extra virgin olive oil. The benefits of EVOO are so huge that every diet should include it. Besides having all kinds of anti-inflammatory properties, it also contains antioxidants that protect your body from skin aging and heart disease. Stick with extra virgin and beware of any brand that costs less than $10 a liter as it’s very likely to be counterfeit and/or to contain fatty acids.
- Nuts and seeds. In addition to containing healthy fats, most nuts are packed with fiber and minerals (like magnesium and calcium) that further support your health. Nuts are the perfect snack for your brain (in moderation)! I buy them in bulk at Trader Joes or Costco and store them in the fridge or freezer to prevent them from going rancid.
- Eggs. These little nutritional powerhouses got an unnecessary bad rap. Eggs are NOT bad for us! New studies have found that the cholesterol in eggs does NOT affect the cholesterol in our blood (for most of us). They are actually one of the most nutrient dense foods there is, because they have a little bit of almost everything our bodies need AND they do not undermine our weight loss efforts. Despite what “they” wanted us to believe, we DO want to eat the yolk, because that’s where the nutrients are!
- Butter and ghee. Real (and grass fed) butter has both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that support our brain function and improve our skin health. Ghee will remain fresh for several weeks at room temperature and is ideal for cooking.
And, yes, even the fat in dark chocolate (at least 70%) is on the good list!
How Much Healthy Fat Foods Should We Eat?
This is NOT an easy question to answer since it depends on so many factors, including your fitness and weight loss goals and personal metabolism. Eating too much of ANY one kind of food, or consuming too many calories, is never a good idea. So, as with most everything in life, when it comes to healthy fat foods, we need to make sure to get the right balance.
Rather than try to guesstimate how much fat I (and my customers) should eat every day, I use Autumn Calabrese’s 21 Day Fix portion control eating system. The eating plan allows us to have one (sexy) blue container every day. It’s as simple as that!
The goal is to convert some of your body’s primary fuel from refined carbs to healthy fat foods. Just be aware that, at first, some of the high-fat foods might taste too rich and it might take awhile for your body to fully adjust to the new form of energy. Just make sure to eat enough fat to avoid hunger and let your body find the balance of burning fat instead of carbs and unlocking you hidden fat stores.
I’m Here to Help!
The bottom line is that healthy fat foods actually help with a variety of body processes and support weight loss when consumed in considerate portions. And, they are MUCH better for you than refined carbs.
One of the aspects of the 21 Day Fix that I appreciate most is that the food containers are ideally proportioned for both calorie intake AND nutritional benefit to your body. If you’re interested in learning more about this awesome and simple meal plan AND combining fitness with healthy nutrition to GET RESULTS, click below and I’ll get you started: