If you want to lose fat, you shouldn’t eat fat, right? Actually, wrong. While it feels like a contradiction, you do need to eat fat to lose fat. For decades, we were sold a low-fat diet by the food industry, which marketed low-fat/no-fat everything. We thought eating anything would help us lose weight as long as it was labeled low-fat. We even believed drinking diet soda would help us cut calories and lead to a trimmer tummy. The truth is, this thinking was all wrong.
Thank goodness we have the real facts today. We no longer need be afraid of healthy fat. Our bodies and minds need healthy fat to thrive. Ever heard of omega-3 fatty acids? These are an example of the kinds of fats we all need to be eating more of to protect our brains and our waistlines.
Today, we’re going to delve deep into the world of weight loss and healthy fats — because you need to know the truth behind what truly supports healthy weight loss, versus what’s been sold to us by the food industry.
What are healthy fats?
Did you know that healthy fat can actually lower your cholesterol levels? Healthy fats do this, and much more. But, how do you know which ones are good and which aren’t? You can start out by applying a rule that applies to all foods—the less processed and the less refined, the better. Foods that are naturally high in fat are naturally good for you.
Avocados are an example of a food that’s naturally high in fat. Fish that swim in rivers and oceans naturally contain fat. So do eggs, nuts, seeds, olives, and dark chocolate. Beef that comes from cows eating grass and roaming freely is a healthy fat, as opposed to cows that have been pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. Full-fat dairy that hasn’t been tinkered with by humans to cut the fat from it—this is yet another example of a healthy fat. And yet, most of us will opt for low-fat yogurt loaded with sugar before we buy full-fat Greek yogurt. This is a mistake.
Certain oils are naturally fatty and unprocessed, and they’re really good for weight loss. Extra-virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, avocado oil — these are the ones you should be cooking with, rather than highly refined vegetable oil. Nut and seed butters whipped up from almonds, macadamia nuts, and sunflower seeds should also be consumed with regularity.
What are bad fats?
Again, the bad fats are those that are highly processed and refined. They often contain dangerous additives and artificial ingredients. They do bad things to your body and mind. For better or worse, the fats we eat impact our health in various ways. Some have a highly positive effect, while others are detrimental.
As a general rule, you need to shun trans fats. These are the fats that negatively impact your waistline. They also lead to heart disease by raising bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowering good (HDL) cholesterol. If you see the words partially hydrogenated oils within a list of ingredients on a food label, don’t eat that food.
In addition, partially hydrogenated oils are really high in omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-6 fatty acids are needed by the body, they’re only necessary in small quantities. Most of us consume far more omega-6 fatty acids than we need. Our levels of omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids should be about even, but most of us consume far more omega-6s than omega-3s. This particular imbalance has been scientifically proven to cause chronic inflammation, which has been linked to nearly every disease process that exists.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows how this fatty acid imbalance leads to inflammatory diseases like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. This means you’ll want to avoid, or at the very least, limit the processed vegetable oils high in omega-6s. These include:
- Canola oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Soybean oil
- Sesame oil
- Peanut oil
- Sunflower oil
- Rice bran oil
More unhealthy fats
Refined vegetable oils aren’t the only fats to steer clear of. Do you or your kids eat lunch meat? How about potato chips, tortilla chips, ready-made baked goods, or crackers? If you look at the labels of these snacks, you’ll find the vegetable oils listed above lurking in them. You may also see those words partially hydrogenated oils. These are all huge weight-loss saboteurs. Not only do they contribute to weight gain, they also clog your arteries, leading to the number #1 fatal disease today — heart disease. But, if you transform your diet, and swap out the bad fats for the good ones, you can prevent this modern day plague!
Even ready-made salad dressings from the grocery store contain canola oil as their primary ingredient. And the ones you buy at your local health food store often do, too. Always check the labels on salad dressings. Better yet, make your own salad dressings from olive oil and balsamic vinegar, so you know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
The connection between omega-3 healthy fats and weight loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s essential that you eat more omega-3s. They’re so beneficial for your health, and yet, most Americans are deficient in these essential fatty acids. We all need to eat more of them, not only to lose belly fat, but also to ward off degenerative diseases.
Omega-3s are also essential for brain health and development at all stages of life. According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Archives of Disease in Childhood, there’s a strong link between omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and learning disabilities like ADHD. Cognitive health and eating these healthy fats go hand-in-hand. They may also help ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive issues later in life. If you aren’t getting fatty fish in your diet, you may want to take a high-quality fish oil supplement.
These healthy fats fall into the category of polyunsaturated fats. Four types of these polyunsaturated fats exist — DHA, ETA, EPA, and ALA. To get the right balance of omega-3s, you need to make sure you’re eating each variety.
Foods rich in DHA
- Fish eggs
- Snow crab
- Seaweeds and algae
Foods rich in ETA
- Fish roe oil
- Green-lipped mussels
Foods rich in EPA
- Seaweeds and algae
Foods rich in ALA
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Kidney beans
- Collard greens
Which foods should I eat to lose weight?
The following are the overall best healthy sources of fat to eat for weight loss:
Eggs were once thought to raise cholesterol. But an article published in Harvard’s School of Public Health’s The Nutrition Source shows otherwise. Eggs are actually a potent source of healthy fat, protein, and many other nutrients that support a healthy heart and healthy weight loss. Where people tend to go wrong is how they cook their eggs and what they eat them with.
Avoid frying them in one of the bad oils listed above. Should you want to scramble your eggs or make a veggie omelet, use coconut oil. Otherwise, poach them or hard boil them. And don’t eat them with bacon and toast or biscuits. Enjoy them on their own, with a dash of sea salt and pepper.
Do you eat nut butters? If not, it’s time to begin! They’re so tasty and so good for you. Almond butter and cashew butter are the most common. They’re delicious on an apple, in a smoothie, or as a treat by themselves. Once you stop eating loads of sugar, a spoonful of these nut butters tastes like dessert. And, they’re the perfect bedtime snack if you find yourself hungry at night. In fact, they’re said to boost metabolism and even burn that belly fat you’re trying to lose. And they do this while you’re sleeping!
Avocados are the best fruits to eat to lose weight. They boost your metabolism with their vitamin B content and healthy fat. They’re also super versatile. You can eat avocados with any and every meal. And if you do, you’re going to support your weight loss goals!
For breakfast, add them to eggs or a smoothie. Add them to your salads at lunch and dinner. You can add them to so many foods! Like eggs, it’s how most people eat avocados that sabotages their weight loss efforts. Most people eat them in guacamole, with lots and lots of tortilla chips. It’s the tortilla chips you need to stay away from. Eating these in excess will cancel out the weight-loss benefits of the avocados. Add guacamole to quinoa or eggs instead.
In addition to being a healthy fat, chia also helps prevent cancer. What’s not to love about these little, gooey seeds? Add them to your smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and even soups! You might want to experiment with chia seed fruit desserts. Loads of recipes online will show you how!
Salmon and other fatty fish
All those oily fish on the omega-3 list above should be incorporated into your weight-loss diet. They’re so good for you, and their health benefits run the gamut. Not only will they help you lose weight, they’ll also help ward off heart disease and cognitive decline. A 2012 meta-analysis published in Clinical Nutrition explains how people eating a diet rich in omega-3s have a lower risk of heart failure than their non omega-3 eating counterparts.
One caveat here is mercury content. Some of these fish contain more mercury than others. The ones that do are tuna, mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tilefish. Don’t eat these fish more than two or three times a week. It’s also important to eat wild-caught fish, rather than farm-raised fish. Farm-raised fish can be detrimental to your health due to the possibility of pesticides, antibiotics, and other additives lurking within them. So, spend the extra few dollars for wild-caught seafood. Your health is beyond worth it.
fat that contains antioxidants with heart disease preventative properties, as a study published in Science Direct shows. Again, it’s how you eat your beef that makes all the difference. Rather than eating it in the form of a burger in between two processed buns, enjoy it in stir-fries with veggies. Or enjoy a burger without the bun and have a salad and sweet potato fries on the side. Get creative with your grass-fed beef to reap its most beneficial weight-loss properties.
Cook with coconut oil and avocado oil
Throw out all the hydrogenated vegetable oils in your pantry, and start cooking with coconut oil and avocado oil. They’ll not only help you lose weight, but also promote heart health and fight inflammation. These should be your two primary cooking oils if you’re serious about burning fat.
You don’t have to give up all desserts to lose weight! A high-quality serving of dark chocolate each day won’t sabotage weight loss. On the contrary, eating dark chocolate (in moderation) may help you lose fat. Dark chocolate — with at least 75% cocoa content — is full of vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy fat essential for weight loss and overall health. Cacao seeds are a superfood! Just stay away from milk chocolate products — not only are they full of sugar, the milk content counteracts the beneficial properties of the chocolate.
We hope this foray into the world of healthy fats inspires you to swap the bad fats for the good ones, in your efforts to become healthier and trimmer.
At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss programs are custom-tailored to help you meet your goals and to address the underlying factors that can make weight-loss difficult. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!