Fat. Now there’s a word that can have a multitude of meanings. And, I’m probably not being grammatically correct in using it as a one word sentence but since I’m just blogging and not publishing a book I’m going with it okay? Now, the kind of fat I’m talking about today is dietary fat.
In ages past, I imagine the hardest part of anyones diet was knowing that if you wanted to eat you had to go out and actually catch it or grow your own food. And then trying to find a way to preserve what you had so it wouldn't go to waste. These days even though we have food conveniently surrounding us even down at the corner gas station (and I use the term food lightly here) I think the hardest part of eating today is knowing what to eat. It seems like one day something is okay and then the next day it’s not.
I have this picture in my head of a wheel like the one they use on the game show, “Wheel of Fortune.” Instead of money and prizes to be had when they spin the wheel this wheel has various foods, methods, diet plans, latest fads, etc. Every once and awhile the diet and nutrition industry spins it and wherever it lands, that becomes the latest and greatest new product, health advice or method that every magazine, social media, morning talk shows and food manufacturers tout until it has run its course and then the wheel gets another spin to start it all over again.
Over the years dietary fats have been added to that wheel. Those of you who are old enough will remember your grandmothers using lard, saved bacon grease, and butter. It’s what they had and I don’t think they gave it a second thought if it was “healthy” or not to use it. Then the powers that be determined that those products were a no-no and came up with the inventions of products like oleo (margarine), Crisco, Spry and numerous oils through unnatural means.
Well, lo and behold somebody has spun the wheel again and now we are starting to see a swing back to some of the old fats that our ancestors used as being more healthy. Go figure! Honestly, it makes my head hurt! On a side note, I did run across an interesting fact about how Crisco came about. Supposedly, it’s because the Procter's (Procter & Gamble) were looking for an easy way to store soap fat. YUP! And now people cook with it.
One might think that all of our weight problems could be solved if we just eliminated fat from our diet right? Wrong! It’s really not that simple. In all reality, we actually need fats, (to which we all sigh a happy sigh of relief). In fact, we can’t live without them because they are an important part of a heathy diet. Fat is a nutrient that our bodies need in order to function. If you were to restrict fat too much you could encounter serious health consequences and even mental health deficits like depression and vitamin deficiencies could occur. But that doesn’t mean you should make it one of your main food groups either.
You’ve heard it said that all calories are not created equal right? We know that 1500 calories of wholesome food will affect our bodies differently than 1500 calories of processed and junk food. This is true on a large scale. But gram for gram, carbohydrates, fats, and protein all have different caloric values.
Carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram which means that 100 grams of protein, carbohydrates, or a combination of the two will equal 400 calories. But fat has 9 calories per gram which is more than double the carb or protein measurements!
A 1-ounce serving of walnuts which is about 1/4 cup contains 185 calories and 18.5 grams of fat.
A medium avocado has 232 calories and 20.5 grams of fat.
One tablespoon of olive or coconut oil has roughly 120 calories and 14 grams of fat.
One tablespoon of butter has 102 calories and 11.5 grams of fat.
Two tablespoons of almond or peanut butter has 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.
A tablespoon here, a tablespoon there, a handful of nuts (or two), etc., you can see how you might be eating a high fat diet and not even know it. And even if your portions are small, chances are by the end of the day you could be eating more calories than you think.
Finding the balance — Oh, how that little statement applies to so many areas of life. And so it seems we can also apply it to dietary fats too. So, what do we know? We know there are several types of fats — some good (healthy) and some bad (unhealthy). We also know that we should try to eat mostly the good and try to stay away from the bad. One thing they have in common however is that they both contain calories. Just remember that your fat consumption should be proportional to your weight. If you are trying to change your body or become healthier, it should be proportional to your goals. You will want to look at how many calories you need to consume daily to lose weight, maintain, or gain weight (yes, there are those people out there) to reach those goals.
So in wrapping up this blog, I want to say that I can’t tell you which fats to use or not use. You will have to do your own research on that. But the message I really wanted to get across is that no matter what kind of fat you do use, just be conscious of the calories they contain. It’s so easy to think just because something is healthy and good for us that it doesn’t matter how much of it we eat — But it does! Calories matter as far as weight goes. Or should I say as far as weight comes and goes?
EVERYTHING we put in our mouth has a calorie. And sometimes those calories sneak into our diet without us even thinking about them. They say that knowledge is power so knowing where our calories are coming from puts us in the drivers seat of being in control of our diet which is a good thing!
If you struggle with eating a healthy diet and feel like you just don’t know where to start, I would love to help you get on the right track. There is no better time than right now to get started! Please call me at (616) 516-1570 to schedule an appointment or click on the blue “Contact” tab on the upper right portion of the page and “Let’s Talk!”