- The 5 Best Fats to Get Lean
- Make This Your Slim-Down Summer!
- Frozen Yogurt: Your Diet Frenemy
- Test Your Trans Fat IQ!
Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.
The 5 Best Fats to Get LeanBy Whitney Provost
You might think that to lose weight you need to cut the fat out of your meals. After all, fat is higher in calories than protein and carbs, and low-fat diets have been very popular since the Senate Nutrition Committee first recommended them in the late 1970s. But research shows that a moderate-fat diet (with about 35 percent of calories consumed coming from fat) will help you drop pounds permanently, feel full longer, and avoid bingeing. The trick is to eat the right kind of fat to increase satisfaction and boost weight loss. Here's why it's important to eat fat—and we offer five of the best fat sources to add to your diet.
How eating fat will help you lose fat
In 2008, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that people who followed low-fat diets lost less weight than people who followed low-carb or moderate-fat diets. The low-fat group lost an average of 6.5 pounds over 2 years, but the low-carb and moderate-fat groups lost about 10 pounds. Women did especially well on the moderate-fat diet, losing an average of 13 pounds during the study.
For weight loss, fat is important for several reasons:
- Fat helps your body control blood sugar and insulin spikes after eating carbohydrates. Better sugar metabolism means less fat storage.
- Fat slows down digestion and aids nutrient absorption. You'll stay fuller longer and get more health benefits from the food you eat.
- Essential fatty acids (such as omega-3s) may boost your metabolic rate and increase fat burning.
- Fat tastes good. It also provides a "mouthfeel" that is satisfying, which can help you be happy with less food.
Eating more fat may also help you stick to your diet longer. In a study conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, participants got either 20 percent of their calories from fat or 35 percent of their calories from fat. Both groups lost weight after 6 months. But after 18 months, only 20 percent of the people in the low-fat group were still following the diet, compared with 54 percent of the people in the moderate-fat group. Likewise, the subjects in the moderate-fat group maintained their weight loss, while the low-fat group participants gained most of the weight back.
If you reach for a box of low-fat or fat-free crackers or cookies when you want to lose weight, you may actually be sabotaging your diet. Manufacturers frequently replace fat with sugar in packaged food items to make them taste better. You think you're making a good decision by eating fat-free products, but the excess sugar and refined flour can lead to fatigue, cravings, mood swings, and weight gain caused by the overproduction of insulin, the fat-storage hormone. As a snack, an apple and peanut butter or a salad with oil and vinegar dressing would be a better weight loss choice. The complex carbs and healthy fats will maintain your blood sugar levels, boost your energy, and keep you satisfied longer.
What kind of fat should you eat?
To get lean, you need to eat the right kind of fat. Avoid saturated and trans fats (which are found in red meat, full-fat dairy products, and many packaged foods), and instead choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Here are some of the best sources of fat to help you reach your weight goal.
- Fish. Fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, and sardines contain beneficial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Most experts agree that eating two servings of fatty fish per week is safe for people who are worried about mercury or other toxins. (Pregnant women should consult with their doctors about consuming fish.) If you don't like fish, a quality supplement such as Core Omega-3™ will give you the benefits without the taste.
- Olive oil. Heart-healthy oils such as olive, canola, and peanut are excellent sources of fat for dieters. They have also been shown to lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Use them sparingly when sautéing, or drizzle them over your favorite salad vegetables with a little vinegar and herbs to maximize the absorption of nutrients. Moderation is important: You really only need about a teaspoon of oil to get all its benefits. Using more will add significant calories.
- Avocados. Eat a spinach and carrot salad with a little avocado, and you'll not only get a dose of good fat, but you'll also absorb more phytonutrients like lutein and beta-carotene. Scientists at Ohio State University in Columbus found that more antioxidants were absorbed when people ate a salad containing avocados than when they ate a salad without this tasty fruit. One-quarter of an avocado will add flavor with about 75 calories.
- Nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts are powerhouses of good nutrition—full of antioxidants, minerals, and monounsaturated fat. The Nurses Health Study, where more than 86,000 nurses were followed for 14 years, found that those who ate nuts regularly (about an ounce per day) tended to weigh less than those who didn't. The protein, fat, and fiber make nuts more filling, which helps dieters stay on track. There's an added psychological bonus to eating nuts: Because they're rich and satisfying, you probably won't feel like you're on a diet.
- Flaxseeds. Packing a wallop of fat, protein, and fiber, flaxseeds are a delicious and healthful addition to any diet. You can grind them up and add them to oatmeal, yogurt, salads, or vegetables, or pretty much anywhere you want a nutty crunch. They're a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, making them a good choice for vegetarians or people who don't like fish. Ground flaxseeds also have 3 grams of fiber per tablespoon that will help slow digestion and keep your blood sugar stable.
Making room for fat
Fat might be considered a health food, but that's not a cue to overindulge. At 9 calories per gram, fat is a more concentrated energy source than protein and carbohydrates (each has 4 calories per gram). You need to be mindful of your overall caloric intake if you want to eat more fat and lose weight. But you'll probably find it a bit easier to manage your calories when you feel full and satisfied after eating the right kinds of fat.
Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, August 3rd, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!
Frozen Yogurt: Your Diet FrenemyBy Stephanie Saunders
Nothing says summertime like a cool, creamy treat, a refreshing pick-me-up when we feel like cooling ourselves. Frozen yogurt, in particular, has made a huge comeback recently, with stores popping up everywhere from here to Punxsutawney. One major reason for this is that while there's no denying its sugary, tangy goodness, it's also considered healthy, low in carbs and calories, and essentially fat free. Yes, frozen yogurt could be the dream dessert, but be careful. Read on for the facts!
A few sweet slipups and it becomes a sneaky caloric nightmare, with calories far exceeding what most of us eat in an entire meal. Fortunately, there is hope for the creamy dessert junkie. Here are a few easy ways to keep things light and healthy.
When we look at the calorie count in frozen yogurt, it is usually broken down by ounce, and we fail to do the math. The wide assortment of toppings can add a bit of crunch or flavor, but these toppings can also add inches to our waists. And the amount of sugar in frozen yogurt is astounding. It is the second ingredient in all the leading brands—they can have up to 40 grams of sugar per serving!
After the age of 10, most of us stop ordering the child's size of anything. There is something very exciting about being able to order off the adult menu. And this is America, where anything is better supersized! When we look at calorie counts for frozen desserts, they are usually for the 4-ounce servings, which is a child's size. Here is a caloric breakdown of some popular yogurt establishments:
|Pinkberry®||28-34 calories per ounce|
|Menchie's®||20-40 calories per ounce|
|Golden Spoon®||25-30 calories per ounce|
|Penguins®||20-25 calories per ounce|
|Ben & Jerry's®||35-45 calories per ounce|
|TCBY®||28-33 calories per ounce|
So, if we actually ordered the child-size serving, we are looking at 80 calories for the not-so-tasty sugar-free version and up to 180 calories for the low-fat version. Also, consider that most establishments pile on considerably more than the ounces determined by the little cup, hence the cute swirl on top. So, should you order the medium size, we are looking at 160 to 360 calories. And this is before we have even looked at toppings.
To top it off
Since the invention of the self-serve yogurt establishment, astounding things have been piled onto yogurt. Gummy bears, chocolate chips, Fruity Pebbles®, rainbow sprinkles, cookie dough, Oreos, hot fudge, brownie bites, malt balls, and Reese's Pieces—my friend once topped her yogurt with all of these! And, yes, my friend was over the age of 14 and not pregnant. It is amazing what we will consume when given access to an unlimited supply that will only cost us forty cents an ounce. But for those of us who are a bit more reserved, even the fruit toppings, granola, nuts, and low-fat fudge can determine our waistlines. The reason, of course, is sugar. Here is a look at what some basic toppings can add up to calorically—each calorie count is for a 2-tablespoon serving.
|Hot fudge (sugar free)||90 calories|
|Oreo® topping||90 calories|
|Strawberry topping||107 calories|
|Chocolate chips||50 calories|
|Rainbow sprinkles||40 calories|
Again, all of these toppings are 2-tablespoon servings. I have yet to see an establishment use that little of a topping at any point in my yogurt shopping frenzies. One would assume we should double that number in most cases. Even then, these numbers do not look particularly horrible, until you add in the 250-calorie yogurt, and then you are looking at a meal. Although tasty, that "meal" will probably not satisfy much of your hunger and lacks the major nutrients your body needs.
Hope for the hungry
So before you throw your punch card away and go back to fighting off chocolate cravings, let's look at some ways to enjoy your favorite dessert without destroying your P90X®, Slim in 6®, or INSANITY™ physique.
- Get the small. I know it seems like a tease, but most of us are satisfied with only a few bites of most sweet things. You can save yourself hundreds of calories, and hours of working out, by just losing a few ounces.
- Choose a nonfat, sugar-free, or low-carbohydrate flavor. No, they do not taste as good. But again, if it saves you 100 calories, you are that much closer to looking hot for your high school reunion.
- Top with fresh sliced fruit or low-fat granola. Often, the fruit topping is a preserve or covered in sugar, so be sure to ask. Also, make sure it is low-fat granola; otherwise, you are adding sugar and butter to your yogurt experience.
- Get toppings on the side. Think of a topping the way you do salad dressing. You can control how many tablespoons go on your yogurt, and you usually get enough to share with a friend.
- Choose richer flavors. This is simply tricking your taste buds. If you aim for flavorful bases, you will be less apt to need a bunch of flavor on top. Really think about what you are craving and see if there is a yogurt flavor to match it.
- Avoid the pint. For most of us, it's impossible to stick to the serving size on the side of the container. And then it lives, and taunts you, in your freezer. Keep large amounts of creamy sugar out of the house.
- Use the scale. I know this sounds really dorky, but ask them to weigh your cup of joy. I doubt any of us would ask them to remove a few ounces of yogurt, but it might make us stop before we hit the bottom of the cup.
- Make it an occasion. Try to think of any dessert experience as a special event. Save it for a celebration, a special date, or a night out with the girls or guys. We are all too prone to going out for dessert when we are bored or having an evening craving. Try going on a walk instead. Your love handles will thank you.
Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, August 3rd, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!
Test Your Trans Fat IQ!By Valerie Watson
It seems like all anyone's talking about nowadays is trans fats. What are they? What makes them so bad for you? If you ignore them, will they go away? As far as that last question goes, probably not, but here's something you can do—test your trans fat IQ by answering "true" or "false" to the following statements.True or False?
- False: In the name "trans fats," the "trans" is short for "transformational." It's short for "Trans-isomer fatty acids." You might know them better as "partially hydrogenated oils." Or "thick, gicky stuff that can clog your arteries six ways from Sunday."
- True: Trans fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Trans fats' relative ease of use, cheapness to produce, and long shelf life cause many companies to ignore the fact that feeding them to consumers increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, creating a pesky need for replacement consumers.
- False: Trans fats can be saturated fats. Trans fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, but not saturated fats. So if you're trying to reduce the trans fats in your diet, don't worry so much about the ribs, egg yolks, or butter, but make darn sure you say no to french fries, potato chips, and pie crust made with traditionally prepared shortening or other hydrogenated fats.
- True: Twentieth-century developments like hydrogenation and refrigeration contributed to the increased prevalence and popularity of trans fats. Before the 20th century, humans' dietary fats consisted mainly of butterfat, beef tallow, and lard—not a significant source of trans fat in the bunch. Still not the ideal diet if you were angling to be, say, a svelte 1920s flapper, but relatively speaking, not nearly as hazardous to one's health as trans fats, which we learn later in 20th century.
- False: Trans fats are an essential dietary fat. Unlike other fats that are necessary to the human diet, trans fats have no positive nutritional qualities, plus they increase the risk of coronary heart disease and other serious health conditions to boot. So like it or not, you have no medically sanctioned reason to keep eating that donut.
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