Fat in the diet can be just as important to our health as protein and vitamins, although the amount we require is usually lower in comparison. Plus, we only require certain types of fat to stay healthy. The problem for many adults in the western world is that we tend to consume too much total fat from our daily diet. This means we often take in more calories than we need and weight gain becomes inevitable.
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Saturated Versus Unsaturated Fat
Many foods that are considered fattening contain too much of the saturated fats, and these are not required by the body at all. It’s the unsaturated fats, or polyunsaturated fat that we need in the diet, and there are less foods that contain this type of fat than there are foods that contain the unhealthy stuff. As a result, most foods high in fat tend to just add extra calories with little nutritional benefit.
The good news is that fat can be burned for energy needs. The bad news is that fat is harder to utilize than sugar. Fat takes longer to digest and has a complex process for fat cells to burn completely, therefore the body prefers to use sugar. This means if you have a high carbohydrate diet, then it’ll be difficult to burn off the fat when you exercise because your glycogen stores will be relatively full, and the cells will use this over fat most of the time.
Fat in Fish
There are some forms of fish that may be considered as a fattening food when looking at their food label. However, fatty fish should be included regularly in the diet as it provides the essential omega-3 fatty acids. If the total calories seem too much, then simply lower the portion size. I believe it’s much better to have one mouthful of fatty fish than not to eat any at all! You could also take a fish oil supplement if calories need to be limited further.
However, in any of these cases you should first consult a dietician before including new foods in your diet.
As with all foods, too much of anything can cause weight gain. Even though the foods listed above are considered by us to be fattening, some of them can still be included in the diet providing the portions are much smaller, and they’re eaten less often. This helps control the amount of calories they provide. Some of them are nutritious foods that should, to some degree, be included in a healthy diet.
The sugary foods like cakes, biscuits, chocolate and candy are often referred to as “empty calorie foods” as they generally provide no nutrition, just energy. Eating too many empty calorie food items may mean missing out on valuable nutrients like vitamins and minerals. It is always best to eat a balanced diet that contains a large range of different, but mainly natural foods.