Dietary fats play a big role in energy, metabolism, and cardiovascular health while giving us fullness and satisfaction when combined with good carbohydrates and proteins. However, too much consumption of fats can cause imbalance and weight gain, which can negatively affect one’s health.
Misconceptions about the fat that can be read in numerous articles and fad diet books can lead to confusion when it comes to achieving healthy and balanced eating. Here are ways how to choose the right type of fats (by knowing what’s healthy and unhealthy), how much to consume (based on the recommended guidelines), and how to incorporate them into your lifestyle so you can achieve your health, weight, and fitness goals.
Choose “good and healthy” fats
First of all, you need to know the difference between good and bad fats. Good fats contribute to improving one’s health such as effectively absorbing the vitamins from foods while lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing the good cholesterol (HDL). These are unsaturated fats (liquid at room temperature)–polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, and plant-based oils.
Saturated fats (solid at room temperature) and trans fats (natural and artificial) are unhealthy or bad fats, which should be eaten sparingly to avoid heart problems. Foods high in saturated fats are mostly animal products such as butter, cheese, meat, cake, cream, and milk chocolate. If possible, fully avoid artificial trans fats (hydrogen is added to the oil to = partially hydrogenated fats) found in commercial sweet products, crackers, deep-fried foods, fast-food French fries, and frozen foods because they can attack your health by increasing the cholesterol levels (especially the LDL that can lead to stroke and heart attack.
But excessive consumption of good and/or bad fast can still result in weight gain. Fat contains more than twice as many calories as proteins and carbohydrates. It is important to know how to manage servings of foods high in fat.
Be aware of the fat content of food and learn how to manage your portions
The amount of fats recommended for you would depend on your health condition and goals. The World Health Organization recommends a daily fat intake of 20 to 35% of the total calories per day. If you are consuming a total of 2,000 calories a day, your fat intake should be 400 to 700 calories (equivalent to 44 to 77 grams of fat per day). The majority of your fat intake should come from monounsaturated fats (up to 20%) such as avocado, nuts, and olive oil. Aim for up to 10 percent of polyunsaturated fats such as fish and flaxseed. Limit your consumption of saturated fats such as cheese, butter, dark meat, and some plant oils (coconut and palm oil) to less than 7 percent of your daily intake a day.
Learn how to read nutrition facts so you have an idea of your food consumption and make efforts to avoid unhealthy foods especially snacks and packaged foods. You can effectively limit your consumption of fats by understanding the nutrition labels. Check the serving size and how many servings per container. A bag of potato chips may contain 3 to 12 servings per container (one serving = 15 chips), so you need to multiply the calories per serving by the total number of servings to know the total amount of calories in one bag. Be aware that one gram of protein and carbs is equivalent to 4 calories one gram of fat is equivalent to 9 calories. This is why high-fat foods are higher in calories and should be consumed in moderation to avoid weight gain.
You need to limit fat consumption by knowing the amount of fat in your foods
Amount of fat (in grams)
1/2 or 100 grams
1 serving or 22 pieces
1 serving 18 pieces
1 serving or 49 kernels
Chicken thigh with skin
Chicken thigh without skin
85% lean ground beef
Chicken breast without skin
Make fat consumption a part of your healthy eating lifestyle
Learn and discover how to incorporate healthy fats with protein and healthy carbs into your lifestyle
For breakfast, you can sprinkle chia seeds and flaxseeds on your oats, yogurt, and healthy smoothies. Eat your serving of avocado by combining half a slice with an egg on a whole wheat toast.
Nuts and seeds can be part of your snack. Spread a teaspoon of natural peanut or almond butter on a piece of banana or make a nutty snack by combining pumpkin seeds, almonds, and cashew nuts with 1/2 cup of natural yogurt and fruits.
Sprinkle walnuts and a tablespoon of olive-oil based dressing on your salads. Eat fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, or sardines at least twice a week. If you will sauté, pan-fry or marinate your dishes, use the healthiest oils (olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower, and canola oil), but always consume in moderation to less than a tablespoon per meal consumption.
Dietary fats are very important when it comes to adding flavor to our meals, giving us that great feeling of satisfaction. You can’t avoid the bad fats all the time, especially during special occasions and when eating out, so you can so allow yourself to eat foods with saturated fats every once in a while. However, always apply portion control and this can only happen if you fill yourself up with healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and good fat. Here are other strategies that you can do to limit unhealthy fats.
Use an air fryer and non-stick pan and grill, boil, broil, steam or pan-fry (limit oil consumption) your foods. Remove visible fats from pork and beef. Choose 90% lean meat when buying beef from the supermarket.
Remove chicken skin or eat chicken breast instead of chicken thigh.
When ordering a salad, ask to serve the dressing on the side and limit mayo and oil-based dressing to 1 tbsp only because a serving of mayo and oil-based dressings contains 100 to 135 calories per tablespoon. Choose olive oil-based, but still limit the consumption to 1tbsp You can also have vinaigrette or yogurt-based dressings.
Consume coconut products such as coconut oil, coconut cream, and coconut flour in moderation because of the high saturated fat content.
Avoid highly processed foods such as hotdog, sausage, luncheon meat, and bacon. These foods are high in bad fats and sodium. In case you are craving these foods, limit to one small piece, just to taste.
Stay away from high fat, high-calorie packaged snacks such as potato chips, cookies, buttered and caramelized popcorn, and cheesy nacho chips.
Avoid deep-fried foods such as tempura, fried spring rolls, fish and chips, fried chicken, Chinese dishes such as sweet and sour fish or pork, breaded pork chop, Lechon kawali, bagnet, calamari, chicken nuggets, and French fries.
Avoid fatty, creamy, and cheesy dishes such as carbonara and cheese/meat overload pizza.
Limit the number of rich pork soups such as ramen because it’s very high in saturated fat and sodium.
Avoid baked goods containing a huge amount of sugar, butter, and oil such as donuts, cakes, and sweet or savory pastries. Make your healthy desserts at home by combining protein, good fats, and carbs such as dark chocolate, chia seeds, nut butter, and dried foods.
Limit high-fat sauces to less than a tablespoon such as chili garlic oil, satay sauce, and cheese, ranch, or sour cream dip.