A decade or two ago, low fat diets were popular. If you’re looking to drop body fat, cutting dietary fat would seem logical. But that’s not really how things work. Through science, we’ve come to realize that things are a bit more complex than that – and that we still have a lot to learn.
If you read the nutritional labels (and I hope you do!) of the foods you eat, you’ll notice that there’s total fat, saturated fat and trans fat. Here’s what they all mean.
- Total fat: The cumulative fat content in a serving, displayed in grams and as a percentage of your recommended intake. Keep in mind these percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your actual caloric needs may be different. Total fat doesn’t seem to have an effect on health. Instead, it’s the type of fat consumed that has an impact.
- Saturated fat: Until recently, nutritionists have warned against saturated fats because they raise the type of cholesterol that clogs your arteries. However, researchers have been unable to establish a correlation between saturated fat and the risk of heart attack or stroke. As such, saturated fats may actually be neutral. But that’s not a free pass to eat a pound of bacon.
- Unsaturated fat: These are the heart-healthy fats found in fish, olive oil, etc., that appear to have a protective effect on your health. Of course, unsaturated fats are still calorie-dense – so continue to eat these fats according to recommendations.
- Trans fat: These are the bad guys, and are most often found in processed foods. Trans fats simultaneously raise bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol. As such, the American Heart Association recommends minimizing trans fats in your diet by not exceeding more than 1% of your total caloric intake. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s 2 grams of trans fat per day. You can find trans fats in many cakes, fries, doughnuts and baked goods. Though many manufacturers are moving away from trans fats, it’s important to check nutrition information.
The truth is, all of us need essential fats to survive; cutting all fat out of your diet would be a very bad thing. Instead, be mindful of the type of fat you eat – with an emphasis on heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
P.S. If you want to cut body fat, there’s no better way to do it than by downloading Davey Wavey’s Bootcamp Program. Through a strategy called high intensity interval training, you’ll incinerate excess body fat while preserving muscle.