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Have you ever questioned the role of fat in your weight loss journey? Is it good? Is it bad? Where do we get fats from?

For the longest time, fats have had a bad reputation in mainstream media. However, they are incredibly important for a number of reasons. Fat is a crucial energy source for our bodies, protects vital organs, forms the building blocks of hormones, and aids in the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.

However, not all fats are the same. There are four different types of dietary fats, each with different properties and thus differing bodily impact. These include:

Each of these fats are categorised as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ fat due to its effect on our bodies, more specifically our cholesterol levels. Saturated and trans fats are said to be ‘bad fat’, as they tend to raise the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.

These fats are typically solid at room temperature, like butter and coconut oil. Over consumption of these fats increases the risk of heart disease and should therefore be limited in the diet.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are referred to as ‘good fat’, as these raise the levels of good cholesterol in the blood. These fats are liquid at room temperature, like olive oil and canola oil, and should be incorporated in the diet every day.

The role of fat in weight loss?

Healthy fats can be beneficial for weight loss, for numerous reasons:

  1. Satiety: Healthy fats help you feel fuller for longer, which can reduce overall calorie intake. When you include fats in your meals, they slow down digestion and help control your appetite, preventing overeating.
  2. Steady Energy: Fats provide a stable source of energy throughout the day.
  3. Nutrient Absorption: Certain vitamins and nutrients, like vitamins A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble, meaning they are better absorbed when consumed with fats. Including healthy fats in your diet can improve the absorption of these essential nutrients.
  4. Hormone Regulation: Fats are crucial for the production of hormones in your body. Hormones like leptin, which regulates appetite, and insulin, which controls blood sugar levels, can benefit from a balanced intake of healthy fats.
  5. Reduced Cravings: Including healthy fats in your diet can help reduce cravings for unhealthy, sugary snacks. When your meals are satisfying and balanced, you’re less likely to reach for calorie-dense, low-nutrient foods.
  6. Metabolism: Some research suggests that healthy fats may support a healthy metabolism. This means your body may burn calories more efficiently when you consume an appropriate amount of dietary fat.

It’s important to note that while healthy fats can be beneficial for weight loss, they are calorie-dense. Therefore, portion control is essential. Choosing sources of healthy fats in moderation, as part of a balanced diet, can help you harness these benefits without exceeding your recommended calorie intake.

What are good sources of fats?

Polyunsaturated fats:

  • Salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil and pine nuts
  • Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Monounsaturated fats:

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Almonds and pecan nuts
  • Avocados

How much fat should I eat to experience weight loss benefits?

The amount of dietary fat you should aim for in your weight loss plan can vary depending on various factors, including your total daily calorie intake, individual goals, and preferences. However, there are some general guidelines to consider:

  • Caloric Percentage: A common recommendation is to aim for about 20-35% of your daily caloric intake to come from fats when you’re on a weight loss diet.
  • Type of Fat: Focus on consuming mostly healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, while minimizing saturated and trans fats.
  • Portion Control: Be mindful of portion sizes. While healthy fats are beneficial, they are calorie-dense, so it’s essential not to overconsume them.
  • Individualization: Personalize your fat intake based on your unique needs, preferences, and response to different dietary patterns. Some individuals may feel more satisfied and lose weight effectively with slightly higher fat intake, while others may prefer a lower-fat approach.
  • Overall Diet Quality: Remember that successful weight loss is not solely about fat intake but about creating a balanced and sustainable diet.

Ultimately, the key to successful weight loss is achieving a calorie deficit, where you burn more calories than you consume. While the type and amount of fat you consume play a role in your overall calorie intake, it’s important to focus on a balanced diet that meets your nutritional needs and helps you maintain a healthy and sustainable weight loss journey.

What are some easy ways to incorporate healthy fats in my diet to aid with weight loss?

  • Replace butter with healthier cooking oils such as olive oil, canola oil, or avocado oil. These oils are rich in monounsaturated fats and are suitable for sautéing, frying, or drizzling on salads.
  • Make your own salad dressings using olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs instead of using store-bought dressings that often contain unhealthy fats and added sugars.
  • Choose healthier snack options like a handful of nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts) or seeds (e.g., chia seeds, flaxseeds) instead of processed snacks that may contain trans fats or high levels of saturated fats.
  • Opt for lean protein sources like skinless poultry, fish, and legumes instead of fatty cuts of meat or processed meats that are high in saturated fats.
  • Select low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as skim milk, yogurt, and cheese to reduce saturated fat intake while still getting essential nutrients like calcium.
  • Incorporate fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, trout) into your diet as they are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Choose natural nut butters made from almonds, peanuts, or cashews.
  • Pay attention to food labels to identify unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and excessive saturated fats, and make informed choices when selecting products.

It’s highly recommended to consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional to create a personalised nutrition plan tailored to your specific needs and goals, if you have any medical conditions particularly. They can help you determine the appropriate fat intake and overall diet strategy for successful and sustainable weight loss. Click here to book a free call and learn more here.

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