Fats: Good and bad quality fats

I want you to know about the 3 main types of fat in our diets:

  • Unsaturated – These are found as either mono-unsaturated or poly-unsaturated fats. These are the “good” fats for our body. You can identify them because they are usually liquids at room temperature and usually come from plant sources..
  • Saturated – These are the “bad” fats for our body. You can identify them because they are usually solid at room temperature and usually come from animal sources.
  • Trans Fats – These are the “very bad” fats for our body. They are often "man-made" and found in processed and fried foods.

Every gram of pure fat supplies our body with 9 calories.

What do fats do?

One of the major roles of fat in our body is as a very concentrated fuel store. Only 1kg of body fat can fuel an average woman for nearly 4 days!

Fats also play a vital role in the membrane of every cell in our body. It also provides protection by cushioning us from knocks and hits, and insulates us when the temperature drops.

Various vitamins and hormones essential to life are made in our body from fat molecules.

“Good” unsaturated fats decrease levels of our “bad” LDL cholesterol, while increasing levels of our “good” HDL cholesterol.

“Bad” saturated fats increase levels of our “bad” LDL cholesterol. And our bodies can produce saturated fat by itself, so we don’t need to consume any more.

“Very bad” trans fats not only decrease levels of our “good” HDL, but increase levels of our “bad” LDL cholesterol. They are also linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Where do we get fats from?

Unsaturated fats are found mainly in plant based foods, like vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. Remember, these are the "good" fats we should be eating.

Saturated fats are found mainly in animal based foods such as red meat and dairy products. Remember, these are the "bad" fats we want to be cutting down on.

Trans fats are found in man-made, highly processed foods like commercially baked goods, margarines and fried foods. Remember, these are the "very bad" fats we want to be trying to eliminate.

Conclusions.

  • "Eating fat" is not bad for us, but eating too much of the wrong kind of fat can be.
  • Get the majority of your fats from healthy unsaturated oils from plant based foods.
  • Limit the amount of unhealthy saturated fats from animal based foods.
  • Try to eliminate entirely the very bad trans fats from man-made processed foods.
  • Be aware, many processed foods labelled as “low fat” have had their fat content replaced with simple carbohydrate sugars.

So the same as with carbohydrates, you should think of fats as being of good and bad quality.

Homework

Take a look back at your food diary from last week and try to identify meals with the most bad quality fats. Then have a think about how you could replace them with good quality fats instead.

On a scale of 1-10, decide how confident you are that you can incorporate this new habit over the next week or 2. If it is 7 or below, either change to a different habit, or make this habit easier.

Then use the following document to help you change your habit for the better over the next week or 2.

You can either:

  • Download and print it out for free.
  • Hire me to coach you through it and you will get online versions we can work through together by clicking here.
Homework - Healthy eating habits PDF.pdf