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Monday, August 27, 2007

Best Diet Ever: 1/3 of Calories Should Come from Fat


photo by A.Ddiction

Fat is unfairly demonized because people think that the fat they eat ends up as body fat. That simply isn't true. Excess calories end up stored as body fat, but fat is no more likely to end up as stored fat than any other type of food. Fat is a necessary nutrient, and while our diets are typically high in bad fats, they tend to be low in the healthiest types of fat. Aim to consume more foods high in monounsaturated fats like avocados, olive oil, and canola oil. Other good choices for healthy fats, especially the Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, are salmon, flax seeds and oil, and nuts.

Low fat diets have been popular for a long time but no research has ever shown that low fat diets are superior to any other diets in reducing body fat. In fact, new research is suggesting that a low fat, high carbohydrate diet may increase the likelihood that you will become obese, but regular exercise can mute this effect. If you do not engage in regular exercise, you should definitely minimize the processed carbohydrates in your diet, but that post is for another day.

Another benefit of consuming fat is that is has a hunger-curbing effect. It is true that fat has more than twice the calories per gram as protein or carbs, but foods high in fat are satisfying for a longer period of time than foods high in carbohydrates or protein. I don't recommend you do things like add half and half to everything to increase the fat in each meal (you listening, Atkins dieters), but do eat more healthy fats by switching to olive oil, or canola oil, and eat more nuts throughout the day.

As an experiment, for about two weeks, I tried to keep the fat content in my diet to below 10%. I was able to hang on for the two weeks, but I can tell you, I've never felt more hungry in my life. I was logging my food so I was eating the same number of calories, mostly carbohydrates, but I could hardly concentrate on anything else because all I could think about was food. If your goal is to lose weight, a very low fat diet is definitely not recommended.

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