Dietary Fats and Weight Loss
Fat is an essential nutrient that your body uses for a variety of reasons including energy and to assist with the absorption of certain vitamins. There are many different types of fats; some are created in the body while the most common types of fat are found in the food you eat. Although your body needs dietary fats, it can be harmful to your health to consume too much of the wrong kinds of fat. If you are working through a medical weight loss program it is important that you understand the different types of fat and how much should be included in your diet.
Different Types of Dietary Fats
Some of the fats we consume can be better for you than others. In fact, some dietary fats can actually be helpful when consumed in moderation.
Helpful dietary fats include:
- Monounsaturated fats. These fats can be beneficial to your health when used to replace trans or saturated fats. They reduce bad cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. Monounsaturated fats are typically high in Vitamin E and provide nutrients to aid in developing and maintaining your body’s cells. Typically olive oil, canola oil, peanut butter, avocados, nuts and seeds are high in monounsaturated fats.
- Polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats also help to lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease and stroke. These fats are also beneficial because they include fatty acids that your body needs but cannot produce on its own. These fats play a role in the normal growth and development of your body. Foods and oils such as soybean oil, safflower oil, walnuts and sunflower seeds are all high in polyunsaturated fats.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fats that can decrease your risk of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), decrease triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure. Seafood such as shellfish and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, trout and tuna are all sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Harmful dietary fats include:
- Saturated fats. Saturated fats are high in cholesterol and increase your chances of developing high cholesterol, which could lead to heart disease or other harmful disorders. Saturated fats occur naturally in a variety of foods. Most saturated fats are found in meats and dairy products such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry, lard and cream, butter and other whole milk dairy products.
- Trans Fats. Trans fats are fats that have been created in a process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oil and is then used to make foods taste better and last longer. Trans fats raise your harmful cholesterol levels and lower your good cholesterol levels. A diet high in trans fats increases your chances of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Generally, highly processed foods and fried foods are high in trans fats and are often listed on the ingredients label as “partially hydrogenated oils”.
Fats during Medical Weight Loss
During your medical weight loss program, you want to avoid foods containing trans and saturated fats. These fats will prevent weight loss and increase your chances of developing harmful diseases and health conditions that you are working to eliminate. You want your diet to include the essential fats your body needs, but in moderation. Be sure to eat lean meats and fish, plenty of nuts, seeds and fruits and vegetables. Your best results will come from ensuring that all of your food choices promote and encourage your medical weight loss and wellness journey.