Dietary fat is a topic that always raises eyebrows when I tell people that they need to eat more fat. And I’m not referring to increased saturated fat intake from junk food, of course.
But foods high in fat have received a bad reputation, even though many of them may contain essential fatty acids and unsaturated fat that your body needs.
So, we teamed up with a dietitian to help you better understand what the different unhealthy and healthy fats are, what is too much fat, and share some tips for improving your diet.
How Much Fat Does Your Body Need?
For most people, the dietary reference intake is about 20% to 30% of total daily calories to come from fat. Based on an average 2000 calorie diet, that would be about 45 to 75 grams of fat per day.
You work that out by calculating that 1 gram of fat contains nine calories .
But how do you know how much fat you’re consuming?
For that, you should get a diet journaling app like MyFitnessPal or Noom.
You simply enter everything you eat in a day, and it will tell you what your macronutrient breakdown is.
If you’re above your daily target, then aim to limit total fat intake by cutting out unhealthy trans fats first.
More on that shortly.
Why Is Fat Important For The Human Body?
Fat intake has been given a bad name in many media outlets, and you’ll often see reports about health issues from fat alongside pictures of burgers and meat with visible fat.
And while certain types of fat will lead to developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, other types are vital to the human body.
For example, many oils like olive oil bring important health benefits like fatty acids, building blocks for cell walls, stable energy, and a way to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
So, rather than just blindly switching to low-fat foods, consider the types of fat you’re consuming instead.
Different Types Of Fat
Nutrition labels are notoriously difficult to read, and clever marketing on junk food has obscured things even more.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind.
1. Monounsaturated Fats or Unsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fat is typically found in an oily form at room temperature, and olives are a great source. A recent study found that this type of fat may lead to stable blood glucose levels and controlled weight loss .
2. Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats are another important healthy source of fat, and they are mainly the Omega-3s and Omega-6s. They are most common in fish, but most people tend to take in more Omega-6s than Omega-3s, which you should try and get a better balance of.
3. Saturated Fats
You will need some saturated fat for cooking as these fats are more stable at high temperatures. But you have to be careful and limit saturated fats as many studies have shown that they may raise cholesterol levels (especially LDL cholesterol) .
4. Trans Fats
Now we get to the really bad types called trans fat. The majority of trans fats in people’s diets are artificially made by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fat to create a cheap product with similar properties to saturated fat.
It can cause many serious issues like insulin resistance, gut inflammation, and restricted heart and blood vessels.
Healthy Low Fat Foods
So, the first thing you should know is that you need to limit saturated and trans fat intake. That means reducing fried or sautéed foods and all that highly processed crap you see on supermarket shelves.
But there are a few other simple changes you can make to move away from unhealthy fat and towards healthy types.
- Reduced-fat sour cream
- Enjoy low-fat cheeses
- Low-fat yogurt
- Nonfat frozen yogurt
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Unsalted peanuts
- Hemp seeds
And, if you like eating meat, choose lean meats and avoid frying them with hardened fat.
“Protein sources, especially red meat and dairy products, contain saturated fat. Good, low-fat sources of protein include lean meat, fish, poultry without skin, beans, lentils, tofu, fat-free or low-fat yogurt, milk, and cottage cheese.” - ClevelandClinic.org.
Can You Eat Too Much Healthy Fat?
Yes, you can eat too many healthy fats, which can go against you when you want to lose weight.
While trans fat and some saturated fats are the main ones that cause health issues, if your total calorie intake is too high, then reducing the total fat in your diet isn’t a bad idea.
However, you need to carefully balance this and avoid only choosing fat-free products as they often contain lots of sugar to make up for the lack of flavor.
Stick with the mono and polyunsaturated fat and aim for it to be about 25% of your daily calories, and you should be in a good position.
Are 100 Grams of Fat a Day Too Much?
Yes, 100 grams of fat is probably too much for most people. It would deliver about 900 calories which is almost half the daily total calories for an average adult.
Do Good Fats Make You Fat?
Yes, even good fats can make you fat and make you struggle to lose weight. But the solution is not to switch to reduced-fat or fat-free products but to reduce your overall calories.
It’s All About Understanding Different Fat Types
Too many people believe that eating low-fat foods is the answer to their weight issues. But if you simply eat healthier fats and avoid saturated fat, then the benefits will be a lot more important.
With about 50 grams from healthy sources of fat, you’ll lower blood cholesterol levels and significantly reduce inflammation.
Try it out by tracking your diet (by Noom or any other great meal-tracking app), and then report back to us how much of a difference it made for you.