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The FAT debate: Examples of Smarter Food Choices for Weight Loss

Today, I want to tackle a common question that often arises in the world of nutrition:

 Is opting for low-fat alternatives truly the key to a healthier lifestyle?

The problem with the click-batey nutrition information that you see online is that everything is VERY absolute. It's a YES or NO answer and if you go against the fringe you'll probably get a lot more clicks, shares, and comments.

In all actuality, most answers are very nuanced.

That's not typically what we want to hear though is it?

We want yes or no, good or bad.

So in the spirit of making things easier on you today, I am providing this education from the context that YOUR goal is probably weight loss, or improving your body composition (more muscle, less body fat).

A Little Background on Fat Calories & Weight loss

The foods we eat are made up of one or more of the three main macronutrients: Protein, Carbs, and Fat.

Each gram of protein or carbohydrate has 4 calories.

Each gram of fat has 9 calories.

One gram of fat is over TWICE as calorie dense as a gram of protein or carb.

When we consider that foods higher in fat are typically extra delicious, this can be a recipe for making it really hard on yourself to regulate your portion size. Remember, our ancestral brain is wired to eat MORE food when things are high calorie and taste great. This was a survival mechanism hundreds of years ago when food was scarce. Clearly that's no longer the case. 😉

At the end of the day, when it come to losing weight, calories matter.

Even though dietary fat (at 9 cals/gram) has benefits and is very necessary...

  • It pays to watch the overall fat level in your diet.

  • When you eat less fat, you'll eat significantly less calories.

  • We can usually swap out high fat options for lower fat options without sacrificing the amount of food we eat (win!)

  • Many times, lower fat options mean higher protein or at least the same amount for less calories. (win-win!)

  • By decreasing dietary fat as part of a healthy lifestyle, we many times decrease body weight and this actually improves many of our health outcomes.

Teaching Time: 

Let's put this into practice and break down some popular food choices and compare the full-fat versions with their low-fat counterparts to uncover the differences!

1. Whole Eggs vs. Egg Whites: - Whole Eggs (2 large): 140 calories, 12g protein, 10g fat - Egg Whites (9T or about 3 L/XL whites): 75 calories, 15g protein, 0g fat

2. Full-Fat Salad Dressing vs. Light: - Full-Fat (2 tbsp): 140 calories, 15g fat - Light (2 tbsp): 50 calories, 4g fat

3. Turkey Pepperoni vs. Regular Pepperoni: - Turkey Pepperoni (16 slices): 70 calories, 10g protein, 3.5g fat - Regular Pepperoni (16 slices): 140 calories, 6g protein, 13g fat

4. Thick Cut Bacon vs. Center Cut Bacon: - Thick Cut Bacon (2 slices): 160 calories, 12g fat, 12g protein - Center Cut Bacon (2 slices): 60 calories, 4.5g fat, 5g protein

5. Lean Ground Meat (90% lean or above) vs. Standard (70-80% lean): - Standard Ground Meat (4 oz): 290 calories, 19g protein, 23g fat - Lean Ground Meat (4 oz): 160 calories, 21g protein, 9g fat

6. Whole Milk Greek Yogurt vs. Non-Fat Greek Yogurt: - Whole Milk Yogurt (3/4 cup): 170 calories, 15g protein, 9g fat - Non-Fat Greek Yogurt (3/4 cup): 90 calories, 16g protein, 0g fat

8. Full-Fat Cheese vs. Light or Part-Skim: - Full-Fat Cheese (1 oz): 110 calories, 9g fat, 6g protein - Light Cheese (1 oz): 80 calories, 5g fat, 6g protein

9. Chicken or Turkey Sausage vs. Pork: -Turkey Sausage (3 links): 130 calories, 8g fat, 13g protein - Pork Sausage (3 links): 270 calories, 26g fat, 8g protein

At the end of the day, when it comes to weight loss and the standard American diet, opting for lower-fat options can indeed be advantageous. If there is a full fat version of something you particularly enjoy, by all means, go for it but measure your portion if weight loss is a goal!

Remember, moderation and balance are always key.

Low-fat options can be a valuable tool in your weight loss journey,  but it's important to find what works best for you!

 I work extensively with my 1:1 clients to dial in all aspects of a healthy lifestyle (which includes nutrition!) for them and I'd love to chat and see if it might be a fit for you too!


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