Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fat-fighting Foods to Add to Your Diet

Fat-fighting Foods to Add to Your Diet

Many women cite their battle with a little extra bulge as a fight that never seems to end. And, while we may know that fat is a necessary component of a healthy diet, all too often, some of the fat we eat is far from beneficial and can prevent our weight loss goals from becoming reality.

It's time to put down those boxing gloves, step out of the ring and really understand your enemy.

GalTime’s nutrition expert and author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips, Elisa Zied, is in your corner and has some tips to help you make the fat in your food work for you.

To start, for weight loss, Zied suggests looking beyond fat alone and instead considering your entire calorie intake:

“There are no foods that magically help you burn fat, but cutting calories by a few hundred each day and making sure to consume enough protein and other key nutrients your body needs can help you lose weight slowly and gradually.”

However, in restricting how much you eat, you’re bound to get hungry and start to crave the foods you know won’t help you reach your end goal. Now is the time to make purposeful choices about what you eat, so you pack power with each punch. Zied suggests choosing foods with lots of protein and fiber to fill you up, leaving you less vulnerable to indulging later on.

Here's her top list of foods that are essential to a fat-conscious diet:

avocado and olive oil: they’re rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat

beans, nuts/seeds, fish and lean meats and poultry: they’re flavorful, versatile, and filling, and fish/meats/soybeans provide very high quality protein; nuts and seeds are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat

low fat and nonfat dairy foods, like milk and yogurt: they’re packed with protein to fill you up, and provide plenty of calcium and vitamin D (read the nutrition labels to make sure the yogurt has Vitamin D) to build and preserve bone

whole grains: they’re rich in complex carbohydrates (a key energy source), contain some plant protein, and pack in B vitamins (such as folate, thiamin, and niacin), and the minerals iron and magnesium; they may also be a good source of fiber

fruits and veggies: they leave you feeling full thanks to their high water and fiber content

For a healthy heart, it’s smart to emphasize foods that are rich in unsaturated fats (like avocado, and nuts and seeds) and minimize those rich in saturated fat (like full fat dairy products, fatty meats, or cheesy or buttery foods) or trans fats (some margarines, breaded and fried foods, baked goods and many other packaged foods).

But remember, fat is still fat, and no matter what the source, one gram of fat packs in 9 calories (vs one gram of carbohydrate or protein, each of which have 4 calories per gram). Zied warns that women should still be conscious of how much total fat they consume:

“Women should limit healthy fats, for example, oils like olive and canola, salad dressings made with these oils, to about 5 tsp a day, and limit saturated and trans fats to about 10 percent of total calories. Solid fats and added sugars should be limited to about 8 to 13 percent of total calories--about 120 to 250 calories for women who consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day, respectively, according to current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

When making choices off a menu or in the grocery store, Zied says the fat-fighter should pick fruits and vegetables. Be sure to pick those prepared in the lowest fat, lowest sugar form (eg without creamy or cheesy sauces or added sugars) or added salt.

Also, choose fish or very lean meat (for example, sirloin or flank steak), and low-fat or non fat dairy foods. She recommends limiting or avoiding anything battered, breaded or deep fried, choosing vegetable-based sauces over creamy/cheesy ones, and to limit added sugar intake. Zied urges you to “read those packaged food labels!”

So, it comes down to understanding just who your opponent is and picking the right one to take on. Knock down those unhealthy saturated and trans fats, and instead, choose the foods that will keep you strong, full, and on the road to weight loss for the long haul.

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