To burn fat, you need to eat fat – the good kind, of course.
For a long time, we were all told to shun fat and supermarkets responded with shelves upon shelves of products with the “fat-free” label emblazoned on it. However, you’ll be making a big fat mistake by avoiding this nutrient if you are trying to maintain your weight.
For starters, fats play an important role in our body, acting as an energy reserve, protecting our organs and helping the body absorb and process nutrients. That is why we require some fat in our diet. According to the Health Promotion Board, fats should make up about 25 to 30 per cent of our total energy intake. Based on a typical 2000kcal diet, the total fat allowance is about 55 to 65g a day.
If you are trying to shed kilos, the fat that you consume should come from unsaturated sources (monounsaturated and polysaturated). Examples of such foods include fish, seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables, olive oil and avocados. Besides improving heart health by removing LDL cholesterol from the arteries, these healthy foods also help you to burn fat without having to cut calories.
Here are some ways in which fat can help you to lose weight.
1. Fats can boost your metabolism
The body requires three macronutrients for energy – carbohydrates, protein and fats. A gram of fat provides the body with twice the amount of energy of the other two. Once the energy obtained from carbohydrates is spent, the body would turn to the calories from fat as a source of energy, leaning out the body. Additionally, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that stubborn “old” fat stored in the body’s peripheral tissues around the belly, thighs and butt, can’t be burned without the consumption of “new” dietary fat. When consumed, the nutrient helps to break down the existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha (the protein that revs up metabolism) and fat-burning pathways through the liver.
2. Fats can stop you from snacking
Foods replete with healthy (unsaturated) fat like nuts and avocados are more filling in nature. Fats are extremely satiating, preventing you from overeating or snacking before your next meal. According to researchers at the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition, when fat is consumed by the body, cholecystokinin (CCK) and the gut hormone peptide YY (PYY) is released in the body. These two hormones join forces to cause a decrease in appetite, suppress hunger and make you feel full. Hence, you are less likely to snack between meals or overeat.
3. Fats are needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
Many essential nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble. Without fat, your body can’t absorb these nutrients. This in turn results in vitamin deficiencies which can bring on a whole host of problems like dry skin, blindness, brittle bones and muscle pains. Moreover, these vitamins are also crucial in maintaining energy, focus and muscle health, all of which work to maintain your weight, Vitamin E, for instance, is a potent antioxidant that is essential for your metabolic health, according to a study, “Vitamin E: function and metabolism” published in the Faseb Journal.
Like with most things, moderation is key. Healthy fats can help with weight loss, but only if eaten in moderation. As fat is a concentrated source of calories (9kcal/g compared to 4kcal/g for carbohydrate and protein), eating too much of it (even the good types) may lead to weight gain and obesity. The Health Promotion Board recommends consuming about 55 to 65g of fat a day, based on a typical 2000kcal diet.
A version of this article first appeared on www.herworld.com.