Fat is a nutrient that is a contributor to the increasing problem of obesity in the world today. It’s stored in the fat cells of the body. The number of fat cells is estimated to be around 50 billion for the average person. It can be up to 100 billion for the obese person.
Fat cells are like storage tanks of energy to be used for later use. It has been shown that obese people who binge eat may stimulate baby fat cells to sprout to increase the number of fat cells they have.
Fats are found in foods such as butter, margarine, oils, fats, dripping, nuts and oil seeds. Research conducted indicates that good fats such as fish oils especially deep sea fish, olive oil, canola oil, avocado and nuts contain important fatty acids which if taken by people aged 65 plus reduced the risk of a fatal heart attack by 44%.
Other names for fats include Lard, animal shortening, coconut oil, palm oil, vegetable oil, butterfat, whole milk solids, copra, tallow, chocolate chips, shortening, margarine, cocoa butter.
Now lets have a look at the different types of fat. There are three types of fat to found in the diet.
Saturated fats – are found mainly in animal products and do the most damage and are the most related to the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries. . Research has indicated that saturated fats in the diet can increase LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, which is the unwanted cholesterol and should be avoided. The following foods contain this type of fat:
Cakes, biscuits and pastries
Monounsaturated fats – Monounsaturated fats help to decrease the cholesterol and LDL levels in the blood. The following foods contain this type of fat:
Polyunsaturated fats – Polyunsaturated fats in small quantities can help to decrease total cholesterol. Examples of polyunsaturated Fats – would be vegetable oil and palm oil.
As pointed out before, consuming fats is the major culprit that leads to fat being on the human body mainly because fats are high in calories. I recommended that people eat less than 20% of total their total calories from fat.
We also know that eating too much fat leads to health problems and weight-gain, but we do need some healthy fats in our diet. Fats are a source of soluble vitamins A, D and E.
Fats provide hormone production and skin health and protection of vital organs and insulation Too much fat in the diet however, can increase the risk of a number of lifestyle diseases that are common in the western world
Limit the saturated fats in your diet – which includes butter, cream, full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, cakes, pastries and fried foods.
Choose lean meats where possible and trim visible fat and skin before cooking
Select low fat dairy products where possible
Be aware of the hidden fats in processed foods and foods high in salt
Choose liquid fats over solid fats e.g. olive and canola oil over butter
Include amounts of unsaturated or ‘good fats’ in your diet. Sources include fish, olive and canola oil, nuts and avocado
Also try to include the good omega-3 fats daily fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are good sources and try to eat three fish meals a week if you can.
Below is a list of fat substitutions that you can apply in your everyday diet whether it is at work, home, or dining out.
Current FoodChange to
Cheese High fat types
Cheddar and other hard cheeses.Lower fat varieties e.g. Edam, Cottage, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Gouda.
Chips/French friesThick cut ‘wedges’ or oven baked chips
ChocolateEat in moderation and buy the best quality. Substitute jelly babies or other sugar treat.
CreamReduced fat cream, use low-fat yoghurt or evaporated skim milk.
Creamed SoupsCheck label for fat, use clear soups.
Croissants, pastriesBagels, bread rolls, finger buns.
CustardLow fat custard
DoughnutsCrumpets, plain scones, raisin loaf.
Ice CreamReduced fat Varieties.
Meat (beef, lamb, pork)Lean beef, trim lamb, new pork or other 90%. Fat free cuts/mince.
Muesli BarsCheck label for fat, buy breakfast bars, Power bars.
PiesReduced fat pies, use filo pastry
Salad dressings Mayonnaise, FrenchUse vinegar or lemon juice
Savoury biscuitsWheat crisp bread
Sweet biscuitsPlain biscuits wheat meal.
TV mealsLower fat varieties (check label for fat).
There are many ways to achieving a reduced fat diet. Here are some examples:
If you like butter or margarine on toast, only have it on the last slice you eat.
If you don’t feel like a solid breakfast, have a fruit smoothie.
Mix up your own cereal from two or three types and give your creation a
If you eat lunch away from home, plan it the night before. Make sandwiches
before you go to bed.
Try some thick vegetable soup with a fresh bread roll to dip.
Invest in a cool bag to keep your lunch fresh.
Try oven-baked potato wedges with a salsa topping.
Go for fresh pasta with a quick tomato and basil sauce.
for dessert, have a piece of fresh fruit with a yoghurt topping.
Salsa dip with pretzels
Plain fruit loaf
Vanilla dairy custard.
Before a workout
Small glass of fruit juice
Banana and Custard
Half a slice of toast with jam.
After a workout
Rice cakes with honey.
On your desk bottle of water or glass to use at the water dispenser.
In your desk piece of fruit, small pull-top can of baked beans/creamed
Bring a few ingredients from home to be combined at work.
Keep some cutlery where you work.
On a Plane
Order a special meal when you book your ticket. You’ll usually get served
Ask for an extra roll or two.
At the Hotel
Take your own favourite cereal and reduced fat milk.
Ask that the foods be removed from the snack bar. Eat your own low fat
Burger Bar Plain grilled burger, skim milk milkshake.
Pizza Parlour Gourmet pizza with lots of veggies, go easy on the cheese.
Kebab House A little meat with a lot of salad.
Sandwich Bar Salad sandwiches/Rolls.
Club A little meat, heaps of mashed/jacked potato and veggies, pasta/rice.
Indian Lots of boiled rice, tikka, plain naan, dahl soup, raita.
Chinese Lots of boiled rice, chop suey, steamed dishes, plain noodles.
Italian Tomato-based dishes, plain bread.
Suggestions in General
1. Record your food intake to identify problem areas. E.g. emotional eating, unwanted hunger cravings, over-eating.
2. Pay specific attention to the times when you over eat.
3. Try to avoid severe food restriction (like fasting, low calorie dieting).
4. When measuring your progress, monitor body fat levels, not weight
throw the scale out.
5. Aim for slow fat loss (one pound / week)