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You Asked: Is There Anything Wrong With a Fat-Free Diet?

You're asking and I'm answering . . .

Hey Fit,
I've been trying to lose these 15 pounds I seemed to have put on in the past year. I'm exercising regularly and have ditched all fat from my diet. So no meat, fried foods, nuts, peanut butter, oil, butter, baked goods, hydrogenated oils, and I only eat fat-free dairy products. I seem to be losing weight, which is great, but is there anything wrong with this kind of diet?

—Fat Free Fiona

I'm sure many people have gone on fat-free diets in an effort to lose weight, so you're not alone. I'm glad you're asking about whether it's a healthy way to slim down and the answer is yes and no. The reason is because there are both healthy fats our bodies need and unhealthy fats our bodies can stand to go without. So you don't want to ditch every amount of fat imaginable. To find out which ones to eat and which ones to avoid


As you can see from the chart below, unsaturated fats and omega-3s are important to include in our diets since they have cholesterol-lowering properties. They also promote healthy skin and some, like nuts, are great sources of fiber and protein. Only 20 to 35 percent of your diet should include fat, so shoot for 44 to 77 grams of fat a day (for a 2,000 calorie diet). You're doing your body right by getting rid of hydrogenated oils and fried foods, but don't skip out on healthy fats such as nuts, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and olive oil.

AvoidTrans fat such as hydrogenated oils (found in processed foods such as crackers, dips, frozen foods, baking mixes, and baked goods), some margarine, shortening (Crisco), candy (caramels and some chocolate), and some fast foods such as french fries and biscuits because they can increase your risk of heart disease.
Enjoy in moderationSaturated fat such as high-fat dairy products such as butter, cream, whole milk, cheese, and sour cream. Also watch out for high-fat meats such as ground beef, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, ribs, and chicken and turkey skin. Unfortunately coconut and coconut oil and some chocolate contains saturated fat too, so limit these foods because they're hard to digest and full of artery-clogging cholesterol.
Include these — Unsaturated fat since they are essential to your overall health. There are two kinds. The first, monounsaturated fats, can actually lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and maintain HDL (good) cholesterol), so enjoy foods such as avocado, olives, and olive oil, canola and peanut oil, sesame seeds, almonds, cashews, peanuts, and nut butters made from them. The other kind, polyunsaturated fats, can reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, but too much can also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol, so don't go overboard with walnuts, corn and sunflower oil, certain brands of margarine (Earth Balance), and pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
A necessity — Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, sardines, and salmon, soy products such as tofu, walnuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, and canola oil. These have anti-inflammatory properties, can lower cholesterol, and have been found to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.


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