If You're Trying to Lose Weight, You Need More of This Essential Nutrient, Not Less

If it's been a while since your last diet, you might feel inclined to shun fats in an effort to lose weight — but public opinion has shifted in recent years, and "good" fats are not only considered an important part of any meal, but also key to shedding pounds. As long as you don't overdo it, anyway.

The Institute of Medicine recommends getting 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories from fat. Healthy fats include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, Christy Brissette, a registered dietitian and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition in Chicago, told POPSUGAR — like those found in fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil.

"Fat is digested more slowly than other nutrients and makes your food more filling and satisfying, which makes it easier to stick to your weight loss diet," Christy said. "Research suggests that people have trouble staying on low-fat diets for long because they get too hungry. This explains why the Mediterranean diet is so satisfying — it includes healthy fats."

According to Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, a registered dietitian and owner of BZ Nutrition in New York City, filling up on nutrient-dense foods can prevent overeating and over-snacking later on, which will cut out unnecessary calories and help you lose weight. "Including healthy fats in every meal and snack is a great way to reach your weight-loss goals," she told POPSUGAR.

Christy suggests eating whole seeds, including flax, pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and hemp, because you'll get the added benefit of fiber, which can help you feel full and support weight loss. Likewise, eggs are filling because they're rich in healthy fats, as well as high-quality protein.

"Keeping healthy fats to the right portion size though is important, as they are a higher in calories than protein, fruits, and veggies. I always tell my clients to keep a pre-portioned size of nuts on them for afternoon snacking — my go-to is a 100-calorie pistachio snack pack," Brigitte said. "This portion size is perfect to keep weight-loss goals in check, while the nuts' healthy fats (and protein and fiber) will fill you up."

Brigitte also recommends using olive oil as a salad dressing or cooking oil, and adding seeds, like hemp hearts, to your oatmeal, salads, and soups. It's a habit you won't regret maintaining long after you've reached your goal weight.