Contrary to what we have been taught to believe, it is beneficial, actually essential, that we have fats in our diet. But we’ve been led to believe that eating fat will make us fat. Therefore, we should eat low-fat products, even if they contain processed ingredients that are harmful to our bodies.
So here’s the truth: fats are an essential macronutrient that we need in our diets to maintain a healthy weight. Macronutrients are the nutritional components that our bodies require in large doses to carry out basic bodily functions (like breathing, for example – we should all do that). The three macronutrients that we need are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. In general, a regular healthy diet with no special dietary concerns should contain about 30% fats, 30% proteins, and 40% carbohydrates (yes, carbs). Not all carbs are bad! Half of your daily intake should come from whole grains and half from fruits and vegetables. Consuming these macronutrients in the right ratio helps keep our bodies functioning properly. Fat is needed to burn fat. The key is to consume fat in the right proportions so that you are not left with excess fat that your body will store as extra weight.
Let’s take a look at the special functions of each of the macronutrients:
- source of energy
- slows absorption of food for energy production
- needed for healthy liver function
- adds to or enhances the flavor of food
- needed for absorption of vitamins
- supports the immune system
- helps muscles contract and move
- produces hormones
- source of energy
- promotes healthy GI tract
- promotes overall bodily function
It’s never a good idea to significantly reduce or completely eliminate any of these macronutrients from your diet. Diets that suggest you eliminate all carbs or fat or one particular food group are not the ideal way to lose weight. The key to healthy eating is to make good choices and eat real foods that are good sources of macronutrients and vitamins. So what are good sources?
Good sources of fats:
- fatty fish
- organic unsalted butter
- coconut butter
- goat cheese
- Greek yogurt
- oils from nuts and seeds
Good sources of protein:
- hard-boiled eggs
- lean cuts of meat
Good sources of carbohydrates:
- whole grains
The key to using the macronutrients to maintain a healthy weight is moderation and balance. Keeping these ratios consistent day-to-day will help your body function properly and in the way it was designed to operate. If you aren’t aware of the ratios you consume, I would encourage you to check out one of the many smart phone apps. There are some really good apps that can help you determine areas that your diet can be improved (or show you how well you are doing). If you need some suggestions for good apps, please contact me and I will be happy to share some with you!
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