Dieter's Strategy: Eat low-fat foods.
Lifestyle and Weight Management Strategy: Eat the right fats.
The fat-free craze peaked in the 1990s, but during that time so did the number of overweight Americans! To this day, many dieters still avoid oils, butter, nuts, and other fat-containing foods.
What they are thinking:
If you don't want your body to store fat, then don't eat fat. Many dieters also know that one gram of fat packs nine calories, while protein and carbohydrate both contain just four calories per gram. Dieters can stretch the same number of calories a lot farther if they eat mostly carbs and protein in place of fat.
What they are missing:
A 2007 study found that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats can help prevent weight gain. In fact, multiple studies are showing that eating moderate amounts of fat can actually help you lose weight. The key is to make sure you're eating the right kinds. Saturated and trans fats are unhealthy because they raise your levels of LDL (so-called "bad cholesterol"). Trans fats may also lower your HDL (or "good cholesterol") levels and increase your risk for heart disease—not to mention weight gain. Therefore, you want to make sure that your daily intake includes 0 trans-fats and a moderate source of saturated fat. The sources of saturated fat that are okay in moderation are lean animal proteins, low-fat diary, and coconut. They key here is moderation. The majority of your fat should be coming from unsaturated fats (which include mono- and polyunsaturated), which have important benefits. Here's why you should include these fats in your diet.
1. Keep You Satisfied: Unsaturated fats promote satiety, reduce hunger, and minimally impact blood sugar. That's important because if your blood sugar dips too low, you may experience cravings, brain fog, overeating, and low energy, making it extremely difficult to lose weight and stay focused on doing so.
2. Maintain and Protect Heart Health: Unlike trans-fats, monounsaturated fats found in vegetable oils (such as olive and canola) and avocados have the added power to help lower LDL and reduce your risk of heart disease.
3. Reduce Injury: If you exercise (which all of us should be doing on a regular basis), unsaturated fats can help stave off injuries, such as stress fractures. A 2008 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that female athletes on low-fat diets are at increased risk of injury. Even if you're not an athlete, including healthy fats in your diet on a daily basis will help to prevent injury as you get older.
4. Decrease and/or Improve Joint Pain: Omega-3 fatty acids—which are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in fish (particularly in salmon and mackerel), walnuts, and ground flaxseed—possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe knee, back, and joint aches and pains that plague many individuals. What this will mean is pain-free days, enabling you to be more active - even as you age!