We are going to round out our nutrition FAQ and finish with the third macronutrient that is in our diet every day - fat! Now before you swear off fats, I need you to know that these are essential to your diet and overall health. It's time to learn the difference between good and bad fats and how YOU can include these in your meal plan. Let's go with our FAQ round 3! (PS If you missed our carbohydrate FAQ, click here and if you missed our protein FAQ, click here and get caught up!)
Q: What are fats and what are they found in?
A: Fat is a macronutrient (along with carbs and protein) that is consumed in the diet. It can be found in 2 different forms, saturated and unsaturated fats in foods such as animal fats (meat, cheese, yogurt), eggs, nuts and seeds, fish, avocados, margarine, flax and cooking oils.
Q: There are 2 types of fat? Tell me more.
A: Saturated and unsaturated fats are two categories of dietary fats. The difference between them is how the chemical bonds are formed. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (like margarine) and are present in red meat and baked goods.
Q: Which one should I be eating?
A: When you include fats in the diet, nutritionists recommend to include more unsaturated fats than saturated. You've probably heard of these as mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats. You can find these in avocados, fish, almonds, vegetable oils and flax seeds.
Q: Why do I need fats in my meal plan?
A: Not only does it help you stay full between meals (think LESS snacking!), it helps to keep skin, hair and nails strong and healthy. It helps in hormone production and help you keep your cardiovascular system healthy.
Q: What is a healthy way to include fats in my meals?
A: Add a little bit at each meal! Canada Food Guide recommends 10-35% of your caloric intake come from healthy fats. For breakfast, I like to add chia seeds to my oatmeal and enjoy scrambled eggs. One of my clients tells me she combines 1/2 an avocado with tuna on Wasa crackers for a healthy snack that includes fibre, protein and healthy fats! For dinner, you could include salmon with a side of asparagus, red bell peppers and 1/2 cup of brown rice or quinoa.
Q: What is the biggest rule you tell your clients?
A: Eat fats in moderation! They are the highest calorie macronutrient at 9 calories per gram. An avocado can have up to 360 calories each, so make sure you balance it with other lower calorie choices.
What sources of healthy fats do you consume on a regular basis? I hope after this 3 part series, you are feeling much more educated on the type of foods that make up the meals you eat.