Nutrition | Saturated vs unsaturated fat

When discussing weigh-loss, ‘fat’ becomes a bit of a taboo, right? Something we want to avoid?

Moreover, when we’re losing weight it’s natural to assume that all fat needs to go – from our food and from our bodies.

This raises the question… Should a conscientious slimmer cut out fat completely?

Before we look at this in more detail, first we’ll reveal five basic fatty facts

1.  There are two types of fat – saturated and unsaturated

2. Fat is required for the body to process vitamins A, D, E and K

3. All types of fat provide 9 calories per gram

4. Unsaturated fats (in small helpings) form an essential part of your diet

5. Unsaturated fats help to maintain a healthy cholesterol level

To unpick this a little more, let’s look at the difference between ‘saturated’ and ‘unsaturated’ fats.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Saturated fat is derived from meats and dairy products – think butter and animal fats (goose fat, lard) and some vegetable products – coconut and palm oils.

Generally speaking, saturated fats should be avoided if you’re trying to slim down, or at least only consumed occasionally, in very small helpings.

Saturated fats contribute to increased levels of bad cholesterol and can lead to weight gain.

Unsaturated fats

Unsaturated fats are derived from vegetables, nuts and seeds, including avocado, olive, rapeseed, sesame seeds and fish.

Unsaturated fats, when consumed in moderation promote healthy cholesterol and deliver important fatty acids to the body which the body can’t make itself.

It’s recommended that you choose foods which contain unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats.

With that in mind, we know that saturated fats should be avoided. But, what about unsaturated fats? What should we be eating?

Well, to answer that, we need to get a little bit scientific (don’t worry, it’s not going to be too complicated).

Unsaturated fats fall into two further categories – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

 

  • Monounsaturated fats help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels  
  • Polyunsaturated fats also help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and contain fatty acids which are very good for you

When choosing foods to eat during and after your weight-loss journey with the SkinnyJab plan, we recommend that you make a conscious swap from saturated fats to unsaturated fats.

Here are some tips to get you started on your swap from sat to unsat…

 

  1. Lean meats – swap your meats for low fat alternatives. Trim off any visible fat and choose lean mince or beef, fish, turkey or skinless chicken portions  
  2. Milk – swap your regular milk for skimmed (less than 1% fat)  
  3. Oil – swap butter and animal fats for vegetable-based oils like rapeseed or olive; try spray oils rather than pouring oils  
  4. Avoid pastries – avoid pastries, biscuits and cake (we know it sounds obvious) as they contain high levels of sat-fat. Instead choose controlled portions of wholemeal or whole-seed bread  
  5. Cheese – if you can’t face cutting out cheese completely, choose wisely. Some cheeses are lower in sat-fat than others; cottage cheese, reduced fat mozzarella, paneer and hallumi are lower in sat-fat than cheddar, brie and Edam for example

When you’re looking at the nutritional value of foods in the supermarket, pay attention to the saturated fat content. Where possible, look for foods which contain less than 2% (or 2g per 100g) saturated fat.

So. Back to our original question… Should a conscientious slimmer cut out fat completely?

The answer surprisingly is no – unsaturated fats are good for you in moderation, but do avoid those pesky saturated fats.

We referred to the British Heart Foundation website when producing this article, by the way. For more information, visit their website by clicking here.

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