Im Fat but I Hardly Eat a Thing!

Sound familiar?

Well, it does to us, we hear it all the time.

If youre wondering why your over weight just wont budge or is going up again when youve cut down on food and yet still feel hungry most of the time?

Often its not the quantity of food that you have to reduce but the type. Food high in fat is usually the main culprit.

Fat is the most concentrated energy nutrient, containing more than double the energy found in proteins and carbohydrates. So diets high in fat, whether saturated or polyunsaturated, may cause your energy intake to be more than you need.

What are saturated and polyunsaturated fats?

Fat comprises three types – saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Saturated fats are mainly derived from animal sources such as meat and dairy products (e.g cream and cheeses), while polyunsaturated fats can only be found in vegetable products.

Polyunsaturated fats musnt be confused with monounsaturated fats, which can be obtained from vegetable and animal sources.

High concentrations of saturated fats are said to increase cholesterol within the blood although the medical profession still discuss this subject at great length.

High levels of blood cholesterol have been linked with atherosclerosis (the thickening of arteries which leads to thrombosis and coronary heart disease). Low blood cholesterol levels reduce the chances of high blood pressure.

Polyunsaturated fats are associated with low cholesterol. So not only is the reduction of fat greatly beneficial to the diet but also worth trying to reduce cholesterol levels.

The body needs some fat to provide energy, essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesized by the body alone and fat-soluble vitamins. But too much fat and especially saturated fat, has also been linked to heart disease.

In fact, cardiovascular disease currently accounts for a large proportion of deaths in Western industrial countries.

Obesity and diabetes are also common complaints in affluent societies (like ours – even in the current recession) and are often caused by diet (the obesity always is!)

In 1984, the DHSS Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) (rather suitable name, dont you think!) carried out the investigation: Diet and Cardiovascular Disease.

It was recommended that our fat comsumption should be reduced from 42% to 30%, (even further for us-with a decrease in saturated fats and an increase in polyunsaturated fats, and dietary fibre should be increased, balancing out the loss of energy caused by cutting down on fats, with fibre-rich carbohydrates such as cereals, wholemeal bread, vegetables and fruit.

Recipe for success

Therefore, for successful weight loss and an improved diet you should not only cut down on obvious fatty foods like butter, margarine, lard, suet and oil but also go easy on food products which are largely made up of fat which is not quite so obvious.

Dairy products, visibly fatty meats, chips, quiches, sausage rolls, nuts, chocolates and savoury snacks are all good examples. Cutting down on fats has been made easier as the market is now packed with low-fat products like spreads, milk, yogurt as well as leaner cuts of meat.

Also, by following the COMA report recommendations on taking in more vegetable fats (in order to increase polyunsaturated fatty acid intake) and then being tempted to nibble fibre-rich foods – youll feel full, as fibre is indigestible and provides no calories you can lose weight without feeling hungry and being tempted to nibble between meals.

Why we DO need fat

As food reserves in cells – the most important role of fat is to provide a fuel supply for the cells. These give a reserve of potential energy to be broken down when needed – for example when your muscles go into action. (remember action girls?)

Providing essential components – fat necessary to the body comes from two sources, from what we eat and what the body itself can make. Fats in the diet also provide the fat-soluble vitamins A.D.E and K. Palatabillity factor – fats make food more pleasant to eat.

They are crucial elements in govering the structure , texture and flavour of food products.
As structural components of cells – fats are necessary for building cell membranes, blood clotting, and for the structure of certain nervous tissues – especially  in the brain.

So as well as being next to impossible, a fat – free diet would be a healthy diet anyway!

Tips to cut down on fat

Instead of frying or using an ordinary frying pan that requires oil.
Try grilling or using a non-stick frying pan – makes excellent non – greasy fried eggs when cooked over a low heat with no added oil.
Instead of roasting meat sitting in the roasting tin. Roast the meat sitting a trivet/grill grid to prevent the meat soaking up the fat in the  juices.
Instead of chips. Have a baked potato.
Instead of butters or margerines: use low fat spreads.
Instead of full fat milk and cheese: switching to skimmed milk and low –  fat cheese.
Instead of fatty meats and mince: Always buy extra lean meats and prime lean mince meat.
Instead of oily salad dressings and sauces: Use reduced fat salad dressings and sauses.