A low saturated fat diet is a healthy choice when it comes to choosing from the variety of diet plans available. Physicians and dietitians alike agree that while you can and will lose weight on a low saturated fat diet, it is predominately about healthy eating. Here are a few key tips to jump-start your low saturated fat diet today:
Tip #1: Don’t Give Up All Fats
Fats actually serve very clear roles in our bodies, and they are not all bad. We need fat to provide warmth, protect vulnerable organs, store needed energy, and disseminate crucial vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. Since all fats (both good and bad) contain calories, it’s important to consume a majority of the healthy fats while limiting the unhealthy fats. Healthy fats include:
- unsaturated fats
- monounsaturated fats
- polyunsaturated fats
These healthy unsaturated forms of fat can be found in oily fishes, vegetable oils, and nuts. Make a concerted effort to add these healthier fat choices to your diet–they also provide the essential Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids that our bodies cannot synthesize for themselves.
Tip #2: Lower Your Saturated (unhealthy) Fats
The US Department of Agriculture and Health recommends that the average person consume between 25 – 30% of their total daily calories as fats. Of that total, less than 7% should be saturated fats and cholesterol consumption should be below 200 mg/day. If you are trying to lose weight, your percentages of total fats and especially saturated fats need to be lower. Saturated fats are found in:
- fatty red meats
- processed meats
- full-fat dairy products
- butter and cream
Also, avoid trans fats that are found in processed foods.
Tip #3: Increase Your Low Fat Food Choices
Instead of obsessing on what can’t eat anymore, look for new, low saturated fat foods that you can get excited about and add them to your diet. It’s important to realize all fats, good or bad, have calories. So overdoing even good/healthy fats will still lead to weight gain. That’s why it’s important to concentrate on increasing the low fat foods (high in vitamins and minerals) that make up the rest of your diet. Some of those foods include:
- whole grains
- nuts and seeds.
Tip #4: Practice Conscious Portion Control
Once you’re comfortable with the amounts and kinds of good and bad fats you need in your diet, it’s important to practice conscious portion control at meal time. Eating a low saturated fat diet also means not overeating. Select reasonable, single-serving portions of foods that contain fats. Then add in larger portions of low fat foods like nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. By considering healthy snacks ahead of time, you’ll prevent coming to meal time ravenously hungry and more inclined to overeat.
Tip #5: Make Substitutions
Whether you’re eating out or cooking at home, try healthy low fat substitutions for your favorite ingredients instead of just giving up your favorite dishes. Choose leaner cuts of meat and more fresh fish and poultry. At restaurants look for low fat dishes and substitute vegetables for starchy foods. Ask for sauces on the side and dip instead of drenching. Become a label reader when grocery shopping so you stay on target with the calories and fat your cooking with, and substitute lower fat choices in your regular recipes.
Tip #6: Include Exercise
Most successful diet plans include some form of exercise. To lose weight you need to burn more fat and calories then you are taking into your body. The quickest way to do that is to add some fun activities (biking, hiking, roller skating, jumping on a trampoline) to your weekly schedule. The increase in physical exercise will call on your body’s existing fat stores for energy and help you burn them up. By lowering your daily intake of saturated fats while adding exercise to your diet, you speed up the weight loss process.