Back in the 1980s, fat was the enemy.
Then Dr. Atkins came along and said that carbs were the enemy. In actuality, fat, carbohydrate, and protein foods are needed for our bodies to function efficiently. No single food group should be eliminated from one’s diet. Let me explain…
Proteins help build and repair tissue.
Fats are used in cellular function. Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, both immediate and stored. When you eliminate an entire nutrient group from your diet, your body will use other sources of food to complete those tasks. It is not efficient, and our goal should be to efficiently function.
Not all foods are created equally.
But that means that some fats are better for you than other fats, not that all fats are better than all carbohydrates. When it comes to protein, you have many different meat-based options. Some are higher in fat than others. This gets sticky when picking the best – are you taking the overall fat of the meal into account? If you choose to have pork or fish, you may need to have less oil than if you used turkey or chicken. The plant-based protein options have grown exponentially over the last 5 years, maybe 10. It used to be that soy was your option, and you may be watching your soy intake for one reason or another. With so many options now, you want to check ingredient lists as not all plant protein products are made with the same things.
Carbohydrates are such a buzz these days with a lot of misinformation.
I remember when I was eating strict paleo and someone asked me how I got all my carbs. Imagine my surprise when I had to inform them that vegetables are carbohydrates. People are vilifying an entire food group, without realizing what that includes. This brings up the term “clean eating” which is highly controversial at times as well. To me, clean means more real foods, less processed. Technically all meat is processed in some way. Deli lunch meat is more processed than a piece of steak. When it comes to grain, you can’t pick wheat and just eat it. You need to hull it and mill it to make it useable as flour. You do not have to make extreme changes to eat cleaner and more healthy.
A rule I like is the simple 5.
Try to buy foods that contain 5 ingredients or less. This works just fine for me, as we do a lot of cooking in this house, making things from scratch often. If you are buying spaghetti sauce at the store, it will be hard to find one with less than 5 ingredients. You have to decide for yourself which is the best option for you.
Not all fat is created equal (according to everyone)
In fact, we need monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats in our daily food intake to help our bodies run effectively. This is why saturated fats got a bad rep. The unsaturated fat in potato chips is not the same saturated fat found in a New York strip steak or coconut oil. An easy way to tell the difference between saturated and unsaturated fat is to stick it in the fridge, or heat it up. If it changes from a solid at cold/room temperature to a liquid at a higher temperature, it is saturated fat.
Consult with a dietician or nutritionist for optimal results.
For different medical reasons, you may be told to watch your saturated fat intake. Of course, you should always listen to medical advice, yet remember a nutritionist has more schooling about food than a doctor. Consider consulting a nutritionist to find the right mix of carbs, fats, and proteins for your body and your goals. *I am not a nutritionist and this is based on my personal experience and opinion.
I think of fats like the other food groups, the less processed and more natural state, the better for you.
It’s up to you to make a choice.
If you know someone who counts macros, calories, or WW points, not all food is equal in terms of nutritional density and in caloric value. If there was one right way to eat, we would all be healthy. Since that is not the case, each person needs to decide what is important to them and what works for their own body/health conditions/health concerns.
An important difference between proteins and carbohydrates from fats is that fats are higher calorically.
A gram of fat contains 7 calories, while a gram of carbohydrate is 4 calories. Protein is the same 4 calories per gram. While we are on the subject of calories, a gram of alcohol is 9 calories. This is one reason many people on a weight loss journey find it best to temporarily abstain from alcohol. You can read other reasons here.
What are some questions you have about foods?
Where do you struggle in picking a lifestyle of eating, or in a “this or that” food situation? Drop your thoughts in the comments, and I can reply there or create a whole post for you! You can also pop over to my contact page and reach out to me directly with any questions you may have.