Low Fat Menus: Do You Need to Cut the Fat?
By Julianne Koritz
Do you need fat? What would happen if you excluded all the fat in your diet? Would you lose weight, look better, be healthier? Do you think all
fat is bad for your health? How does that affect your food choices?
During the nutrition revolution, the "quick fix" solution to the number one killer in America (i.e., heart disease) was "cut the fat." Nutritionists rose to the challenge, informing the public that animal fat is the real culprit in causing heart disease.
Fats, Fats, Everywhere!
Think of the different foods that contain fat: oils, margarines, butter, cream, and bacon. Fats are found in almost all foods. Non-animal products such as olives, safflowers, peanuts, and sesame seeds provide oil. Canola oil, vegetable oil, and Crisco are all non-animal products. Do fats help or harm our bodies? What benefits do fats provide?
A Day in the Life of the Average Eater
Fat itself is not bad. It's the amount and type of fat we consume that is a concern. Let's say, in a typical day, you have an egg biscuit and coffee with cream and sugar for breakfast. Lunch is a Caesar salad with grilled chicken and bread with butter. You skip dessert, but at about 5 P.M. you snack on some peanuts. Dinner at 7 P.M. is spaghetti with meat sauce, a huge salad with ranch dressing, and Italian bread with margarine.
You may think you made healthy choices since you had a salad at lunch and dinner. However, salads just don't cut the fat so let's look at the fat content of your meals.
That breakfast biscuit was brushed with butter and topped with an egg cooked with oil. Then there's the cream you put in your coffee. Salad is a good choice for lunch, but the chicken was most likely grilled with an oil-based marinade, and there's at least ¼ cup of dressing on the salad. The butter on your bread also contains fat. Dinner is laden with hidden fats that could be eliminated. The meat sauce, ranch dressing, and margarine all contain fat.
The total fat content of that day's intake was a total of 178 grams of fat. Multiply that times 9 kilocalories /fat gram = 1602 calories from fat alone. A typical adult diet should have about 45 grams of fat for the entire day or around 400 calories. As you can see, this is four times the required amount.
Making Different Choices
What changes can you make to decrease your overall fat intake without jeopardizing nutritional value? Examine your overall food intake in a
What nutrients are missing from this day's intake?
The sample diet above is high in protein and fat. In addition, it is low in vitamin C, calcium, and fiber, several of the 50 important nutrients that you require for optimal health.
Refer back to
lesson 1 of the course
to review the amounts of food necessary for a daily intake that provide nutrients for optimal health.
Cutting out fat does not mean choosing only low fat products that are processed or prepackaged. It means making a choice between fresh food and processed food.
Here is an average amount of nutrients in various food groups to help you determine the amount of protein, carbohydrate (CHO) and fat in different foods:
|Cereal, Pasta||8 oz||4g||30g||0-5g
|Beef, Veal||3 oz||24g||0||15-50g
|Chicken Thighs||3 oz||24g||0||15-50g
|Chicken Breast||3 oz||24g||0||15-50g
|Turkey Breast||3 oz||24g||0||5g
|Rice milk||8 oz||2g||12g||0
|Soy milk||8 oz||6g||12g||3g
As you can see, the protein, carbohydrate and fat contents vary greatly for each food item. Look at the fat content of the different foods in relationship to their nutrients. You need all three, but the question is how much of each?
Calculating Your Requirements
Experts state that the average size adult requires only 2000 calories a day. At least 50% of Americans are consuming well over that. Remember, each pound of fat consumed equals 3500 calories.
To lose a pound, you need to either decrease your energy intake (food calories) or increase your energy output (exercise) by 500 calories a day for a week. In a healthy 2000 calorie a day diet, the percentage of carbs, proteins and fats should break down as follows; 55-60% carb, 15-20% protein and 20-25% fat. When calculated out, that means 300 grams of carbohydrate (1200 calories), 100 grams of protein (400 calories) and 45 grams of fat (405 calories).
Since not all food has labels, it is important to have
an understanding of the different nutrients in foods
as well as their protein, carbohydrate and fat intake.
This Week, Try This
record each day's intake of food. At week's end, review your food journal entries. Determine how many servings of fruits, vegetables, meats, starches you had for one day. Look at your foods and decide if you could have made different choices that would decrease the fat content, but increase or kept the nutritional value.
Low Fat Menus
Here are some alternative low fat menus for meals and snacks:
Toasted English muffin with soft boiled egg and 1 cup of orange juice
Whole grain waffle with low fat yogurt
Granola and low fat yogurt
Fresh fruit smoothie
Whole grain cereal, banana and skim milk
Eat only ½ of a restaurant meal -save the other half for your next meal
Vegetarian wraps or tofu wraps
Vegetable soups and ½ sandwich
Salads with grilled fish and dressing on the side
Fresh Fruits such apples, grapes, and bananas with slices of cheese
Fruit and low-fat yogurt or soymilk smoothies
More low fat menus for snack
Whole wheat pasta with vegetable or marinara sauce
Grilled meats and vegetables
Baked potatoes with stir fry vegetables
Stir-fry tofu and vegetables over rice
Roasted vegetables with couscous
More low fat menus for dinner
While shopping for your healthy meals for the week, remember that not all foods need to come out of a package. Fresh foods are best. Don't get your nutritional knowledge just from food labels. Review
to learn about different types of fat, what you need and what you can live without.
Copyright © 2001 - 2006 Julianne Koritz. All rights reserved. If you are interested in publishing this article, .