Cheese, butter, cream, and bacon.
Avocado, eggs, almonds, and salmon.
While both groups sound delicious, one might sound a little more appealing than the other. After all, cheese, butter, cream, and bacon just make everything taste better. The thing these two categories have in common is that they are all sources of fat, and regardless of whether your dub one category as “good” and one category as “bad”, there is one fundamental similarity...it’s still fat.
REDUCING THE “BAD”
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the first list of ingredients don’t provide much in the way of nutritional value and are very calorically dense. While they can, and should, be enjoyed on occasion, they are typically used in excess and can quickly make a meal very heavy.
Using a little bit of these ingredients in cooking is fine, but it’s rare that recipes call for a pinch of cheese. Usually these ingredients are used in excess to make delicious comfort food like mac and cheese, desserts, and heavy breakfasts, and if you are trying to lose weight or body fat, it can be a huge deterrent. Rather than trying to compromise on these ingredients by using less or buying a slightly healthier option, just use the real deal and enjoy whatever it is how it was meant to be enjoyed. The key is just to limit yourself in how often these things are consumed and not to make it a daily habit.
INCREASING THE “GOOD”
Okay here is where it can get dangerous. You’ve started to sub out some of the “bad” fats for the “good” fats. That’s a great start, and you will definitely be getting more nutrients out of these new foods, but what’s the same? It’s all still fat!!
1 gram of fat is 9 calories, regardless if it comes from a slab of lard or a handful of raw, unsalted walnuts. Of course the walnuts have healthy omega-3 fatty acids and some protein, but fat is still fat, which means it’s high in calories. Let’s put this into perspective with some fan favorites, shall we?
Avocado toast, a beautifully delicious, nutritious, breakfast item that has taken the hearts of many Americans. After all, it’s fat on bread, so it’s hard to go wrong. But how much of an avocado are you putting on your bread? A whole, a half? A whole avocado can easily be 350 calories and upwards of 30 grams of fat. That’s about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
*DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT SAYING DON’T EAT AVOCADOS, THEY’RE DELICIOUS.*
Just a reminder that a whole avocado is very calorically dense and if you’re going to have it, maybe a quarter or a half will do the trick. Also maybe don’t have the same thing everyday, change up your fat sources to provide some variety. Nuts are another great option, but these can get treacherous quickly as well. A measly 24 almonds (that’s maybe 2-3 handfuls), is about 160 calories and 14 grams of fat. If you have a whole bag next to you while you’re watching TV, things can get out of hand quickly.
Remember, avocados, nuts, nut butters, olive oil, full-fat dairy, eggs, and salmon are all fantastic and provide necessary nutrients, and while “healthier” than bacon, they are still a fat source and all the same rules apply. You don’t want to get trapped into a free-for-all mentality since they are dubbed the “good” fats. That will just leave you frustrated and confused why you’re not seeing progress. Always be mindful of what you’re eating, identify it’s primarily a fat, a carb, or a protein source, and don’t be blinded by what is supposed to be “good’ or “bad”.