There is some evidence that diets higher in fat do tend to promote weight gain. In general, research has shown that diets higher in fat, rather than carbohydrate, tend to be fattening. The tendency of dietary fat to promote weight gain can be largely explained by the high calorie density of fat. One gram of fat is nine calories, as opposed to only four for protein and carbohydrate.
Here are six ways to lower the fat in your diet:
- Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products. See our list on the right. You should use reduced-fat cheese in place of regular cheese and use it sparingly.
- Use lean protein foods. These include white poultry without skin such as turkey breast and chicken breast, beans, seafood and smaller portions of lean beef and pork. Choosing the right items is a big plus, but you also have to be aware of portion sizes. The general rule is 3 ounces, which is the size of a deck of cards.
- Use refined fats and oils sparingly. Putting oils into a bottle with a small opening is a good idea because you will “sprinkle out” less oil than you will pour. You can do this for cooking oil as well as salad oil. Sprays also work quite well. When buying margarine, choose brands that are light and in a tub. And always choose low-fat versions of dressings, mayonnaise and condiments.
- Use low-fat cooking methods such as baking, poaching, steaming or grilling. Avoid recipes that call for panfrying. Keep this in mind when ordering food out.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. By consuming at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, you will displace higher-fat and higher-calorie items from your diet. You will also be eating more fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals.
- Read the Nutrition Facts labels on foods that you purchase regularly. Choose packaged foods with little added fat. Desserts, chips, crackers, soups and frozen foods can all be high in fat.
Be Aware of High- and Low-Fat Choices:
- High: Whole milk Sour cream Cream, Ice cream Cheese Butter
- Low: Skim milk Fat-free sour cream Fat-free half and half Fat-free yogurt Low-fat ice cream
- High: Sausage and bologna Fatty beef and pork cuts Dark poultry with skin
- Low: White poultry without skin Extra lean ground beef (95%) Loin and leg beef/pork cuts
- High: Fried chicken French fries
- High: Frozen dinners (many), boxed dinners (many), dressings and condiments, baked goods/desserts, cookies, crackers, chips
- Low: Canned beans, fruits, vegetable, rice, pasta, barley, oats
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.