How to Lower the Fat in Your Diet

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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:

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Read the Nutrition Facts label 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:

Dairy:
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

Meat, poultry:
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

Fried foods:
High:
Fried chicken
French fries

Packaged foods:
High:
Frozen dinners (many)
Boxed dinners (many)
Dressings and condiments
Baked goods/desserts
Cookies, crackers, chips
Low:
Canned beans, fruits, vegetables
Rice, pasta, barley, oats

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