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Fat and Happy

Here’s the skinny on fats! Fat does not make you fat. In fact, you need to eat fat in order to lose fat. Taking in the proper amount of healthy fats is necessary to achieve proper body composition, whole-body health and long term weight control and management. They provide essential fatty acids, keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel. Good fats are good for you, the key is understanding the difference between “good fats” and “bad fats”.


Trans fats occur naturally in some animal products, but they're most often produced during a process used to make unsaturated fats easier to cook with. They are most often found in processed foods (any food that is not in its natural state). Trans fats are "bad" fats that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, raise unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels, lower healthy HDL cholesterol levels, and they are a dieter's enemy.

Avoid foods that have been cooked in partially hydrogenated oils. When reading food labels if it says “partially hydrogenated”- do not buy it! Another buzz word is “enriched” (that’s a fancy way of saying modified)- just say no! Trans fats are found in margarines, shortenings, crackers, packaged snack foods, fried foods and commercial baked goods. Be careful- it may say 0g of trans fats on the nutrition label so make sure to check the ingredient list!

SATURATED FATS- EAT SPARINGLY (less than 10% of your total calories)

Saturated fats come mainly from animal products. These unhealthy fats can raise total cholesterol and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Foods high in saturated fats include high-fat cheese, meat, butter, cream, eggs and whole milk. “Good” saturated fats would be real butter, grass-fed meats, cage-free eggs and virgin coconut oil.

UNSATURATED FATS- GOOD!!!! (20-35% of your total daily calories)

Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Both mono- and polyunsaturated fats, when eaten in moderation (and used to replace saturated or trans fats), can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. They also help control blood sugar levels and appetite (both of these contribute to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight).

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats can be found in fish, most vegetable oils, nuts, nut butters, flaxseed and seeds. These fats can improve cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Eating polyunsaturated fats will also keep you feeling fuller longer.

Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat. These are popular because of their potential heart-health benefits as well as all the other benefits from polyunsaturated fats in general. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish (salmon, trout, catfish, mackerel), as well as flaxseed and walnuts. Fish contains the most effective, "long-chain" type of omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends eating 2 servings of fatty fish each week.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats are diet-friendly and heart-healthy fats found in foods such as olive oil, peanut butter, nuts and avocados. They are also thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but solidify if refrigerated.

Let’s look at this label for Almond Butter. It would fall into the “good” category.


To summarize, most nutrition experts recommend getting at least 20-35% of your daily calories from fat. Be vigilant about making sure the fats you include are coming from unsaturated fats- nutritious whole foods (avocados, nuts, fish), healthy oils, and some saturated-fat indulgences (real butter, cream, meats, coconut).


If you have any questions please contact Colleen at or stop by The Wellness Center at The Fitness Loft.

Colleen Proctor has a degree in Exercise Science from The Ohio State University. She has her Performance Enhancement Specialist Certification from The National Academy of Sports Medicine, Pilates Reformer certification from Balanced Body, and specialized training and certifications in group fitness. 


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