Beginners Guide to Low Fat Cooking

Choosing to reduce your fat intake is an excellent step in creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself. The diet of the average person contains much higher levels of fat than necessary. As a nutritionist, I typically recommend that the diet be made up of no more than 30% dietary fat. Reducing intake of dietary fat is an easy way to cut calories and lose weight.
To begin I would like to discuss the role of dietary fat in our bodies. Dietary fat is important for fueling aerobic exercise. It is necessary for transporting fat-soluble vitamins, functioning of cell membranes, skin and hormones. Consuming high amounts of saturated and trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease, which consuming mono and polyunsaturated fats decreases the risk of heart disease.
High fat foods tend to be quite calorie dense. This is because fat contains nine calories per gram, which carbohydrates and protein contain only four calories per gram. This demonstrates why reducing fat intake is an easy way to cut calories.
If you are just beginning to think about low fat cooking, start by analyzing your current fat intake. Determine how many grams of fat you consume each day, and decide how many grams you would like to reduce this by. You can then decide approximately how many grams of fat you would like to have in each meal. For example, if you determine that you are eating around 80 grams of fat a day, you might decide to reduce this to 55 grams per day. If you eat five times a day you can aim to have three meals with 12 grams of fat and two snacks a day with nine grams of fat.
Let’s start with breakfast. Fats in breakfast may come from breakfast meats, eggs, and butter on toast. A simple step is to switch to egg whites instead of regular eggs. Egg whites taste like regular eggs, and can be made in to tasty vegetable omelets. Remember to cook omelets in non-stick cooking spray instead of oil. For breakfast meats, both bacon and sausage come in lower fat turkey varieties, though some people dislike the taste. On toast you can simply use a small portion of butter or margarine. Even better, use a small portion of natural peanut butter, which contains the healthy, unsaturated fats.
For lunch, if you are having a sandwich, skip the mayo and stick to mustard. Use lean sliced meats and low fat cheese. When eating salad stick to reduced fat dressings and limit the amount of cheese if you are having a chef salad.
A common pitfall of dinner is cooking in too much oil. Cooking food with non-stick cooking spray or only a tablespoon of olive oil will greatly cut down fat intake at dinner. Buy lean meats, and trim off excess fat. Often people worry that without the fat meat won’t have any flavor. Don’t worry. There is no end to spice and herb combinations you can use on your meat. My favorite is Old Bay with garlic powder.
If you crave dessert, try fruit. A warm cup of applesauce with cinnamon mixed in can be a satisfying dessert. If fruit is not a satisfying dessert for you, try a small portion of frozen yogurt.
Snacks of fruits, veggies, fat free or low fat yogurt, and whole grain crackers will keep fat intake in check. If you are a fan of dip on your veggies, try some hummus. If you choose to eat snack bars or granola for snacks read the label before buying, as some contain high amounts of fat.
If you find these recommendations overwhelming and feel like you will never be able to successfully eat a low fat diet, stop and take a deep breath. There is no need of making drastic changes all at once. Start with one thing you would like to change in your diet. Next week, take a look at something else you would like to change. Most importantly, don’t be hard on yourself when you indulge in a food you know you shouldn’t. Even health nuts indulge from time to time. Each step you make toward a healthier you is a reason to pat yourself on the back.

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