One reason why restaurant foods can taste soooo good is they have a high fat content. Fat—butter, olive oil, beef lard—adds both flavor as well as a nice texture to foods. French fries, chocolate chip cookies, Fettuccine Alfredo‑these all have an appealing taste and texture, thanks to their high fat content.
The trouble is, excess calories of fat can very easily turn into undesired body fat. Yet, you can enjoy an occasional temptation without it becoming a dietary disaster. The trick is to balance the rest of the day’s meals with lower fat and lower calorie choices.
You also might want to first visit the tempting food’s website to learn the nutrition facts. Calorie and fat info might ruin your appetite! For example, did you know…
• A Cinnabon has 880 calories, of which more than a third are from fat (36 grams fat).
• A Big Mac has 540 calories, of which almost half are from fat.
• A Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza has 610 calories, of which 43% are from fat (26 grams fat).
• A Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookie has 210 calories, of which 43% are from fat (10 grams fat).
• One slice of a Cheesecake Factory Original Cheesecake has 710 calories. My guess is more than half the calories are from fat. Their website nutrition information lists fat data as “not available.” Perhaps it is too scary to post!
If you are hankering for high fat food, the smarter choice is to indulge in healthful fats from nuts, peanut butter, salmon, avocado and olive oil. How about peanut butter on a banana?
“What percent of my calories should come from carbohydrates, protein and fat?” my client asked in his efforts to improve his sports diet and his performance. “Should it be 40% carb, 30% protein and 30% fat? Or 65-15-30?” Clearly, he had been reading the popular literature and felt totally confused by the mixed messages.
According to the American Dietetic Association’s Position Stand on Nutrition and Athletic Performance, active people should target a diet with 50 to 65% of calories from carbs, 10 to 35% from protein and 20 to 35% from fat. But the paper goes on to say that percentages are not the best way to calculate a food plan for athletes. Here’s an example why:
• If you are a 150 pound high school soccer player who wants to add muscle and require about 4,000 calories a day to support your traiing and growth, a diet with 10 to 15% of calories from protein would offer 400 to 600 calories of protein or 100 to 150 grams protein. This comes to about 0.65 to 1.0 grams protein per pound. Perfect!
• If you are a light-weight rower who is trying to drop five pounds to make weight and are eating only 1,600 calories a day, 10 to 15% of calories from protein translates into 160 to 240 calories of protein, or 40 to 60 grams protein. (There are 4 calories per gram of protein.). Forty to 60 grams of protein is way too low. Dieting athletes need about 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.5 g pro/kg). The rower who weighs 140 lbs. would need closer to 100 grams protein per day, not 40 to 60.
Instead of fretting about percentages of calories, try this simple concept:
--Choose three different kinds of foods with each meal (such as cereal + milk+ banana or salad + cottage cheese + chick peas)
--Enjoy carbs (fruits, veggies, grains) as the foundation of each meal and protein (meats, dairy, nuts) as the accompaniment.
You'll end up with the right balance of protein and carbs as well as vitamins and minerals.
Recently, I was asked to bring skinfold calipers to a social gathering. Ann (not her real name), a young mother who had succeeeded in losing 50 pounds by diet and exercise, wanted me to measure her body fat. She wanted to lose 10 more pounds, but her mother and other relatives had been making comments she was tooo thin.
The calipers provided unbiased data and Ann was actually shocked to learn she was a very lean 16% body fat. Because her physique had always been on the heavier side, she still saw herself as being bigger than she was. She ascribed to the belief Ill always be too fat, and never be too thin. Not the case. She now was thin-enough and had no need to be thinner-yet.
Body fat measurements can be a helpful tool to give dieters the data they need so they know when to stop dieting. Ann could now believe her weight was indeed low and she could focus more on building muscle than on losing fat.
I encouraged Ann to allow her body a 5 pound weight range, to account for muscular growth. I offered to do repeated body fat measurements, to help her through the after-the-diet stage when the scale goes up as muscles get rebuilt.
If you, too, have lost a lot of weight, you might want to seek a sport dietitian who can measure your body fat, to give you data regarding a good weight for your body. The referral network at www.SCANdpg.org can help you find a local sports dietitian.