Fad Diets

Is No Fat Good?

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We blame the fat cells present in our body for all our troubles. But what do the facts say? Is all fat really bad for your health? Is it necessary that we remove it from our diet? Is that even recommended?
Most of us know, from various sources that we need fat as calories to burn up to keep us going. Our activity levels depend on these calories, and the nutrition of the food we eat. So, there is a direct connection between what we eat and how much energy we have. The fat in our body has a number of other functions too. The energy stored in these cells also feeds our brain, to keep it in regular running condition. This energy takes care of our daily metabolic functions like digestion and breathing. It also generates cells called Transport nutrients, whose basic function is to provide the body with the essential nutrients to grow. So a shortage of fat cells in the human body during the age that covers the growth period, could lead to serious disorders. This is what is happening in teen diets, and filling the world with under-nourished, sickly and underdeveloped young people. Not only that, these transport nutrients also keep the hair healthy, protect the inner body from injury and act as an insulator against cold.

Obesity is troublesome only when it is loaded on in very large quantities, in excess of what your body actually needs. If it starts forming the bulk of your food, then other nutrients take a back seat, and that is not good news. Besides, the other problem is that fats may be getting accumulated in the body faster than you are able to burn them. So lack of activity is actually more dangerous than just eating fatty food. You do have a chance of eating tasty, fatty foods (yes, it’s a fact that all that flavor of the pizzas and fries is actually only the taste of fat), provide you can burn the resultant calories.

Another thing is to separate saturated from unsaturated fats. Butter is saturated fats, and usually the culprit in the problems that fats are supposed to cause. On the other hand, olive or mustard oil are unsaturated fat, and not very dangerous. This is because saturated fats are responsible for increasing the level of cholesterol in your blood, and hence are the cause for heart attacks, since they clog the arteries.

The question that arises now is how can one be discerning about one’s diet, so as to not lose out on any nutrition, including that provided by fat? Eating fat free foods may not be the answer; in fact we could be harming our bodies with low fat consumption too.

So what’s good food all about? Salads? There is a greater chance of you growing bunny ears after eating only carrots and greens for years together, than there is, to be healthy only on salads. To begin with, salad dressings contain much higher fat content than a lot of other food. Would you be surprised if you know that the standard two tablespoons of dressing, well, contains 12 grams of fat and 130 calories, and that is equivalent to a six ounce steak and a can of coke! The better alternative would be to have a dressing made with olive oil and vinegar or better still, lemon juice.

For all other foods, follow these simple steps.

• Instead of butter, margarine, cream cheese or unsalted butter, use peanut butter.
• Trim away all visible fat on meats and in any case, try to opt for lean meats only.
• Avoid frying food, the best alternative is steaming, but broiling and baking are also good alternatives.
• Try to fill yourself up with whole grains and fresh fruits, so the unhealthy cravings are less, and your intake itself is reduced, when you are already so full.
• Try to eat less processed foods like macaroni and cheese dinners, or for that matter, any ready dinners.

Remember, not enough is as bad as too much, in the case of body fat. When you have less fat that required, the body goes into starvation mode, slowing down your metabolic systems, leaving you with little energy, chronic fatigue, lack of concentration, and anemia. The shine in the hair and the glow on the skin will be replaced by a thin, pale furry outer skin layer and falling hair. As your appetite goes down, your body loses nutrients like calcium and the inevitable is premature aging of bones, even cracking and osteoporosis. So what is the golden mean? The key to a fit body is nutrition and nutrients and body mass according to your requirement. One must first work on finding about the ideal body composition, according to the age, sex, height and weight. This will be a starting point for determining the course of action to add or reduce fat. The easiest way of doing it is by using the Body Mass Index, (get by dividing your height in meters by your weight in kilograms). You also need to find out your body composition, the amount of fat versus lean tissue in your body. This is a little tricky, because a pound of muscle and a pound of fat do not actually weight the same. In fact, muscle takes up more space, so a pound of fat looks smaller than a pound of muscle. Hence appearances can be deceptive; a person with greater muscle can look fatter than a person with more fat, given equal heights.

Another figure to look out for is the Body Fat percentage – the amount of adipose (fat) tissue in your body as a percentage of total body weight. In fit people, body fat percentage of about 20% in women and 10% in men is usually normal.

Getting all the percentages and calculations in place will, however, be only one part of your stay-healthy program. What we need to realize is that Thin is not always Healthy, or Fattening is not always Taboo. Having said this, the less said about the TWIGGIES of the world, the better!

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