Happy Palm Sunday/Passover Everyone!
We are now ending a season, as far as “Christians” are concerned, that is called Lent. And most people know that for the last 40 days (since Ash Wednesday), those who believe that Christ is the Savior, usually choose to give up something to help connect with the suffering Jesus endured before He was crucified. Many times it is chocolate or alcohol or some other indulgence that one normally would have on a daily/weekly basis.
So in the spirit (notice the lower-case “s”) of the Season (notice the upper-case “S”), if you are trying to lose weight and are having trouble doing so, I would like you to consider giving up something you usually consider “good” for you. It doesn’t have to be for 40 days, but doing so for an extended period of time may help you reach your fitness goals faster.
Well all hear that foods like nuts (especially almonds), avocados, olive and canola oils, as well as certain types of “fatty” fish, like salmon is an “ok” part of one’s daily diet because they are the “good fats”.
However, while it’s true that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are “good” for several health reasons, including lowering blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease the risk of heart disease, each still contains nine calories per gram. And as you all should know by now, protein and carbohydrates each have only four calories per gram. Do the math! That means that if you chose to eat a “fatty” food (i.e. salmon filet) over a “cleaner” option (i.e. ahi tuna steak), barring the difference in the preparation, you will be consuming more than twice the number of fat calories for the same size portion. And, if you are trying to lose weight, that can be a problem.
So, what do I suggest? What do you think? Well, let’s find other ways in which one can reduce the risk of heart disease other than filling up on the “good” fat.
First and foremost, if you are still a smoker or tobacco user (which I know most of you are not), stop immediately. Believe it or not, smoking or using tobacco the most significant risk factor for developing heart disease (not to mention all sorts of other obvious problems).
Next, exercise between 30 to 60 minutes more than three times a week. Come on, you guys know this, physical activity (including walking the dog, gardening and taking the stairs instead of the elevator) reduces your chances of developing heart disease. In fact, it also lowers the risk for developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Third, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables (including beans), whole grains and low-fat dairy products not only reduces the above mentioned health risks, but their low caloric content and dense nature (fiber) can help speed up the body’s metabolism – which increase the weight loss process, and satiety – which may prevent one from overeating.
Last, and certainly not least…lose weight! Especially if you are defined as obese, which means having a Body Fat percentage of more than 25% (male) or 30% (female) or if your BMI is more than 30% (no matter your gender), getting your weight under control will go a long way in reducing your risk of heart disease and all sorts of other illnesses. But choosing foods that are high in fat calories/percentages, just because they are considered “good” for your health, may not be “good” for your weight loss program.
I believe that for anyone who is trying to lose weight, no more than 20% of their calories should be coming from fat. So there is still enough room in everyone’s diet for some amount of those mono and polyunsaturated treats. But be sure not to stretch it beyond the limit, or your waistband will continue to be too.
So remember, if you’re trying to lose weight and are concerned about your heart health, the best thing to do is exercise regularly and regularly limit your fat intake – even if it may be “good” for you.