Over the past weekend, as I was cooking dinner with my family at home (and slicing the hell out of my thumb, might I add), I was asked whether or not we should use butter or margarine for a certain dish. Let it be known that, first and foremost, on the weekends I am not nearly as strict with my diet. So… I chose butter. Both of these foods are high in fat, but there are some small differences between the two. Margarine is higher in poly- and mono- unsaturated fats, but can also be higher in trans fat. Butter, on the other hand, is higher in saturated fats. My argument here isn’t, however, which food is better for you…
The point of this blog is to teach people that fat is not your enemy when it comes to what you eat. The real enemies, without too much detail, are simple sugars and excess calories. But, back to the main issue. Fat, while recommended in moderation, is vital to the very basics of human life. First of all, fat is used as the body’s primary fuel source. Not only is fat used during longer bouts of exercise at a lower intensity, but fat is our main fuel source while at rest. Most people spend a much higher amount of time at rest, making fat very important. Fat is also used to protect vital organs and serve as an insulator for the body.
Now, I certainly am not saying that fat should be the major aspect of anyone’s diet. I understand the phobia behind fat, as well. It makes a lot of calories into a small space. For instance, peanut butter packs 100 calories into a single tablespoon, whereas spinach takes 2 1/2 cups to reach 100 calories. Because of that, it is very easy to over-consume foods that are high in fat.
I get it, trust me… Fat is what were trying to get rid of. So why would we include it in our diet??? Well, quite frankly, because it’s important and you can’t survive without it. You don’t need to run from fats, you just need to be smart about it. Anywhere from 20-30% of your total caloric intake should be fats. Try to minimize the amount of fried foods and desserts you eat, and stay away from trans fats.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are two things out there that make your food taste good. One is sugar – simple sugars to be exact. The other is fat. If you want to have food that tastes good, more times than not it is going to contain one of these things. If it has neither, although it’s going to be healthy, it’s also going to taste like cardboard. So, if you have to enter one of these things into the equation in order to satisfy your taste buds, choose fat. Every time. It’s not nearly as damaging as sugar if it is taken in the right manner.