For many years, the popular notion about fat was that it was all bad. In the 1980’s, during the heart of the ‘avoid fat at all costs’ era, the catch cry that fat makes you fat gave rise to a huge industry based around supplying ‘fat free’ foods.
What they didn’t tell us was that the fat was simply replaced with a massive boost in sugar. As a consequence people actually got fatter. So much for the good old days!
Hopefully we’ve all become a little smarter about weight loss and how to have a flat stomach since then. We now know that there are such things as good fats and that simply replacing fat with simple, processed carbs is not the way to go. Good fats will provide you with energy, promote inner health and, believe it or not, promote fat loss.
Saturated vs unsaturated fats
Jus like carbohydrates, there are two major categories of fats, one good and one bad. Saturated fats are solid, or semi-solid, at room temperature. They stick in the blood and tends to clog up the arteries and other bodily organs. This causes a rise
in blood cholesterol. Typical saturated fats are butter, cheese, egg yolk, animal fats and tropical oils.
Unsaturated fats – the good fats – primarily derive from plant and vegetables. Most unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. We can divide them into two categories according to their molecular structure – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Both types have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Essential fatty acids
There are certain fatty acids that your body requires but that it cannot manufacture. These are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) and they must be sourced from the foods you eat. The two most important EFA’s are Omega-3 and Omega-6. Most people have no problem getting enough Omega-6; it is contained in meats and refined grains. What we need is more Omega-3. The health benefits of Omega-3 include joint health, energy enhancement, vitamin absorption, muscle growth, metabolic increase and, yes, fat burning. To get more Omega-3 in your diet, eat fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring or mackerel two to three times per week. You may also consider a fatty acid supplement such as fish oil or flax oil.
Fats to avoid
Trans fatty acids are used by food companies to chemically alter fats to enhance their flavor and look. They are rife in fried foods, baked goods, margarines and hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenation is a process that manufacturers use to prolong the shelf life of food products. Trans fatty acids and hydrogenated foods are like poison to the body. They are a direct contributor to heart disease and elevate the level of bad cholesterol in the body. If you are serious about how to have a flat stomach and to stay healthy they should be avoided like the plague.
How much fat
Fat – the good kind – should make up about 20% of your total daily caloric intake. It should come primarily from fatty fish, nuts and seeds, avocados and olives, flax seed and fish oil. So, a 200 pound man should be consuming 40 grams of fat per day. If he is eating 6 smaller meals per day, that will equate to a fat consumption of between 6-7 grams of fat per meal.