Sunday, January 10, 2010

That's Phat!

Actually, our topic for tonight is fat. Not the "I feel so fat" kind, but the actual substance known as fat, as found in food.

As part of my quest to understand the mysteries of the triglyceride, I've been doing some research into the world of fats.

Some fat is necessary for health. According to Wikipedia, you can't digest vitamins A, D, E, and K without it. Fat aids in brain function, maintains healthy skin and hair, protects the vital organs from injury, helps maintain body temperature, and proper cell function. Fat can also act as a buffer against some types of diseases.

So, see, it's not entirely evil. From personal experience, I know how much it aids in brain health - when I'm really stressed and trying to figure something out, my first inclination is to eat something fattening, and it always helps. It also helps me with mood stabilization. When my grandmother died, I really struggled. She and I were close and I missed her so much. They didn't serve the traditional ham and potatoes at her funeral meal. Instead, they served a buffet of several different types of salad, and while it was nice for a change, I needed a fattening meal to help balance out the intense emotions I was feeling. We stopped and got me a cheeseburger on the way home, and I felt much better afterward. This is probably why fattening food is so addicting - it does help you feel better in certain situations. The term "comfort food" doesn't just apply to food that tastes good, but to food that literally comforts you, which is pretty nearly always high in fat. So, see, there's a logical basis behind why we crave fat when we're upset.

On the other hand, too much fat ... well, we know what too much fat does to a person. In addition to the things it does to our overall body shape, it puts us in danger of heart disease and some types of cancer. Unsaturated fats, though, such as found in avocados, olive oil, and nuts, can help lower cholesterol in your body.

Now here's another interesting thing about fat. If you're looking to cut calories, you'll want to note this. Fat has 9 calories per gram, which is more than twice the calories you'll find in a carb or a protein. Fat, carbs, and proteins are the three sources from which we get energy. So if you're cutting calories but want energy, head toward the carbs and the protein over the fat. You'll get more bang for your calorie.

Ever since I became a mother, I've pretty much been living my life on autopilot. It's pretty normal for a woman's focus to shift from herself onto her children once she has them - it's part of nature's way and Heavenly Father's plan to see to it that the little ones have what they need. But what we forget is that we're His little ones, too, and we still need to take care of ourselves. I don't know about you, but I would never feed my children the way I feed myself. There are days when I forget to eat all day, then I run out to do errands, feel faint, run through a drive-through and get a sandwich, fries, and soda (coming in at 1,040 calories, 36 g. fat, 50 g. cholesterol, and 1,480 mg. sodium) and then don't eat another thing for twenty-four more hours. How many of us would feed our children that way? Of course we wouldn't. That's insane. But I do it to myself all the time.

But times ... they are a changin'. For the last few days, I've been paying a lot more attention to what I eat. I went to the grocery store yesterday and bought a few different types of things, and I'm actually enjoying eating them. Yesterday I made myself a snack of a slice of whole grain bread wrapped around mushrooms and wheat grass sprouts, and I actually enjoyed the different tastes and textures. This afternoon I made myself a salad with lots of cucumbers for moisture and left off the dressing, and found the radishes rather appealing.

But how do I quantify my progress? How do I know when I've done what I needed to do? I can't get another blood test for a little while - it takes time for things to show up in the body, and I'm the type of person who needs to be able to chart what I'm doing and to know if I'm in range.

So I did a little further research. Just how much fat is a person supposed to eat, anyway? What are the parameters involved?

According to, your fat intake should be 20% to 30% of your diet, as much of that in the unsaturated fat category as possible. If you're living a diet of between 1200 and 1500 calories per day, you should be getting between 240 and 450 calories from fat = 26 to 50 grams of fat per day.

That helps me out a lot, to have a target range to shoot for. I know they say you shouldn't try to diet with a long string of numbers, but I need the numbers to help me know where my range should be. After I've seen it, then I can live it a little more intuitively, but I have to be able to see it first.

So, there's the story about fat. It's something we all need, but we don't need as much of it as we often consume.

My goals for this week continue along the same veins, but now with more concrete facts - I'm going to work on getting my fat intake down, increasing the fruits and vegetables, and getting back into the groove with exercise. I'm actually a little excited to weigh in tomorrow - I've been a mostly good girl this weekend and I think it will show.


berlinwritergirl said...

Fun blog. Yesterday was the first day in, well in as long as I can remember and possibly ever, that I avoided all sugary things. I had 3 balanced meals and one snack, but didn't have a piece of birthday cake, or a coke, or the tons of candy that everyone around the house was eating because of the birthday party we were having. I drank a lot of water. That is my goal for this week. No sugar (at least the type from candy, soda, and treats), and lots of water (I have the entire collection of New Moon 32 oz collectors cups to help me with this. I will let you know how it goes at the end of the week. My ultimate goal is to lose 30-35 pounds/and or get to a size 8. Thanks for having a place where I can post this! Good Luck to all!

Marta O. Smith said...

Good info, Tristi. Knowledge is power. If we can just act on what we know, that is.

hi, it's me! melissa c said...

Very informative. I think people often think that fat is the bad guy. It's VITAL. We would die without it. We HAVE to have it. But like everything else, we (as humans) go to extremes.

I think it is one of the purposes to being here. Not only are we supposed to learn how to love, but we are supposed to learn to curb our desires and passions. One of which is food. Especially for me.

Thanks for a great post, Tristi.

Rebecca Talley said...

Great info.

Jeri said...

hey - if you want some good recipes, check out the book "The Formula: A Personalized 40-30-30 Fat-Burning Nutrition Program - by Gene and Joyce Daoust. A friend suggested it to me, and i checked it out at the library to try out the recipes before I went out and bought it myself. It follows the balance of 40% of diet from healthy carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% for fats. When I followed it, I lost weight - but even more I felt GOOD! (don't ask why I stopped - - I don't have a good answer! (I have the book if your library doesn't' have) it and you want to borrow it.