3 Fat-Rich Foods That Can Help You Lose Weight
By JULIE UPTON
If you're trying to lose weight, of course calories count. But that doesn't mean that all high-fat, high-calorie foods need to be off-limits. High-fat foods are high in calories because fat provides 9 calories per gram (compared to the 4 calories per gram both protein and carbohydrates contain). Recent research has shown that some fat-rich foods help keep your hunger and appetite in check, and that they are more likely to be burned as fuel rather than stored as body fat.
Recent studies show that fat-and calorie-rich foods such as nuts, avocados and olive oil have weight loss advantages. Here's the skinny on each of them:
The Research: Many people cut out snacking on nuts because nuts are high in calories, however research shows that nut-eaters are — on average — are thinner and have less belly fat compared to those who don’t regularly eat nuts. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition reported that women who ate nuts at least twice per week were one-third less likely to be obese, compared to women who ate nuts less frequently or not at all. Another study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal PLOS One evaluated risk for obesity and nut consumption among 803 adults. The results showed that adults who ate the most tree nuts and peanuts had lower BMI values and waist circumference measurements, compared to those eating the least amount of nuts and tree nuts.
The Lean Factor: Nuts may provide more satiety compared to carbohydrate-rich snack options, like pretzels or crackers. In addition, research shows that nuts help keep blood sugar levels stable, which calms cravings. More studies have found that not all of the calories present in nuts are actually absorbed by the body. Still, at 160-170 calories per ounce, it's best to be mindful of your portion sizes when it comes to nuts.
The Research: Avocados are nutritional all-stars that provide nearly 20 different vitamins and minerals. In addition, new research suggests that they may also help you manage your waistline. A 2013 study published in Nutrition Journal found that those who reported eating avocados were leaner and had smaller waistlines compared to those who didn't eat avocados. In addition, another study published the same year in Nutrition Journal reported that moderately obese individuals who enjoyed half an avocado (an additional 112 calories) as part of their lunch meal, were 26 percent more satisfied and reduced their desire to eat by 40 percent, compared to those who ate an avocado-free lunch.
The Lean Factor: Avocados are rich in unsaturated fats that can help keep you feeling fuller longer and helps keep blood sugar levels in check. They're also rich in antioxidants that may play a role in maintaining blood sugar and insulin levels. A one-ounce serving (about one-fifth of a medium avocado) has 50 calories, making avocados an easy option to fit into a calorie-reduced diet.
3. Olive Oil
The Research: A recent population-based study conducted in Spain and published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who ate olive oil — as opposed to sunflower oil — were 38 percent less likely to be obese. A recent study conducted at the University of Vienna, compared the effects of four different fats (olive oil, rapeseed oil, lard and butter) on satiety. The subjects in the study were given yogurt enriched with one of the four fats to eat every day, as part of their normal diet. When olive oil-infused yogurt was consumed, blood levels of the satiety hormone serotonin were highest and the subjects reported the yogurt filling.
The Lean Factor: Aromatic compounds in the olive oil contribute to feelings of fullness. When choosing an olive oil, look for an Italian olive oil as they've been reported to contain more of these beneficial aromatics, compared to olive oil from Spain, Greece or Australia. Stick with extra-virgin olive oil for the most health benefits.
Readers - Have you been eating fat-rich foods - particularly any of the three mentioned above in this piece? Or are you someone who has been avoiding foods that contain fat? If you eat them, what are your favorite ways of enjoying these fat-rich foods that are good for you? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. She is co-founder of Appetite for Health, a website where she shares what's in her shopping cart, her favorite recipes, her favorite CrossFit WODS, and how she gets back on track after slip-ups. Julie is a nationally-recognized journalist whose articles have appeared in national magazines, major newspapers and e-media including Prevention, Shape, Health, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times USA Today, Men's Journal and the Huffington Post. She is a frequent guest on national and local television and radio stations. She has been interviewed on the NBC Today Show, CBS Evening News and ABC World News Tonight.