FAT: THE INSIDE STORY
It’s not just the way you look that suffers when you’re carrying too much fat, it can damage your insides in the long run too. But you can do something about it. Turn over and check out the rest of our Fat Loss Special – all you need to win the battle of the bulge
Eating too many calories of any kind will lead to your body storing fat around your midriff, but nothing turns into blubber as swiftly as saturated and trans fats. Due largely to an overabundance of these fats in a typical British bloke’s diet, 3.7 per cent of UK men are obese.
Too much fat in your diet can leave you at the mercy of atherosclerosis, where your arteries start hardening and thickening due to a build up of saturated fats on their inner walls. This leads not only to heart disease but also to a restriction of blood flow to your extremities, a condition called peripheral vascular disease.
Clogged-up arteries can disrupt any bodily function that depends on a steady flow of blood. One such function is an erection, and as anyone whose member has failed to rise to the occasion knows, this is no laughing matter. The arteries supplying the penis are some of the smallest in the body and may be the first vessels that clog up. Something which can lead to more severe problems.
More than a quarter of a million Britons a year suffer heart attacks, the vast majority occurring in people with coronary artery disease, where fat and cholesterol deposits block arteries that supply blood to the heart.
Research conducted at the University of Toronto has shown that eating too much saturated fat slows you mentally. It inhibits the supply of glucose — needed for cognitive function and memory — to the brain, causing the brain to age prematurely. People whose diets are high in saturated fats are also at higher risk for stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
One indirect effect of too much bad fat is adult onset diabetes, in which either the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t do a good enough job of helping the body handle glucose. Carrying large amounts of body fat has also been linked to insulin resistance, a forerunner of diabetes in those who have a genetic predisposition toward the disease.
A study published in the Journal Archives of Internal Medicine links saturated fats to hypertension, or high blood pressure. Over time, this condition can result in a host of secondary problems, such as retina damage, vision loss, even TIAs — short for Transient Ischeniic Attacks, mini-strokes that come before a big one.
Eat & Drink
DE-JUNK YOUR DIET
For some of us, hell is a place with no cheese and onion Walkers. Over the years, thousands of scientific studies have exposed the dangers of saturated fats, but keeping them out of your diet can be as difficult as getting a pint at half-time. Just recently, a report published in the International Journal of Epidemiology showed that cutting the saturated fat you eat from 15 per cent of your total calories to per cent could reduce the likelihood of your early demise by up to 25 per cent. Although eating less saturated fat might seem like a thankless path, follow these easy tips and you’ll should still be break dancing when you’re 80. All right then… 50.
>Don’t let yourself get too hungry The hungrier we get, the more fat-filled chicken family buckets we tend to eat. So instead of flitting between starving and stuffed, use a scale of ‘fullness’ ranging from o (absolutely ravenous) to so (not even one more wafer-thin mint). Only eat when you drop down to about a 2, then stop when you’re back up to 6 or 7. Also, eating smaller meals more often, up to six meals a day, will help you control your hunger and appetite.
Master the menu
You know where the bad fats are (see the next page if you don’t), so if you don’t want them, don’t order them.
And don’t be afraid to ask the waiter what’s in each dish or ask for a bespoke meal.
Instead of warring with yourself at every meal -“can I really get away with eating that battered sausage?” — plan a weekly cheat meal when you’re free to eat whatever you want, minus guilt.
With this to look forward to, it’ll be easier to beat off temptation during the rest of the week.
Be a label freak
Many blokes wandering round Tesco still look only at the ‘total fat’ figure on labels. But the ‘saturated fat’ figure is more important — the lower the better. You won’t find a figure for trans fats on the label so look for, and avoid, anything with ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil on it’.
Get back on that wagon
Everyone slips up once in a while. If you happen to wake up from a long night and find a rapidly congealing half-eaten kebab staring you in the face, don’t panic. One bad meal won’t gridlock your arteries or transform you into Jim Boyle. Besides, every time you eat offers another chance at redemption. At your next meal, remember how bloated and nasty you felt (not to mention guilty) and get back to your good habits.
Plan your shopping
Most of us go to the supermarket thinking just one thing — I need food, and I need it now. But you’ll make much better choices if you show up with a list of healthy stuff you like to eat and know how to transform into a tasty low-fat meal. Also, make sure you eat roughly an hour before your food-shopping foray — just enough time to quell your appetite and prevent impulse purchases, most of will most likely be packed with fat and sugar. When was the last time you said to yourself, “I’m starving. I think I’ll buy some radishes”?
Take one meal at a time
You don’t have to make every meal in your week pass inspection. When you find a recipe or menu that’s low in bad fats, tastes good and isn’t a monster to prepare, hold on to it, then find another one. You’ll have a full repertoire before you know it.
He shoots, he scores!
Keep yourself focused and motivated by setting yourself just one or two weekly food goals, such as: “I’ll use olive oil instead of butter this week.”
Keep in mind that it’s neither possible nor necessary to cut out bad fats completely. As long as you avoid the CRAP (see right) and make sure bad fats account for a small fraction (less than io per cent) of your total calories, you’re doing fine.
The good, the bad and the unsaturated Mono and polyunsaturated fats are ‘good’ fats. Their virtues include ‘carrying testosterone into your blood and taking cholesterol out of it and you can find them in fish, nuts, avocado and certain oils (especially olive). If you replace any helpings of red meat with fish, and that daily bag of crisps with some peanuts (preferably unsalted), you’ve already made a great stride toward keeping your fat healthy.
Talk to a pro before you head to the golf club, were talking about nutrition consultants here. This might sound a bit pricey just to sort out your snacking problems, but it can be well worth the readies if you’re still succumbing to those tasty pasties. The main thing consultants do for you is help you generate a healthy eating plan that targets you — and your unique body, lifestyle and personality.
Check the oil
All the calories in cooking oil — on average about 120 per tablespoon ¬come from fat, roughly 13.5 grams’ worth, with no protein or carbohydrates. Moderation, however, not elimination, is what you need. There is a place for some oil in your diet, as it is can be a good source of healthy fats and makes you feel fuller and more content after a meal. Choose wisely.
Coconut oil is the deadliest, with 77 per cent of its calories derived from saturated fat. Palm is a close second, at 55 per cent, while olive oil has 13 per cent saturated fat, although it has a higher level of healthy monounsaturated fats than any other oil.
So have a light hand with the oil. And if greasy foods somehow find their way onto your plate, do your best to (subtly, if you have company) blot off some of the excess. A study by the Georgia-Pacific Health Smart Institute in Atlanta showed that you can get rid of up to 17 per cent of a pizza’s saturated fat just by dabbing over the surface of it with an absorbent paper towel.