Experts used to think that dietary fat – which makes foods like burgers and ice cream and pizza taste flavorful – made people physically fat and sick, but not anymore. The only kind of fat that’s definitively bad for you is trans fat, according to registered dietitian Abby Langer. And the other kinds of fat can be beneficial for general health – and weight management.
Of course you can’t just add healthy fats to a crappy diet and expect to lose weight. But “consuming a wide variety of nutritious foods, including fats, helps create satiety and can help prevent overeating,” explains neuroscientist Darya Rose, PhD, author of Foodist and the blog Summer Tomato. And that can result in sustainable weight loss.
If you want to control your weight and live your healthiest life, you can get over your fat fears and dig into the fat-rich foods:
Although nuts are calorically dense – a serving size is a paltry 18 nuts (lolz) and is about 170 calories – studies show that people who eat more nuts have lower BMIs than people who don’t. While this doesn’t exactly prove that nuts make you skinny, scientists believe eating nuts may increase the number of calories you burn at rest and keep you full for so long that you end up eating fewer calories over all. Another theory: The body can’t digest some of the fat calories found in certain nuts like almonds, explains Langer. And when food calories exit the body intact, they’re excluded from the whole calories-in-versus-calories-out equation that’s often blamed for weight losses and gains.
2. Coconut Oil
Preliminary research shows that simply swallowing coconut oil can increase your energy metabolism and burn up to 120 extra calories per day. If your goal is reduce your overall caloric intake, you’re better off cooking with coconut oil than cutting out fats altogether.
Used in place of conventional butter (which is no longer considered the devil, but still packs quite a few calories per schmear), avocado delivers a worthwhile mix of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins that dietitians are rightfully obsessed with. Research even shows that overweight people who eat half an avocado at lunch feel greater satisfaction up to five hours later.
4. Wild Salmon
Full of omega-3 fats (which are just about the best kind of fats you can eat), this fish tastes good because of its fat content. Fat molecules carry flavor from your plate to your palate, which makes every bite that much more satisfying. And of course salmon is also a solid source of protein, which helps the fish earn an A+ in sustainable energy.
5. Grass-Fed Butter
Grass-fed butter only sounds ~fancy~ but you can find it online and at many grocery stores in a clarified form known as ghee (a certain Kardashian’s favorite). Grass-fed butters contain more omega-3 fats than the conventional stuff, a good thing considering omega-3s appears to expedite weight loss in conjunction with a reduced calorie diet, according to promising research involving omega-3 supplements. Every little bit counts!
6. Grass-Fed Beef
Most experts agree that you can lose weight on a reduced calorie diet regardless of whether you stick to diet foods (hi, kale) or indulge in food you actually crave, like burgers. Grass-fed burgers contains less fat and fewer calories than meat made from conventionally raised cows, and serves up more of the good stuff: omega-3 fats.
7. Egg Yolks
Contrary to popular belief, eggs don’t appear to raise bad cholesterol or trigger heart disease, according to recent research that compared the effects of low- and high-egg diets. Eggs – yolks and all! – actually promote satiety that should (at least in theory) reduce overeating.
8. Hard, Full-Fat Cheeses
Despite the fact that cheese is often demonized for being high in fat and calories, science suggests that full-fat, milk-based foods are undeserving of their rotten reputations. Somestudies even show that people who cut back on calories while increasing their intake of full-fat dairy lose weight more quickly than people who only cut back on calories. Again andagain, large-scale scientific reviews of existing research suggest that people who include high-fat dairy foods in their diets are less likely to be overweight and obese. Research has even found that people who eat upward of five servings a week have less body fat, lower BMIs, and lower blood pressure than people who steer clear of dairy altogether. While more research is needed to understand exactly why, some theories suggest that dairy’s protein boosts satiety and its calcium binds to fatty acids to reduce fat absorption.