Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Easy Ways to Lower Fat in your Diet

Easy Ways to Lower Fat in your Diet
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Most doctors, nutritionists and fitness experts agree that lowering your intake of fats and oils can go a long way towards achieving a healthier weight and lowering your risk of heart disease and other annoying body complications. For those with a sedentary lifestyle, taking in too many calories can be detrimental. And fats (and oils) contain way more calories than carbohydrates or protein.

I look at it like this; When I eat too much fat, I get too fat. And this prevents me from performing vital tasks like running for more than 100 feet without losing my lunch (as in the case of a zombie outbreak or escaping from a flash mob at the mall). My graceful David-Hasselhoff-run on the beach becomes more like a sweaty scene from Biggest Loser, and it now takes three YMCA employees to hoist my rotund behind up the rock climbing wall as children look on in dismay.

If you don’t share my concerns, maybe you can agree with the fact that there are virtually no old people over the age of 70 that are fat. Have you noticed that? Really old people are all skinny.  Being a Florida resident, you can trust my observation.

The choice is yours. You can go out like Elvis with a peanut butter and bacon sandwich, or you can tweak your diet and live a longer, albeit less glamorous, life.

Cutting fat out of your diet does not mean checking your happiness at the door and conceding to an insipid life of celery sticks, yoga and canned tuna. You can still enjoy most of the foods you eat by making low fat substitutions. Let me show you a few tricks to cut the fat and keep the taste.

Oils and Fats. Yes, many oils are “healthy” for you. But we’re talking about pure mathematics here - too many calories. A little bit of oil goes a long way. Oils, cheeses and fats are very high in calories. Even a little tablespoon of olive oil packs a whopping 120 calories (that’s the same as two slices of white bread). So the first and most effective thing you can do if you’re packing too much fat, is to stop eating it. Just stop using oils.

Instead of frying with oils, butter or fat, just use a non-stick pan. For mashed potatoes, just add skim milk, garlic and herbs. For salads just use herbs, garlic, sea salt, pepper and red wine vinegar. Steamed rice goes great with a little soy sauce instead of butter. You can thicken sauces with corn starch and water (called a “slurry”) instead of oil and flour. And instead of mayonnaise in your sandwich, use Dijon mustard, or ketchup. And keep the cheese to a minimum.

Meats. We all love a nice fatty steak, pork chop, meat sauce, chili, fajitas, sausages, etc. But the next time you grill, use a lean beef tenderloin steak. Use pork tenderloin instead of pork chops on the grill, or season it with soy sauce, cumin and fresh pepper for low-fat fajitas. Grilled chicken breasts are fat-free and juicy if you don’t overcook them. Fat-free hot dogs still taste great. And I use lean ground turkey in most recipes that call for ground beef (I add a little bit of egg whites to the mixture for added moisture in the case of burgers or meatloaf).

Fish and Seafood. You can make tasty, gourmet dishes using white fish, fresh tuna, shrimp, scallop, and clams. Sushi (if not eaten with mayonnaise-based sauces) is actually a really low-fat and tasty food that you can enjoy often.

Starches and Pastas. I’m sure the low-carb junkies are squirming. Don’t worry, pasta is actually very low in fat, and has way less calories than oils or fats. If you skip the fatty ground beef, cream sauces (made with cream, butter and oil) and skip the olive oil in the tomato sauce, pasta can be enjoyed daily. And if you’re still worried, you can use low-carb and whole wheat pastas to combine the benefits of low-carb and low-fat eating. Whole wheat breads are also good to eat.

Potatoes, sweet potato, and all types of rice are also virtually free of fats.

Basically,  if you are carrying with you a supply of body fat, you don’t need to eat any more of it. Let your body use the fat it already has. And if you use the tips and ideas above, you can still enjoy your meals.

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