Why I Eat a Low-Fat Diet
Yeah, yeah, I know…”diet” is a 4-letter word. And “low-fat” is like a dagger in your soul. Just bear with me here. The word “diet” is simply referring to the way you eat. It’s not the word’s fault you associate it with restriction and unhappiness. It’s your nutrition and nothing more. You could eat a “diet” of Doritos and full-sugar Dr. Pepper (brings back memories of my childhood!). Just the same as you can eat a “diet” of lean meats and veggies. You’d just experience very different body compositions and overall health from one “diet” to the next.
Now let’s tackle the “low-fat’ part. Fat is a necessary macronutrient that plays a vital role in biomechanics and how your body functions. So, before we interpret “low fat” as “no fat,” let’s be perfectly clear: Fat. Is. Necessary. Your body NEEDS it. Like, to survive and shit. Read more on the importance of dietary fat and the role it plays in the body here.
I’m sure you’ve heard of “good” fats. Fats from nuts, avocado, olive oil, salmon, etc. are considered “good.” The bitch of it is, “good” fats contain the SAME number of calories per gram as the less desirable, less nutrient dense fats. The good fats are “good” in that they lower bad cholesterol, but there’s gotta be a limit. In this case, you can certainly have too much of a “good” thing – especially when it comes to weight-loss.
Too much of any macronutrient (carbohydrates, fat, or protein) that puts you in a caloric surplus will result in stored body fat. It always comes down to calories, folks. ALWAYS. Don’t let any douchebag on Instagram or the internet tell you otherwise. No matter how washboard their stomach is, and especially if they’re trying to sell you something.
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Every gram of fat contains 9 calories. Whether that fat gram comes from a salmon fillet or a handful of Goldfish crackers, it contains 9 calories. Conversely, each gram of carbohydrate or protein contains only 4 calories – less than half that of a fat gram.
Why do I give a damn about this, and why maybe should you, too? Because this means I can eat double the amount of carbs or protein for the same number of calories.
For example, 113 grams of 4% milk fat cottage cheese has 110 calories, 5g carbs, 5g fat, 12g protein. The same amount of fat-free cottage cheese contains 80 calories, 6g carbs, 0g fat, 12g protein. You might be thinking, well, for only a 30 calorie difference, who cares?
I do! Combine that 30 calories with another 20 calories here, and 50 calories there. It adds up! Allowing for the fun size Snickers bar, can of sour beer, or Girl Scout cookies I’ll be enjoying later. All within my daily calorie goal.
It’s not that fat is the devil or anything. Heavens, no! It’s just that I like to EAT. I like to feel satisfied after a meal or snack. And I achieve this by 1) prioritizing protein, and 2) VOLUME eating.
As a macro-tracker with over a year of experience, I know I can eat a shit-ton of fruits and veggies. I can eat them every day, with every meal and snack, and reach my goals. In fact, this is probably why I reach my goals.
I add low-calorie volume (aka fruits and veggies) to my protein-rich meals. Doing this satisfies my hunger, provides lots of micronutrients, and I stay fuller longer. For the 160 calories in a serving of 15 potato chips, I could eat nearly 5 servings of baby carrots. While also saving myself 10g of fat. I wouldn’t want to eat 5 servings of baby carrots, because that’s a ridiculous number of baby carrots. But you get it, right?
Eating a normal-person amount of baby carrots can save you over 100 calories to eat somewhere/something else. And here’s where I blow your mind… Maybe you ate non-fat instead of full-fat yogurt with breakfast, a snack of veggies instead of crackers with hummus, and light mayo on your lunch sandwich instead of full-fat. Now you’ve made space for those aforementioned potato chips in your calorie budget and on your dinner plate. You can fully enjoy those 15 chips and not be hungry for more. Your stomach is satisfied and full of plenty of nutrient-rich foods. Because let’s be honest – would you really stop at 15 potato chips otherwise? I think not.
With just a few lil swaps here and there, the world is your oyster! Or brownie, candy bar, or chips and salsa. Each seemingly small choice adds up…to whatever you want it to add up to. Maybe it adds up to guac on your burrito bowl. Or a serving of mixed nuts to get in those healthy fats. Sometimes maybe it adds up to a donut or Twinkie, because donuts and Twinkies are the shit. Having those every now and again helps you adhere to your way of eating in the long run. Consistency is key to fitness, after all.
I’m not saying there’s one right diet or way of eating. With my appetite and daily habits, focusing on keeping fat grams low-ish promotes consistency and adherence. I still eat a fat intake between the recommended 20% and 35% of total daily calories. Honestly, my diet isn’t really even “low” fat. It just doesn’t contain the ridiculous amount of fat seen within the typical American diet.
What I’m saying is to be mindful about your nutrition most of the time. So you can enjoy treats some of the time. Being able to eat MORE food for the same amount of calories is all the motivation I need. This helps me reach for nonfat and low fat items at the grocery store. Skim milk, light butter, and fat free cheese allows me to eat a larger volume of food every day. Not to mention, chocolate every night! So that’s exactly what I’m going to buy.
How do you eat? Low fat, High fat, Low carb, High protein? I’d love to know in the comments what works for you! As always, check me out on Instagram to view my daily food diary in my stories and highlights. I eat tacos, pizza, pasta, and burgers weekly, and dessert nightly. I include my daily calorie and macro summaries, as well as the breakdown on each meal and snack.
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