As discussed in my new book The Step Up Diet, Many people blame fats for the obesity epidemic. As a result, many people have completely eliminated them from their diets but still fail to lose weight because they fill up on empty calories.

Count the number of “low-fat” and “fat free” products in the snack aisle at the grocery store and you will see that eliminating fat has become a fad. In order to talk about fats accurately, we must define some terms.

Let’s get the facts about FAT straight:

1. Fats are an important component in our bodies. Our nervous system is covered by sheaths of fat.
2. Fats contain vitamins such as D,A,K and E, which are antioxidants and are part of cell membranes.
3. Fat intake should account for 30 percent of our diet.
4. Fats are essential for brain development in children.
5. Not all fats are bad. Fats consist of unsaturated fat and saturated fat or animal fat or vegetable fat.

Unsaturated Fat Vs. Saturated:

Lets define the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats come from animal fats such as meats. Unsaturated fats are present in vegetable sources. To get scientific, unsaturated fats have double bonds in between carbon atoms, making their bond tighter and preventing rotation. Modified vegetable oils or trans-unsaturated fats are created by heating vegetable oils in the presence of metal and hydrogen atoms.

Modified vegetable oils are most common in commercial cooking. Fast-food restaurants use these oils because they can be burned at high-temperatures, are cheaper and easier to work with. Trans-fatty oils not only increase bad cholesterol but decrease good cholesterol!

A home-cooked meal is simply better for us because we use less trans-fatty acids and more natural ingredients, such as olive oil. You should use olive oil exclusively when cooking at home and avoid trans-fats in the oils used in restaurant cooking whenever possible. If you’re eating out, ask what kind of oils are used in the kitchen.

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.