Most people know the difference between good fats and bad fats but do they realize making even small changes in the amounts of the usual culprits high in fat calories can help them lose up to a pound a month with no pain? Everyone thinks that eating a salad for lunch is going to move that scale needle southward. But when you load that salad with nuts, olives, avocado, cheese and dressing, that healthy salad can deliver as many calories as a Big Mac with fries.
Fat Calories Add Up
Fat calories are twice as potent as calories from carbohydrates and protein. There are 9 calories in a gram of fat versus only 4 calories in a gram of carbohydrate and protein. The chart below lists some common foods that people eat regularly that are high in the heart healthy unsaturated fats but calorie dense because they are high in fat. Eaten without attention to portion sizes, these foods can pack a lot of calories. A salad topped with 10 olives, half an avocado, 2 oz of chopped nuts, a few slices of cheese and some dressing can deliver over 1000 calories, or more than the 930 calories in a Big Mac with medium fries. And you salad eaters are thinking, “that salad didn’t even contain one carbohydrate, so it’s got to help me lose weight, right?” Nope.
Salad dressing is the big calorie kicker depending on the choice. Two Tbsp of Caesar salad dressing delivers 165 calories, and that’s if you are measuring. If you are getting your salad from the grocery store and pouring the dressing from those large containers, how do you really know? I know the prepackaged servings of dressings at the deli near me is a 1/4 cup serving or 4 Tbsp. That can be at least 290 calories.
What if you are adding extra “healthy ingredients” like artichokes or some of the other vegetable like the ones in the Whole Food’s salad bar that are swimming in oil; that adds additional calories.
Count Your Fat Culprits
The CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program focused on the total grams of fat in the diet with fat gram goals geared around an individual’s weight. I always thought it was strange that a diabetes program would focus on fat and not carbohydrates, but truthfully it is much simpler to track just fats than total calories. Furthermore, you get more bang for your effort by reducing total grams of fat since they are high in calories. With 3600 calories in a pound, cutting out 15 gms of daily fat will mean a one pound weight loss in about 27 days. That doesn’t seem like much, but that’s 14 pounds in a year and it’s painless with just a little awareness and a few substitutions. Here’s how you can find cut those fat grams in just your lunch salad. Reducing the avocado to one quarter will save 7 gms of fat. Cutting the portion of nuts in half will save you another 7 gms. Using fat-free Feta cheese, which is sharp and still has the consistency of cheese, will save you another 10 gms. Being mindful of salad dressing portion sizes, or better yet making your own by using a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to oil (I like adding lemon juice and herbs to mine) will save you another 7 gms. With just these suggestions you would save 21 gms of fat, 190 calories and a pound in 19 days. That doesn’t even include making other small changes like switching to light mayo, or using mustard or hummus in lieu of mayo on sandwiches, or using fat-free Greek yogurt instead of mayo or sour cream in dips.
Your Culprits Are Calorie Dense
Often times I hear people being frustrated that they are not losing weight despite their best intentions of eating a salad every day. Making these small changes are painless and yield big results. It doesn’t take a radical diet to lose weight. It takes knowing what your culprits are, making small changes that don’t lead to feelings of deprivation, and being mindful of portion sizes. Losing weight gradually is a much healthier and more sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off. That’s the healthy way to a happy weigh!
Barbara writes a biweekly blog to help inform and empower people to live healthy lives. Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word.