Today’s discussion is closely related to yesterday’s post on empty calorie carbs. But there are a couple of important peculiarities about the health impacts of these fatty treats…
What’s so bad about empty calorie fats?
Just like empty calorie carbs, empty calorie fats give your body plenty of fuel, but no nutrients to repair the damages from burning this fuel. In the long run, this causes serious damage to the body – much like an engine that is run without oil changes and other maintenance.
There’s one type of empty calorie fat that is especially hazardous: trans fats. These fats are mostly found in margarine, shortening and vegetable oil – and any food that contains (or is fried in) these ingredients.
Luckily, the authorities are acting to outlaw this dangerous ingredient, but it’s worth checking the labels of fatty foods just to be sure.
After trans fats, saturated fat is the most problematic. Food labels also state the amount of saturated fat in any food, so this information is readily available to you.
Most sources put the safe limit of saturated fat at or slightly below 20 g per day. Go beyond that, and you will increase your risk of heart disease. Cancer is also associated with diets high in saturated fats.
Other fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) are generally quite good for you and can represent 30-40% of your calorie intake without problems.
Some examples of empty calorie fats
Any food where the label lists plenty of fat (especially saturated fat) and virtually no nutrients fall in this category. Here are some examples:
- Cake and icing
- Cream and ice cream
- Biscuits and crackers
- Arguably also milk chocolate and bacon
Much like empty calorie carbs, the big problem is that these foods are truly delicious. Therefore, we’ll spend some time later in this chapter to build our defenses against these carefully engineered addictions.
But don’t worry, there won’t be any expectations to never eat any delicious treat ever again 🙂 Like most things in life, we just need a healthy balance.