If you make just one change in order to lose weight, this is it. As it turns out, you are much more what you eat than how much you eat. You’d have to gobble down a humongous apple to equal the calories in that plate of tortilla chips and guacamole dip.
Not only does an ounce of fat have twice as many calories as an ounce of protein or carbohydrate, but fat calories turn into body fat FAST!
In one study, researchers followed a group of 303 women who were not trying to lose weight on a formal diet. About half were given instruction on eating low-fat foods, while the other half cut calories without regard to fat.
In one year, the low-calorie group had decreased fat intake by about 9 grams per day and had lost a pound. The low-fat group, on the other hand, had decreased their fat intake by 45.3 grams per day and had shed 10 pounds.
Another study looked at how people who cut fat but added more food to make up for it still ended up losing weight. Thirteen women were divided into two groups. One group ate 20 to 25 percent of its daily calories from fat, the other 35 to 40 percent.
Over an 11-week period, the lower-fat group gradually increased its daily calories by 35 percent —that is, they ate one and a third times as much food as before — but in low-fat foods. The higher-fat eaters did not increase their calorie intake.
At the end of 11 weeks, the lower-fat group had lost twice as much weight as the higher-fat group, even though they had eaten more calories! “These results demonstrate,” the researchers concluded, “that body weight can be lost merely by reducing the fat content of the diet without the need to voluntarily restrict food intake.”
Safety engineer Dave Dominguez lost nearly 35 pounds over a six-month period simply by cutting down on fat. “I don’t count calories,” he says. “That drives me crazy. But you should see what I eat.”
A hefty casserole of rice mixed with vegetables and topped with a large baked chicken breast is a typical dinner. “Dinner used to be a slab of red meat swimming in grease,” he recalls.
Which brings up another interesting point: Eating fatty food, researchers have discovered, makes you want to eat even more of it.
Most of us eat far too much fat. The average woman eats about 75 grams of fat per day, the average man about 100 grams. We should eat no more than 45 to 55 grams per day, one third of our daily calories.
Here’s a good rule-of-thumb: A 300-calorie meal should contain less than 10 grams of fat, a 400-calorie meal less than 13 grams.