Decrease Fat to Decrease Calories

Whether you are trying to reduce your risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol or lose weight, decreasing dietary fat is often recommended.   If you are trying to improve or maintain heart health, the type of fat you are eating is often as important as the amount of fat you are eating.  (See my post titled “Not all Fats are Created Equal” for more information about the different types of fats and recommended fat levels.)  If you are trying to lose weight, decreasing the total amount of fat in the diet can be very helpful because it often leads to lower calorie intakes.

Every gram of fat has 9 calories.  Compare that to protein and carbohydrate, which only have 4 calories per gram.  This means that fat has over twice as many calories for the same amount of food.  Most people eat the same amount (or volume) of food from day to day, not the same calorie level.  Therefore, by reducing the amount of fat in your diet, you can often decrease your calories without cutting back on portions or feeling hungry.  The following are some ways to lower your fat intake:

Food Group Instead of this: Try this:
Dairy Whole milk and full-fat yogurt and cheeses Skim or 1% Milk, Non-fat Yogurt, Fat-free or 1% Cottage Cheese.   Cheeses that have less than 3 grams fat per serving.
Meats Breakfast meats: Bacon, sausage

Lunch meats: Bologna or Salami

Hot Dogs

Poultry: Dark Meat with Skin

Whole Eggs

Meats Cuts: Rib, Chuck, Brisket

Breakfast Meats: Canadian Bacon, Ham

Lunch meats: Chicken, Turkey, Ham or Roast Beef

Low-fat Hot Dog

Poultry: White meat without skin

Egg Whites or Egg Substitute

Meats Cuts: look for the word “Round” or “Loin”

Baked Goods Pastries, Cookies, Cakes, Croissants English Muffins, Bread, Hard Rolls.  Reduced-fat Cookies and Cakes (compare calorie levels to make sure sugar isn’t added).
Sauces/ Dressings Alfredo, Pesto, Cheese

Full-fat Salad Dressing

Marinara, Primavera

Low-fat Salad Dressing or Vinegar

Added Fats Butter, Margarine, Mayo, “Special Sauces” Mustard, Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, Marinara Sauce.  Non-stick cooking spray.  Reduced-fat mayo and margarines such as smart balance and take control light are also better alternatives.
Sides Fried rice

Cream Soups

Sautéed vegetables

French Fries

Steamed Rice

Broth-based Soups

Steamed or lightly sautéed Vegetables

Baked Potato or Side Salad

By making some of these substitutions you will be off to a good start with lowering fat and calories and improving heart health.