First things first–have you been practicing the habits you’ve learned thus far? Is there one that’s been harder than the others? Don’t give up! If you started strong and then you’ve let things drop off, choose to pick things back up again. Remember what I said the very first week – when followed these habits naturally lead to an improvement in calorie control, nutrient timing, and food selection. A habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” Keep taking the necessary baby steps until you reach that point! That day will come as you continue to put in consistent practice.
And now… we have finally made it to Habit #5! Can you believe it? After today, you will be armed with five habits that have the power to completely change your life and health status.I know we still need to cover the “why” of Habit #4, and that is coming. However, in order to fully understand what I will cover in that post, I wanted to first go over Habit #5.
What is it?
Habit #5 is to eat healthy fats daily. Fats tend to be right up there with carbohydrates when it comes to mixed messages, popular diets, and the media. Fats are “bad”, fats are “good”, avoid this one, eat that one, etc. Next week we will delve deeper into the relationship between carbohydrates and fats, where all the different do’s and don’ts are coming from, and why Habits #4 and #5 are so important. This week, once again, I am going to stick with the what and the how.
How do I get started?
Even more important than how much fat you are consuming, is the balance between what kind of fats you are consuming. And the optimal balance may surprise you. Overall health, performance, and body composition is optimized when your fat intake breaks down as follows:
- 1/3 Saturated Fat
- 1/3 Monounsaturated Fat
- 1/3 Polyunsaturated Fat
The following strategy is a simple way to meet this goal without categorizing every food and crunching numbers during meal time:
- Start by adding some healthy monounsaturated fats into your diet. This includes things like avocado, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamias, pecans, tahini, hazelnuts, olives, and olive oils.
- Next, add some polyunsaturated fats into your diet. This includes things like fish oil, hemp seeds, algae oils, safflower oil, sunflower seeds, peanuts, canola oil, soy nuts, walnuts, flax seeds, flax oil, chia seeds, and brazil nuts.)
- Finally, continue eating vegetables with every meal, other carbohydrates primarily after exercise, and lean proteins.
With those three steps, your fat intake should balance right out. Most of the saturated fat we eat will come from the animal protein sources you eat—eggs, meats, cheeses, other dairy, etc. Focus daily on adding in some foods from steps 1 and 2 above and you’re set!
If most of the items listed above were new to you, pick one monounsaturated fat and one polyunsaturated fat from the list above, and add them in to your meals or snacks today. Experiment with new choices and see what ones you like best. They key is to try to keep that one-third balance between the groups. If one day you swing way over and eat a majority of monounsaturated fats, don’t sweat it. Getting a daily balance is good, but even more important is that you are balanced over time—weekly, monthly, etc. Keep the big perspective in view.
When you get your fats from whole food sources, such as olives, nuts, or seeds, you get some added protein and fiber in there as well. I love pairing snacks like this with my veggie bags. They’re also a great way curb hunger when you’re on the go. I’ll put some nuts in a small Tupperware and stick it in my purse. Flax seeds or hemp seeds go great in yogurt, salads, toast, smoothies, pretty much anything you want to sprinkle them on you could. Have fun experimenting and best of luck!