It’s a little crazy imagining a time when people were misled into believing eating fats were bad for them.
There are definitely good beneficial fats to eat that will help you lose weight and provide a host of health benefits. And there are other types of fat that will do the opposite.
Without having these beneficial fats in your diet you’ll be putting your body at risk. According to the latest research you’ll be more likely to gain weight.
We’ve been trained for decades to avoid fat at all costs. They instead told us we should be eating more carbohydrates and avoid eating fats like the plague.
Turns out the opposite was the truth all along. It’s better to eat fat in moderation than to consume carbs that are going to spike your blood sugar and lead to insulin resistance.
Our ancestors had it right by eating more full fat in their diets. It’s no wonder why there wasn’t near as much obesity and type 2 diabetes in their world.
With this healthy fat foods list you’ll know which types of fat you should be eating for weight loss.
Eating Fat to Lose Weight (Good vs Bad)
It all started post World War II. Some research came out linking saturated fats to heart disease and weight gain. After all, fats contain more calories per gram than any other nutrient.
In the 1960’s the American Heart Association recommended reducing your fat intake. They thought it was better to replace the fats in your diet with more carbohydrates.
This mislead people into thinking eating any kind of carbohydrate was good for them. This lead to an overconsumption and addiction to eating sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Food manufacturers wasted no time jumping all over this trend. They released more high-carb, low-fat food products. Without the fat in the foods, most of the taste was gone. The food manufacturers made this up by adding sugar to the food.
This is precisely why obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease rate have all been on the rise ever since. And they told us to consume other types of fat that was supposedly healthier for us. Vegetable oils and non-butter spreads like margarine became more popular as obesity, heart disease and diabetes continued to rise.
People are finally starting to wise up as they discover that your body thrives off dietary fats. But there are different types of fat that you should know about. Some types of fat will help with weight loss while others will make you pack on the pounds.
How Does Eating High-Fat Help You Lose Weight
There’s no clear-cut evidence proving eating fats leads to obesity. In fact, the opposite is true. This 7-year study of 48,000 women found those on a low-fat diet didn’t result in any weight loss or fewer diseases (1).
They found the group with the highest fat consumption ended up losing the most weight. They also had the lowest cholesterol. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the healthiest fats you can eat. They’re proven to help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, improve insulin resistance, blood sugar levels, and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Monounsaturated fats are the healthiest of the bunch. Their anti-inflammatory powers can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Polyunsaturated fats are also known as essential omega-6 and omega-3 fats. Your body needs these for brain function and cell growth.
Omega-6 fatty acids along with omega-3’s help to lower LDL cholesterol in your body. But eating too many omega-6’s can lead to inflammation and weight gain (2). This is why it’s important to supplement with krill oil. You’ll be able to balance out these polyunsaturated fat ratios.
The bonus with taking krill oil over fish oil is the former is more bioavailable (you absorb more of it). Krill oil also has the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin. There are also some bad fats out there you need to avoid.
Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) are the devil’s work for your body. They used to be a healthier alternative to other fats in your diet. Yet they raise your bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. So much so the American Heart Association recommended completely eliminating them from your diet. Trans fats are one of the worst foods that cause belly fat.
They will increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Not all saturated fats are bad for you. Old research has said to avoid saturated fats as well. The truth is your body needs them to function properly and optimally. Recent research has found saturated fats to be beneficial in moderation as long as you don’t go overboard (3).
List of 18 Good Fats for Weight Loss
Below you’ll find my top 18 favorite beneficial fats to eat to lose weight. Of course, you’re not going to want to eat all of these foods every day, or else the calories will quickly add up.
The big health benefit of eating more of these fats is it’ll help to keep you feeling fuller longer. They’ll also cut down on inflammation in your body. They’ll also help to reduce cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates.
See my post on how to reduce the symptoms of sugar withdrawal too. It’s important to get this fattening food out of your life for good.
Almonds are really the “King Of The Nuts Seeds” and make my healthy fats list. They have less saturated fats than peanut butter with more nutrients. Most people are already eating peanut butter in one form or another. You might want to consider making the switch to almond butter.
Almond butter is high in monounsaturated fats. These help to reduce your risk of heart disease, make you live longer, and better help to control your blood sugar (4). Almond butter has around 25% more monounsaturated fats than peanut butter too. Along with more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Try to find an all-natural peanut butter for the most health benefits. Stay away from Jiffy’s or other big brand labels as they usually contain hydrogenated oils.
People lately have become a lot more open to consuming grass-fed butter as a source of fats. But consuming other animal fats like lard and tallow seem to still be frowned upon for no good reason.
Animal fats like lard and tallow are great to cook with because their saturated fats make them very temperature stable. The problem with using polyunsaturated fat for cooking is it can easily become oxidated from heat damage (5). This greatly increases the reactivity of the molecules which can cause inflammation in your body.
Sure using animal fats can make your food greasier but they also give your foot a big boost in the taste department. Some good sources of animal fat to cook with also include rendered pork, beef, or poultry.
Being from California I absolutely love avocados. I’ve been eating them since I was a kid and a good thing too since they contain a ton of health benefits. They’re Mother Nature’s butter with their rich and creamy texture.
Even though one medium avocado has about 23g of fat it’s in the form of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat contains oleic acid which improves your satiety (6). Meaning you’ll feel fuller longer so you don’t overeat calories. This study found those who ate more avocados ended up weighing less and had lost belly fat (7).
Some more awesome nutrients you’ll find in avocados are:
- vitamin E
- potassium (more than bananas!)
Contrary to popular belief eating a little bit of bacon here and there isn’t going to kill you. There are some facts about eating bacon in moderation.
High-quality bacon is quite high in choline. A nutrient found to help to fight off mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease (8). Bacon comes with a good amount of B vitamins as well as zinc needed for the production of serotonin.
Serotonin is the feel-good hormone in your body released in the brain that can help to reduce anxiety. Just make sure you seek out bacon that is locally sourced, pastured raise and nitrite-free. It’ll be less toxic and more nourishing for you.
The unhealthiness of beef has been greatly exaggerated and skipping this red meat will mean missing out on its health benefits.
Grass-fed beef contains healthy dietary fat such as Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This special fat has been found to help improve your heart health and lower your belly fat (9). The saturated fat in grass-fed beef is of stearic acid that can help to lower LDL cholesterol.
This study in Nutritional Journal found grass-fed beef to be higher in CLA, stearic acid, and omega-3s than conventionally raised beef (10).
Grass-fed beef is a naturally leaner source of protein, zinc, and iron. Avoiding red meat like this will mean you’ll end up missing out on these vital nutrients. Many vegans and vegetarians lack the vitamins you’ll find in red meat.
All three of these nutrients can be hard to come by in most people’s diets. They’re all completely essential for your body.
I can still remember when I was a kid believing eating butter was bad for me. We’d switch out the butter for margarine, which turned out is high in trans fats and way worse for us.
I’ve since made the switch back over to real grass-fed organic butter. It’s loaded with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that are more than good for you.
They help to improve brain function, keep your skin looking beautiful, and are essential for your body. Butter is also rich in fat-soluble vitamins and trace minerals. This includes the powerful antioxidant selenium.
When I go to the gym I’ll usually toss some chia seeds into my water bottle to get an extra boost of energy. The Tarahumara Indians in the book Born To Run were famous for drinking only chia seed water on their 100+ mile runs in the desert.
You’ll find 9 grams of fat in one ounce of chia seeds as they’re 80% fat by calories. But the majority of these fats are ALA which is heart-healthy omega-3s.
Even though coconut oil is mostly made up of saturated fats it’ll still be good for you to eat to enhance weight loss. The saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of lauric acid which is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT).
MCTs are almost instantly converted by your liver for an energy boost. They aren’t turned into fat by your body since they’re never sent into your bloodstream. This study in Lipids found those who supplemented with coconut oil ended up losing dangerous belly fat (13).
The fats in coconut oil can help to improve your memory and brain function. They will also increase your HDL (good) cholesterol, improve your heart health, and reduce inflammation in your body. See my other blog post on coconut oil and weight loss for the best one you should be taking.
Eating a little bit of dark chocolate after dinner is a great “treat” to give your body. It’s much better for you than eating a cheesecake and can actually give you some health benefits.
Dark chocolate has the highest percentage of cocoa than other chocolates. Cocoa is packed with antioxidants and polyphenols such as epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidins. Crazy enough, cocoa has very high in antioxidants. So much so it clearly makes my superfoods list.
Dark chocolate also comes with many other nutrients that are great for your body. These include calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and flavonoids. This study found those who ate dark chocolate at least 5 times per week were less likely to die from heart disease (14).
All you’ll need is a few ounces of dark chocolate a day to reap all the health benefits. You’ll lower your blood pressure too from eating this delicious food. Try to find dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa and low in sugar.
Eggs are another food that was unjustly considered to be unhealthy. This is from the high amount of cholesterol they have. One egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol which is about 71% of the recommended daily allowance.
Yet, whole eggs (with the yolk) are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. This study by the University of Connecticut found the fat profile in eggs helped to reduce LDL cholesterol (15). This is the complete opposite of what conventional wisdom says.
Whole eggs are a fantastic source of choline. This powerful nutrient can be hard to find in foods that attack the genes that can cause your body to store fat. This study found those who replaced their bagel breakfast with eggs ended up losing more weight (16).
Eggs are healthy as long as you keep them in moderation and find pastured omega-3 rich ones.
I like to add a scoop of ground flax seeds to my protein shakes for an extra boost of healthy fats. Flax seeds contain Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This is an essential omega-3 fatty acid needed by your body. It’ll keep your weight in control and reduce inflammation.
There is a good amount of soluble and insoluble fiber in flax seeds. They’ll help to reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health. This study found the fats in flaxseeds were beneficial to your heart health (17).
Adding some ground flax seeds to your protein shakes and smoothies is an easy way to get more healthy fats in your diet. Just make sure you grind them up into ground flax seeds to get all the benefits.
Most yogurts you’ll find in the grocery store are packed with sugar. Even though they’re supposedly healthy for you because they’re low in fat. A low-sugar Greek yogurt will be far superior as it’s high in protein, calcium, and probiotics.
Greek yogurt can make a great quick on-the-go snack you can take anywhere to help to lose more weight. The Journal of American College of Nutrition found the probiotics in yogurt had beneficial bacteria in them (18). They found they could reduce inflammation while promoting weight loss.
Not to mention the high amount of protein in Greek yogurt will take longer to break down in your body. This raises your metabolism so you can burn more calories while feeling fuller longer.
I hate to lump all nuts into one category but there were so many I couldn’t decide. The polyunsaturated fats in nuts can activate the genes in your body to lower fat storage. They can also help to improve insulin resistance and fight off type 2 diabetes.
My favorite nut is walnuts. They’re high in omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated healthy fats. Nuts seeds are a great snack food because you only need a handful to do the job.
The study by the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found groups eating more calories from nuts lost more weight despite equal calories (19). Eating nuts can help to reduce the risk of blood clots that can lead to heart attacks (20). Nuts will improve the health of the lining of your arteries.
They also make a great snack just be careful not to eat too many. Eating pistachios will naturally limit how many you can eat since you’ll have to crack the shell.
Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
Most have heard olive oil is good for them but make sure you always buy extra virgin olive oil. Other olive oils can be lower in omega-3’s and become more rancid. Olive oil is super rich in monounsaturated fats with cancer-fighting polyphenols.
This study in Obesity found children who ate lots of olive oil had lower BMI’s compared to those who didn’t (21). Olive oil can also increase your natural blood levels of serotonin. This is the feel-good hormone that also helps you feel full.
Cheese is one of the most popular foods in the world for a very good reason. It’s incredibly delicious. Turns out it’s good for you as well. Parmesan cheese is the highest in calcium. Cheese is also packed with protein, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
The healthy fats in cheese can slow down the absorption of sugar and carbs. Most of the time people eat cheese with crackers and other refined carbs. This slow-absorb of nutrients will provide you with steady energy levels too. The fats in cheese will help with your brain function so you’ll stay sharp as a tack.
This study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found those who ate high dairy products ended up having the lowest rates of obesity (23).
Pork is one of those foods with a stigma around it as an unhealthy choice. In moderation, eating lean cuts of pork from grass-fed resources can be good for you.
Eating the occasional pork tenderloin can help to add some flare to your diet. Otherwise, it’s way too easy to go crazy from only eating chicken breasts.
It’ll be a much wiser choice than eating heavily processed bacon. These poorer choices for bacon are loaded with nitrates, sodium, and hormones that can lead to heart disease and cancer. Instead, go with some pork tenderloin or healthier versions of bacon.
This is a little surprising to find out spirulina is high in fat. This blue-green algae is high in heart-healthy omega-3’s like EPA and DHA. Spirulina is rich in protein and probiotics helping to slim down your belly.
The study by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise followed 9 men taking spirulina for 4 weeks (24). They found the men taking spirulina were able to run 30% longer and burned 11% more fat than the men that didn’t take any.
In my MetaboGreens review, you’ll find out how I get my daily serving of spirulina along with many other powerful nutrients in one scoop.
For far too long we choose to drink skim milk over whole milk. The high-fat content in whole milk was frowned upon. This turned out to be 100% false.
People with high-fat dairy products are less likely to become obese than those on low-fat dairy diets (25). Researchers have agreed there is no definitive evidence proving high-fat dairy diets result in many negative health problems.
Whole milk can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable much better than skim milk. Drinking milk doesn’t make you fat and turns out the opposite is actually true. This study paradoxically found high dairy fat helped to lower belly fat (26). They also found those on a low-fat dairy diet had more abdominal fat.
You’ll want to keep on your calories even though you’re drinking whole milk. Consuming way too many calories will, of course, lead to weight gain too. Make sure if you do consume dairy products preferably they’ll be raw and sourced from organic, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free sources.
Salmon is a fatty fish that turns out to be good for you. Wild-caught salmon is super high in omega 3 fatty acids. These essential fats from this fatty fish help fight off inflammation in your body. I always recommend taking an omega 3 fatty acid supplement to counter inflammation in your body that can lead to weight gain.
The omega-3’s in salmon will:
- improve heart health
- burn fat
- lower triglycerides
- lower blood pressure
Make sure you stay away from farmed salmon as it’s way lower in omega-3’s than wild-caught. Wild salmon is one of the best fish for weight loss. This fatty fish is delicious and makes for the perfect healthy dinner and can help with weight loss.
High-Fat Foods to Avoid
Now just because vegetable oil is sourced from vegetables doesn’t make it healthy. Crazy enough there are certain vegetable oils that cause a lot of oxidative damage and inflammation in your body.
Heat sensitive polyunsaturated fats and trans fats are the worst. Canola oil is the worst of the bunch and degrades rapidly when used in heat yet it’s used in the preparation of many dishes. And you can find both canola oil and soybean oil in many of the processed foods on store shelves and in fried foods.
Here are the worst high-fat foods you should avoid:
- canola oil
- soybean oil
- sunflower oil
- cottonseed oil
- corn oil
- grapeseed oil
- safflower oil
- non-butter spreads (margarine)
If you have to use any of the above vegetable oils try to only use them at room temperature. Cooking with them leads to oxidation and that’s when the real problems start happening.
Margarine contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that studies have found to not only cause weight gain but can lead to serious health problems. These were once advertised to be healthier for us than butter but turns out this trans fat does the opposite. In 2018 the Food and Drug Administration finally decided to start taking action towards getting rid of trans fats in processed foods.
Is saturated fat good for weight loss?
Contrary to what we’ve been told for decades having a little saturated fat is actually good for you. There are more and more studies coming out finding that saturated fat consumption doesn’t contribute to heart disease.
We’ve been wired to believe saturated fats will clog our arteries and fatten out belly but the truth is the opposite. Bad vegetable oils and trans fats are the real bad fats you should be avoiding. Having some saturated fat with your unsaturated fats can be good for you too.
The Last Word
With the good fats to eat above, there’s no doubt you can start losing more weight in no time. The worst thing you can do is skip these healthy fat foods. Most people do this and end up eating more sugar and refined carbohydrates.
The best thing you can do for your body is to eat more healthy fats from this list. It’ll help to keep the sugar and bad carbs out of your diet. You don’t have to follow a low-fat diet to lose weight but you should instead be cutting out the bad fats and carbs.
Processed foods are loaded with unhealthy trans fat and polyunsaturated fat vegetable oils that cause serious health problems and can make you gain weight. You should be avoiding bad vegetable oils, trans fats, fried foods, and processed foods.
The more beneficial fats you’re eating the less belly fat you’re going to have. You’ll also be consuming fewer calories to help keep your waistline slim.
Eating healthy fat foods tastes delicious and will help to reduce the cravings for sugar. Stick with my favorite 18 good fats above to keep your belly feeling full while keeping the fat off your gut.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.