Nancy, are fat-free foods, like skim milk and fat-free salad dressing, wise additions to my sports diet? Or should I choose 2% milk and olive oil dressings?
The answer to that question depends on what other foods are in the entire meal. The goal is to not eat fat-free meals! That is, a fat-free breakfast of cereal with skim milk can leave you feeling “unfed” and hankering for a donut or two by 9:30 a.m. In comparison, choosing 2% milk with the cereal could help you feel satiated. Better yet, add whole grain toast with all-natural peanut butter to the breakfast and you will be truly content.
Similarly, eating a salad with fat-free dressing can leave you hankering for cookies—unless you toss in some quality calories, such as avocado, chopped walnuts, tuna and extra-virgin olive oil. Including some health-promoting fat in each meal and snack can actually help save you calories in the long run if it calms the cookie monster.
Should I avoid peanut butter because it is so high in fat?
No! Research suggests people who eat nuts and peanut butter are not fatter than people who avoid those foods. While the majority of calories in peanut butter do come from fat, the good news is the fat is primarily poly- and mono-unsaturated (only 1 g sat-fat per tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter). Peanut and other nut-butters protect against heart disease and diabetes, two diseases related to inflammation. Like all fats, enjoy nut butters in portions that fit within your calorie budget.
I consider peanut butter to be one of the best sports foods (and diet foods) around, not just because it knocks down inflammation, but because it is yummy and satiating. That is, a lunchtime low-fat turkey sandwich leaves me hankering for dessert, but a peanut butter and honey sandwich leaves me feeling satiated for several hours; no snacks needed!
For more information: Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook