Eat Healthy Fats to Lose Weight

Most people don’t realize this, but your body adapts easily to foods you prefer; it will learn to burn what you’re feeding it the most, says Joe Friel, co-author of The Paleo Diet for Athletes. You can use this to your advantage.

“When you eat a lot of starch, you become more of a sugar burner,” he explains. But most likely, your goal is weight loss and therefore you want to burn off the fat inside your body. That’s what aerobic exercise does so efficiently. And as it turns out, by eating healthy fats, you train your body to be better at fat burning.

In a Harvard study of 101 men and women, researchers put half the group on a low-fat diet and half on a diet that included about 20 percent of calories from healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs. Great sources include nuts, avocados, olives, and safflower oil. Eighteen months later, the MUFA-eating group dropped 11 pounds, compared to their low-fat eating peers, who shed only six pounds —  despite similar calorie consumption.

The message: Train your body to burn more fat by including healthy MUFAs in more of your meals, and reducing your consumption of carbs and sugars. For optimal weight loss, roughly half of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. The rest of your calories should come form lean proteins and healthy fats.

Plus: 9 Steps to Beginning a Low-Carb Diet

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