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Do Fat or Calories cause weight gain?

Each week we’ll be pulling out one of your emails from our mail bag and featuring them here. Feel free to submit as many questions as you would like. All questions having to do with Nutrition, Weight Loss and Obesity-related health conditions are fair game.

“Dr. Kim,

I'm confused about what causes weight gain. Is it Fat or Calories
?"

- Janet W. (Aliso Viejo)

Essentially, eating more calories (energy) than you expend will lead to weight gain. However, the reason that fat and weight gain seem to go hand in hand is because fat yields more than double the calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein.

Fat = 9 calories per gram
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
Protein = 4 calories per gram

Therefore, it is easier to gain weight if you consume high amounts of fat in your diet.

For example:

1 oz cheddar cheese = 110 calories
1 cup broccoli, 3 oz baby carrots and 2 Tbsp hummus = 105 calories

  • This example shows that you can eat a big low-fat snack of raw vegetables and hummus for fewer calories than a small high-fat snack of cheese.

Although calories essentially lead to weight gain, limiting your fat intake may help with weight loss by reducing the amount of calories you consume.

Here are some tips on how to cut back on fat:

  • Purchase low-fat dairy products
  • Use extra-lean ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey
  • Instead of bacon, use turkey bacon, Canadian bacon or prosciutto
  • Trim all fat from meat cuts and remove chicken skin
  • Try meat substitutes such as veggie burgers or turkey sausages
  • Sautee meats and vegetables in vegetable broth or cooking wine instead of oils or butter
  • Use apple, pumpkin or other fruit butters instead of butter or margarine
  • Use fat-free salad dressing

When dining out, choose menu items that are baked, broiled, steamed, poached or grilled instead of fried or breaded.

What’s great about working with a medical weight loss center is that not only do you have access to diet plans, a FDA approved weight loss program, safe appetite suppressants and a medical weight loss clinic, you have a place to ask questions, get tips (for example how do you get a small waist?) and discover creative weight management programs that allow you to get long-lasting results. It’s the best way to truly change your lifestyle and create a healthier you.

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