Fit Tip Tuesday: How to find trans fats hiding

FTT - trans fat

Trans fats, and all fats actually, are difficult to understand. Most people really don’t know why trans are worse for you than other fats, they pretty must just get the gist of fats: trans fats= bad, omega-3s = good! Right? Why is coconut oil better for you than other oils? Is it? What about the butter or margarine debate? Olive oil? Fish? As you can clearly see, I could write about fat for days. So I figure, why not start at the belly of the fat beast: trans.

I could bore you guys with a biochemistry lesson (do any of you want to learn about the molecular structure of trans fats and why that makes them worse for you than other fats?), but instead, I’ll just explain what is important in your day-to-day life.

Doctors recommend you get less than 2 grams of trans fat per day. Easy enough if you avoid foods without trans fat. Wrong.

The FDA only requires that foods be labeled as having trans fat if there is greater than 0.5 grams in one serving. So, all of those foods with nutrition labels claiming “0 grams trans fat” could have as much as 0.5 grams of it in a serving! A half a gram may seem tiny and harmless, but trust me, 0.5 grams trans fat is a TOO MUCH of it. If you think about it, that makes it pretty easy to rack up over 2 grams per day of the stuff!

How do you avoid eating these secret trans fat foods? Read the ingredients, don’t trust the grams on the label. If the word “hydrogenated” is anywhere on the ingredient list, do not eat it!! And yes, “partially hydrogenated” still is hydrogenated, put it down!

So, to sum up, the label could be hiding an amount of trans fat that the FDA doesn’t require labeling. If the word “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” is anywhere on the ingred list, it contains up to 0.5 grams trans fat.

Bet you wanna punch the guy who invented hydrogenated oils in the face, huh? What kind of cold, cruel person would invent a process that makes fat even worse for you?! Fun fact: hydrogenated fat was not intended to be eaten when invented! It was in the mid 19th century, and street lamps were lit with oil from whale fat. By hydrogenating the oil, they could make it last longer without getting rancid and could have more control over the texture (making it more solid at average temperatures).

To be extra cautious, stick to fats that are liquid at room temperature (like oil!).

Do you guys have any fat questions? Curious about coconut oil? Would you want me to write about the more scientific side of trans fats? 


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  • ricardo gonzalez

    Hi Lisa! I just wanted to say I enjoy reading your posts every morning and love your passion and enegy levels! It’s contagious! Is there a specific brand of coconut oil that you recommend?

    Ricky g

    • Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

      Hi Ricky! I am SO flattered and honored that you read my posts every morning, thank you for the very kind words! :)

      That’s such a great question. I’ll be sure to go in-depth about how to pick the right oil when I write about coconut oil, but in the meantime….

      Coconut oil should be in the unrefined or extra virgin form. It is even more beneficial to choose an organic and raw variety. Refined coconut oils can be treated with lots of chemicals and processed with really high heat, which changes the conformation (the shape), compromising the health benefits of the oil. Be sure to also look at the label of your coconut oil. Some coconut oils will try to sound great on the front, but hide a list of contaminated ingreds that the oil could have come into contact with on the back. The color of the coconut oil should be pretty much white, and should smell sweet, like fresh coconuts.

      Personally, my favorite brand is Maison Orphee! :)



  • Skinny Opinion

    I’d love to learn more about coconut oil! I love using it to cook with (in small amounts of course) but now I’m curious if its not the best!


    • Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

      Will do, Jenn! :)


  • Erin @ The Almond Eater

    Oh wow! How rude. I’m really hoping to learn more about this kind of stuff this upcoming year-I’d like to know why coconut oil is “bad” for you. Maybe not bad, but I don’t think it’s particularly good either. But then again, I actually have no idea.

    • Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

      hahaha I love the honest indecision! I’ll definitely be writing about coocnut oil soon! :)


  • Sarah

    So interesting! I had no idea that hydrogenated fats originally weren’t even meant to be eaten. I don’t know much about coconut oil; I usually stick to olive oil…can you explain the health benefits/fat content of coconut vs olive oil? What are uses of coconut oil? Awesome blog!!

    • Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

      Coconut vs Olive is a GREAT idea, Sarah! It’s hard to keep up with recommendations. One minute everyone is telling you to use olive oil, the next it’s coocnut oil. I’ll start working on something like that!