Warning: Oil - The Hidden Ingredient Adding Inches To Your Waist - And What To Do About It

Author - Stephen Griffith C.S.C.S.


I pride myself on being able to help people achieve their goals.

Yet there I was, the expert, stumped on how to continue.

For the 3rd week in a row Marie’s weight and waist circumference refused to budge and I had no idea why.

Her photo food log looked great. The portion sizes weren't to big and included plenty of vegetables.

She also had adamantly assured me that there was no food missing from her log. I believed her too - an accountant by trade this woman doesn’t miss a detail - she once weighed each of the dumbbells in the gym to see if they were exactly the weight they said they were.

In the previous week we had already reduced her portion size and added more vegetables.

Her workouts were already improving and we didn’t need to add more.

I didn’t know what change to implement next.

What I didn’t know at the moment was that the culprit was hiding right in the photos she was diligently sending me.  I just couldn’t see it.

Take a look at the meal below  - Can you spot the fat gaining culprit?


Good looking meal eh? but can you see the hidden ingredient?


How about now? it’s a bit easier

Need a hit? Look at that sheen on the vegetables.


Aha, the answer is fat - namely in the form of oil.

To much fat could also be the reason why despite your healthy eating the scale isn’t changing.

While fat is an essential nutrient and part of the diet, eating  too much of has been linked to heart disease and cancer.

Oil is especially problematic because it is highly processed. In the creation of oil most of the nutrients are loss and only the calories remain.

Gram for gram there is more than twice as many calories in fat than carbs or protein.


  • Carbs -4 calories per gram

  • Protein- 4 calories per gram

  • Fat - 9 calories per gram

What does that mean?

It means that it is very easy to over do fats. Especially if served as oil.

Just one tablespoon of olive oil has almost 120 calories.

Now when you oil your pan to cook, how many spoonfuls do you use?

If you did as I did then you just take the bottle and pour till you have enough to coat the pan.

When you then cook, that oil ends up as a part of your finished dish.

All that oil adds up.

Consider this

1 cup of broccoli is about 30 calories.

If you saute it in a pan you may add 2 tablespoons of olive oil which is about 240 calories.

As you cook, that oil gets cooked into the broccoli.

Assuming that there's some oil left in your pan, your broccoli may now be about 150 calories.

That’s 5 times what the calories of that broccoli raw.

Overtime these calories add up. Every time you cook your veggies, your meat, or cover your salad in oil you are adding a significant amount of calories to your meal.

Just one tablespoon a meal could mean over 2100 calories a week. That is more than half a pound of fat.

Side note - What about healthy oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil ect…aren't they good for you?

Typically speaking, what makes one food healthier than another is it’s nutritional density.

Nutritional density refers to the ratio of nutrients to calories in a food. Vegetables are considered healthy because they have a ton of nutrients while containing only a few calories. By contrast cakes tend to be unhealthy because they have few nutrients while containing a  lot of calories.

By this measure, oils don’t do very well. During processing, oils lose a lot of its nutrients. Olives are objectively better for you than olive oil. When we say olive oil is good, we really mean by comparison to certain processed vegetable oils it is.  

However no oil in excess is healthy. Stick to real olives.

In moderation a little oil is fine, however you should be aware of how many calories you may be inadvertently adding to your diet by coating that pan in oil.

Food is something that should be enjoyed and I won’t deny that oils are great for flavor. However, it is possible to cook great food without oil.

For the remainder of this articles I’d like to go over a few ways on how you can reduce the amount of oil in your diet so you may continue to see progress.

Food Prep

Dropping excess fats from your cooking starts before you begin cooking.

Choose cuts of lean meat or trim the fat off before you begin cooking.

After the cooking process spoon excess fat off of the food or if you cool the food you can spoon the fat off once it solidifies.

Tips for preparing tricky veggies such as squashes and mushrooms.

If you’ve ever cooked a mushroom and eggplant then you know that they act like little oil sponges.  Here is a great tips for reducing the oils these foods absorb.

Mushrooms - They recommend microwaving your mushrooms for a few minutes before you sautee them. When you cook the mushrooms first it collapses the many air pockets limiting the amount of oil it can then absorb.

Eggplants - They recommend adding salt then throwing it into the microwave for a few minutes on a paper towel to give the same effect.


Besides flavor, a major reason we use oil to cook is to prevent food from sticking to the surface of the pan.  

This problem can be remedied by choosing the right cookware.

There's a large array of non-stick pots and pans that make it easy to cook without oil.

Now not all non-stick pans are made equal. Many cheaper common non stick pans use substances such as Teflon which can leach toxic when heated to high temperatures.

If your looking to avoid Teflon products then consider a quality, heavy bottomed stainless steel pan, enamel coated iron, or ceramic titanium.

If you want a good list of possible non toxic non stick cookware considering checking out the list compiled by Organic Authority. The pan may be more expensive - but isn’t avoiding obesity and toxins worth it?

9 Non-Toxic Cookware Brands to Keep Chemicals Out of Your Food

When baking or roasting vegetables you may also consider lining your pan with parchment paper. Parchment paper will help ensure that nothing sticks - just be sure to check the directions and maximum amount of heat that the parchment paper can take.

Cooking Method

What method you choose to cook will have the biggest influence on how much oil you use in your meal.


I love to saute foods but sauteing is the most oil intensive method of cooking outside of frying. However, there are ways to continue to saute without the use of so much oil.

When you saute your vegetables you can substitute water and/or broth.

Add broth to your skillet and get it nice and hot. Keep the veggies moving so they don’t stick.

When cooking add just a tablespoon of broth or water at a time as needed. This will keep the food from sticking while not inadvertently steaming your veggies.

Baking and Roasting


While oil helps with browning it is not necessary. Vegetables will brown on their own if you cook them low and slow.

A great method for delicious oil free roasted vegetables is to steam your starchy vegetables first.

Steam starchy vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, or beats for a few minutes , season, and then throw into the oven to roast. Other vegetables that aren't too starchy you can season and throw directly into the oven.


Steaming is a quick and easy way to cook vegetables without oil. If you don’t have a steamer I strongly recommend you get one.

Simply fill a pot partly with water, place your steamer, followed by your vegetables and lid.

Steam for a few minutes, remove, then season as desired. No oil needed.

Don’t have a steamer? Steam veggies in a flat-bottomed pan. Add just enough water (or veggie broth) to cover the bottom of the pan and get it boiling. Add your veggies and cover tightly. Cook for 1-2 minutes, remove from heat and let steam for 4-5 minutes. Add spices. Enjoy!


Spices make a meal. Good uses of spices will help bring out the flavors of your meals without the need of oil.

You can use unsweetened applesauce or banana to replace oil in baked goods as they add a little sweetness and lots of moisture.

You can also substitute fruit and vegetable juices in place of water and broth.

Vinegar, lemon and or fruit juice can be used on salads in place of oil.


Why was she not losing weight?

After a thorough investigation of her food and cooking methods we figured out that Maria was using to much oil in her cooking.  

Oils are pure fat with most of its nutritional qualities removed. While fats are not bad and the occasional use of oil is ok, to much can quickly become a problem.

After our session Marie’s assignment for the week was to reduce the amount of oil she used while cooking. Sure enough the following week she was a pound lighter.

I encourage you to take inventory on how much oil you may be consuming when you cook or when you order out. Chances are you are using a lot more than you think.

Implement the tips in this article and watch the pounds come off.

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