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For many people, “Fat” is a three-letter word that strikes fear into their hearts.
For the most part, what many people believe is that their daily fat intake is responsible for them being overweight and therefore think that fats need to be removed from their diet in order to get back in shape.
What makes this worse is the media and all the links between fat and heart disease, cholesterol problems and what not.
The truth is, dietary fat is IMPORTANT to our fitness goals and overall health itself.
And eliminating fats is not only harmful for us but actually undermines our progress towards a fitter and nicer body.
The good part is the name of fat is not as bashed up today as it was back in the 80s and 90s. Today, carbohydrates have taken the blame for weight gain and so fats have finally been discouraged. The recent development of omega 3 fats that are really good for everyone has also helped in clearing the reputation of fats to a great extent.
So even though fats have started to lose their negative stigma, not many talk about the real purpose of fat and its benefits. So my goal with this article is to do that and also dispel some myths associated with fat.
So here we go
Dietary fat is one of the three macronutrients found in our foods. However it is very energy dense (9 calories per gram compared to 4 cals/gm for carbs and protein). Since it is a macronutrient, it can be used by the body to provide energy. However, this is only possible if the main source of energy (i.e. carbohydrates) is not available. Fats or lipids belong to the group of nutrients that do not mix in water (called ‘hydrophobic’ or ‘water hating’).
Now, there are some areas of dietary fat that I want to focus on. They are important to understand, not only by a fitness enthusiast but also someone who wants to improve their health and lead a better life.
iii) Fat transfer
iv) Saturated fat and heart disease
v) Dietary fat and adipose tissue
Fats play an important role in the proper functioning of the human body. They perform many important functions such as:
- One of the biggest functions of dietary fat is the regulation of hormones especially anabolic hormones like Testosterone and HGH (growth hormone).
- They are needed for the organization of each and every cell in the human body.
- Fats act as ‘gatekeepers’ allowing nutrients to enter the cell and waste to be thrown out.
- They help cell walls receive signals from hormones like insulin
- Many nerve cells in the brain and nervous system are surrounded by fatty acids that aid in the rapid transmission of nerve signals.
- A critical balance of essential fatty acids (omega-3s and omega-6s) is needed to maintain healthy blood clotting, blood flow, cholesterol levels, inflammation and immune response.
- Essential fats are needed to maintain the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR).
- They are important in maintaining lean body mass (LBM).
There are three main categories of fats:
- The triglycerides
The most common fat found in our foods (95%) is triglycerides. So I will talk about them in this article.
I will write about dietary cholesterol in another post simply because it deserves attention and the fact that I don’t want to make this thing too long.
Most people have nothing to do with Phospholipids so I’ll leave it at that (Don’t want to bore you with unnecessary information)
So anyway, triglycerides. They are made of fatty acids. The types of fatty acids are:
1) Saturated Fatty Acids
- These fats are solid at room temperature.
- All animal fats are primarily saturated fatty acids
- The exception is fish that contain essential fatty acids
- These types of fatty acids have been wrongly accused of being the biggest cause of heart disease. I will address that further down this post
2) Unsaturated fatty acids
- These fats are liquid at room temperature
- All plant fats contain mainly unsaturated fatty acids.
- The difference is that coconut contains saturated fatty acids
- These are of two types:
a) Mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) or Omega-9 fatty acids
b) Poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) – These are classified as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats.
iii) FAT LOSS:
If you notice, I did not include Trans fats in the fats section. While some trace amounts of trans fat are naturally occurring in foods, by and large trans fats are not naturally occurring and everyone does.
Trans fats are AWFUL THING foods that people can eat.
Trans fats are synthetic fats found in processed foods.
Examples of such foods are:
1) Potato chips
2) French fries and crackers
4) Cakes, cakes, cakes, cookies / biscuits
5) Fried chicken
Trans fats are made by a chemical process known as partial hydrogenation. Trans fats are created for the purpose of acting on food to give food a longer shelf life.
Trans fats are the worst type of dietary fat and are the main cause of heart disease and cholesterol problems that many people face today.
In fact, they are so terrible that they have even worse effects than food contaminants and pesticides.
Regardless of whether you want to maintain a fit and attractive body or not, you must avoid trans fats because they damage the body from the inside and damage your health itself.
In fact, by eliminating the aforementioned foods, you can take advantage of the following benefits:
1) Quick and appropriate fat loss
2) Increase Energy
3) Have a healthy and clean environment in the body
4) More energy
5) Significant reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase in HDL (good) cholesterol
So what are you waiting for?
Ditch the trans fats and move to a healthier, cleaner and fitter body today!
iv) Obesity and Heart Disease:
Saturated fats lie in the gray area when it becomes part of our diets. I’m going to go against all the propaganda and say that saturated fat is actually good for us to some extent. Saturated fats boost testosterone which helps in the muscle gain process. However, since these fats are in hidden sources and are only needed in limited quantities, one does not need to add them openly to their diet.
A myth associated with saturated fat and giving it such a bad name is the link between saturated fat and heart disease. This is due to a completely flawed study conducted in the 1950s by a scientist named Ancel Keys.
Now, I could go on explaining how false your study is but then again, you can find that out with a simple internet search.
(v) DIETARY FAT AND TISSUE:
This is what people need to understand. Dietary fat and body fat (adipose tissue) are NOT THE SAME. And neither is the case of the latter because of the former.
All fat in the body is not adipose tissue.
Adipose tissue is only meant for the storage of excess fat.
The purpose of adipose tissue is to
Serve as an emergency power reserve
To keep the body warm (thermal insulation)
To protect the body against physical impact
Contrary to popular belief, fat in the diet does not necessarily lead to increased body fat.
Dietary fats will ONLY be stored as body fat if they are consumed in excess of what your body needs to perform its functions.
The same applies to carbohydrates and protein as well. If you eat more than you need, it will be stored as fat.
So your dietary fat has nothing to do with how much fat you have on your body.
This concludes my long article on dietary fat. I hope it has given you a better understanding of this topic and dispelled the false myths that have been spread.
Make sure you understand the role of fats and NEVER eliminate them from your diet regardless of your fitness goals. Try to be about 25-30% of your calories from fat (depending on activity and goals) most of which should be saturated fat. Try it out, and see the difference it makes to your body.
Here is a guide to which fats you should eat and which ones you should avoid.
Monounsaturated fat: Olive oil, Avocados, Olives, Almonds, Peanuts, Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, Sunflower oil, Peanut oil, Sesame oil.
Polyunsaturated fat: Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines), walnuts, flax seeds, corn oil, safflower oil.
Saturated fat: Coconut oil, 2% cottage cheese, 2% milk, natural butter (optional), low fat cheese
Fat transfer: Commercially made pastries, cookies, donuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough, packaged snacks (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips), Fried foods (french fries, fried chicken, chicken, breaded fish), Margarine.
Saturated fat: High fat meat (beef, lamb, pork), Chicken with skin, Fat dairy products (milk and cream), Ice cream, Palm oil, Lard
Until next time,
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