The Truth behind FAT
The word FAT instantly makes people think of putting on weight and foods that are bad for you. Fat is usually the first thing that people try to exclude from their diet when they are trying to lose weight. However, it is important that we understand the different types of fats and that some fats are essential for the body and can only be obtained in our diet.
Fats are the most energy dense macronutrient, they provide 9kcal of energy per gram compared to 4kcal of energy from protein and carbohydrate. Therefore fat is a fantastic energy source which keeps blood sugar levels stable and keeps you satisfied for longer as it takes more time to digest.
Fats do contain a lot of calories, so you do need to eat them in moderation, and it is very important to understand which are good sources of fat and which are the ones to avoid.
The Science behind FAT
20-35% of calories should come from fats (Dietary Reference Intakes published by the USDA). Fats have a direct link to weight gain, however some fat is essential for certain function and processes of the body.
Fat protects our organs, absorbs vitamins E, D and K, helps normal growth and development and maintains, repairs and protects cell membranes and keeps skin and hair healthy. Good fats leave us feeling full and are a good concentrated source of energy. Examples of good sources of fats are fish, olive oil and coconut oil.
Monounsaturated Fats – play an important role in lowering LDL (harmful) cholesterol, whilst leaving HDL (good) cholesterol alone. Foods such as olive oil, avocados and nuts are high in monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated Fats – also help lower cholesterol. These fats contain Omega -3, Omega -6, EPA , DHA and CLA, which can have positive implications on your health from depression to heart disease. CLA is particularly beneficial when trying to lose weight as it can help the body to build muscle and burn fat! These polyunsaturated fats are found in oily fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel.
Saturated Fats – can cause problems with cholesterol levels if eaten in excess. It has been proven that they are needed for testosterone production, but on the other hand increase the risk of heart disease. If you are eating healthily then you will naturally get these fats from meats and poultry. This is a better source than butter, lard and cream which are other sources of saturated fats.
Trans Fats – are responsible for raising the bad LDL cholesterol levels. This fat extends the shelf life of food and is found in fried foods and snack foods. Sometimes hydrogenated fats are also found hidden in some low fat diet products. Low fat ready meals may have hydrogenated fats in them to extend their shelf life, even though they are low in saturated fat. Where possible it is best to prepare all your meals from scratch to avoid any of these hidden fats. It is best to steer clear from these fats completely.
Just remember even good fats have calories, so use them in moderation and choose unsaturated over saturated.