Let’s talk about dietary fats, more specifically the different types of fats and which fats should exist in our diet......
Yes, you’ve all heard of dietary fats, some people are still under the impression that dietary fats make you fat and others believe that fats are just another macronutrient your body needs to survive, just like proteins and carbs, personally I believe in the latter.
Fats are also known as Triglyceride. The body can synthesise most of the fats it needs from our diets. However, there are a couple of essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesised in the body and must be obtained from food. These basic fats are used to build specialised fats called Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are important in the normal functioning of all tissues of the body. Generally peoples diets are high enough in Omega-6, so we need to focus more on getting in our Omega-3, we can do this by consuming foods such as salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, mackerel etc.
So, why do we need fats? Well, fats help the body absorber certain nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K as well as acting as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism.
This brings us to thinking, why have fats got such a bad reputation? Well, there at two types of fats, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are said to increase LDL (bad cholesterol), but there is no scientific evidence directly supporting this claim. So, saturated fats do have their place within our diet and are in some kick ass foods, foods such as steak, eggs, sausages, cheese and coconut oil. I know saturated fats have had a bad reputation for a long time, but they are massively beneficial in appropriate quantities, so like most things, the devil is in the dosage.
We then move onto the unsaturated fats, these are insanely healthy, more so than saturated fats, they’re found in nuts, seeds, peanut butter….yes please!……avocados and fish. Certain unsaturated fats contain Omega 3 fats acids and as we have already mentioned, they have tons of health benefits. Personally, I don’t get enough Omega 3 in my diet so I supplement with a fish oil tablet.
With unsaturated fats you can chose from monounsaturated (single double bond) or polyunsaturated (two double bonds) both of which are awesome!
Okay, so at this point you’re probably thinking that unsaturated fats are class, but beware of trans fats. Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been hydrogenated, these are not heathy and are the biggest culprit for fats overall bad reputations, you should most definitely stay away from trans fats. These are found in hydrogenated vegetable oils, fast foods, cakes, pastries, chocolate and deep fired foods…..devastating I know, over consumption of these foods will definitely increase you chances of having a heart attack, as well as stacking on some unwelcome pounds.
So, with all these health benefits it sounds like fats, mainly unsaturated and a little bit of saturated, should make a huge part of our diet. Yes they should make up a decent amount of your diet, around 30% (unless you’re a fan of the ketogenic diet, then it will be a lot more) the rest of your diet should be made up of proteins and carbs.
One thing you need to be carful with is the calorie density of fats, they’re a whopping 9 calories per gram, over double the quantity in proteins and carbs, so you do need to keep an eye on the calories if your goal is fat loss.
Fats are essential for a healthy body and mind, but like all macronutrients the devil is in the dosage, so don’t kick the ass out of it!
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