Let’s talk about fat!

Does fat make you fat? Does fat make you burn fat? Should I be avoiding fat? Should I eat fat before my workouts? Should I be eating it after my workout? What do I do?

These are all common questions that a lot people struggle with to find the right answer too. If you have read some of my previous blogs you will know that I am convinced that eating higher amounts of good fats will actually help you out in a lot of different ways throughout the day. What are those goods fat? why are they good? How are they helping me throughout the day? Those are all great questions that I am going to answer in this blog.

What are good fats and what makes them good?

Yes there are fats that we can label as ”good/healthy” and bad/unhealthy”. The big difference between the two is how they affect our bodies and health. The thing we’re looking for in healthy fats is the cholesterol called HDL, while the unhealthy fats have a lot of the LDL cholesterol in them.

The LDL cholesterol fats are the ones that clog up our arteries, stimulate health and heart diseases etc.. While the HDL cholesterol fats are the fats that support and have a positive impact on your mood, energy levels, lower blood pressure and the ability to lose body fat (I know, crazy right).

We find the HDL cholesterol in the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A list of these foods include:

  • olive, peanut, sesame oil
A Guide to Choosing Healthy Fats
healthy fats
  • avocados
  • cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia, hazelnuts, brazil nuts
  • peanutbutter
  • sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia seeds
  • fatty fish like, salmon, tuna, sardines, herring etc..
  • tofu
  • eggs
  • cheese
  • mayonaise

The LDL cholesterol can be found in trans and saturated fats. We have to be extra careful with the trans fats because these fats not only raise the LDL cholesterol but lowers the amount of HDL cholesterol within your body at the same time. A list of these foods include:

  • fried foods
  • store bought pastries and baked goods, cookies, doughnuts, pizza dough, cake etc.
  • Packaged snack foods, crackers, microwave popcorn, chips etc.

Saturated fats:

  • red meat
  • full fat dairy products, cheese, milk, cream etc.
  • butter
  • ice cream
  • coconut and palm oil

Omega 3

When we look back thousands and thousands of years ago, our omega 3 to omega 6 fat ratio was about 1:2. In today’s world our current ratio is more like 1:20, this is not ideal because the omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory fats whereas the omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory fats. If we stay away from processed foods this should help us get back closer to our ideal ratio but processed foods aren’t the only foods that contain omega 6 fats. Foods like vegetable oils, nuts, conventionally raised (grain-fed/feedlot) meat and eggs, and farm-raised fish contain high amounts of omega 6 fats. This is one of the reasons why a lot of people are pushing for wild and grass fed meats, fish and eggs, those are the foods that contain higher amounts of omega 3 fats.

Omega 3 fats - HEART UK

Research has shown that omega 3 fats can improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular function, nervous-system function, immune health, memory, and mood issues. Whether that’s in the form of real foods and limiting your omega 6 fats or by supplementation.

A lot of you probably know that wild caught fish is on of the best sources of omega 3 fats out there. If you don’t care for fish or if you’re vegetarian/vegan than you might want to consider adding in more omega 3 fats by supplementation in the form of fish oil.

What does fat do for me throughout the day?

Fats are the complete opposite of our other fuel source, the carbohydrates. Where carbohydrates are a fast fuel source, fats are slow, carbohydrates give us 4 calories per gram where fats give us 9 calories per gram. It’s important to understand this last part when we’re talking about your daily nutrition. It might not look like it on your plate but portion wise you could have the same amount of potatoes and fatty fish, the fish is going to provide you with a lot more calories for that same portion. Because fat is such a slow fuel source and it gives us double the amount of calories per gram it provides us with a satisfied feeling after we’re done eating. Besides that feeling of being satisfied, here is a list of other benefits that eating a higher amount of healthy fat each day provides you with.

  • energy levels throughout the day
  • regulating your blood sugar level
  • keeping your organs protected and insulated
  • burning fat
  • supports cell growth
  • supporting and stimulating heart health
  • keeping you satisfied longer
  • fighting chronic diseases
Choosing Healthy Fats: A Guide to Types, 11 Food Tips, and More
more benefits of consuming fat

Fat & working out

As far as I know there has been this constant battle against consuming fat when we’re talking about the relationship to working out. What if consuming fat will actually help you maintain a steady energy level throughout your training session? If fats help us maintain a steady energy level throughout the entire day (like we have talked about earlier) than why would the same thing not be true when it comes to working out? I am not saying that you should consume a bunch of fat about 20 minutes before you start your session because fat is a slow acting energy source and takes time to digest. It does take your body a little while to absorb and take care of everything. Neither would I recommend consuming a big amount of fat directly post workout, because fats are slow they will also slow the digestion of your protein down (and with that your recovery). To sum it up, fats are a great energy source to consume in advance of your training session because it will keep you from crashing, you would run that risk with a carb heavy meal before working out.

How do I know what the right amount of fat is?

Just like we would do this with carbs and proteins, it’s all about trial and error. Make small changes on a daily/weekly basis until you find the right combination of macros that work for you. Like I’ve said before, if it makes you feel good and supports your lifestyle one day, it’s probably going to benefit you the next day as well. Try to shift your focus to eating protein and fats the majority of your meals, carbohydrates after your workout and vegetables to finish off certain meals.

Remember, the priority is still our protein intake, then our healthy fats and then our carb intake in the form of fruits and vegetables. Focus on whole foods as much as you can and you will automatically stay away from the processed foods and with that a lot of the ”unhealthy” fats as well.

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Categories: fat, Fitness, Food, nutrition, weight lossTags: , , , , ,


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