Fats : Exonerated
// October 23rd, 2011 // Nutrition
Hey there SFS followers!
First off, my sincerest apologies for not posting up an article for all this while.
College is catching up to me nowadays and that along with answering so many questions put forth by people has left me little time to focus on blog posts.
Anyway, without further adieu lets move on to the post on the third and final macronutrient: DIETARY FAT
Now, for most people, “FAT” is a three letter word that strikes fear in their hearts.
For the most part, what most people believe is that their daily fat intake is responsible for them being overweight and therefore assume that fats need to be eliminated from their diet in order to get back in shape.
What makes this worse is the media and all the linkups between fat and heart disease,cholesterol problems and what not.
The fact is, that dietary fat is CRUCIAL to our fitness goals and overall health itself.
And that eliminating fats is not only harmful for us but actually ruins our movement towards a fitter and more attractive physique.
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 therefore
fats have finally got some slack. The recent surge of omega 3 fats being really good for all has also helped in clearing the name of fats to a great extent.
So even though fats are starting to lose the negative stigma,not many talk about the actual purpose of fat and its benefits. So my aim with this article is to do that and also clear out certain myths associated with fat.
So here we go
Dietary fat is one of the three macronutrients available in our foods. It is however very energy dense (9 calories per gram in comparison 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 done in case the primary energy source (i.e carbohydrates) are unavailable. Fats or lipids belong to a group of nutrients that do not mix in water (called ‘hydrophobic’ or ‘water hating’).
Now, there are certain areas of dietary fat that I wish to focus on. They are necessary to understand, not just by a fitness enthusiast but also someone who wishes to improve their health and lead a better life.
iii) Comparison of dietary fat sources
iv) Trans fat
v) Saturated fat and heart disease
vi) Dietary fat and adipose tissue
Fats play a crucial role in the proper functioning of the human body. They serve many vital functions such as:
- One of the biggest functions of dietary fat is regulation of hormones especially anabolic hormones like Testosterone and HGH (growth hormone)
- They are needed for the structure of each and every cell in the human body.
- Fats act like a ‘gatekeeper’ allowing nutrients to enter the cell and wastes to be thrown out.
- They help cell walls in receiving signals from hormones such as insulin
- Many nerve cells in the brain and nervous system are surrounded by fatty acids that help in faster transmission of nerve signals
- A critical balance of essential faty acids (omega-3s and omega-6s) is needed to maintain healthy blood clotting, blood circulation, cholesterol levels,inflammation and immune response.
- Essential fats are needed to maintain body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR)
- They are essential in preserving lean body mass (LBM)
There are three major categories of fats:
The most common fat found in our foods (95 %) are triglycerides.So I shall speak about them in this article.
I shall write about dietary cholesterol in another post simply because it deserves undiluted attention and the fact that I don’t want to make this article too long.
Most people have little to nothing to do with Phospholipids so I shall leave that out ( Don’t want to bore you with unnecessary information )
So anyway, triglycerides. They are made up of fatty acids. The types of fatty acids are:
1) Saturated Fatty acids
- These fats are solid at room temperature.
- All animal fats have mainly saturated fatty acids
- Exception is fish which has mainly unsaturated fatty acids
- These type of fatty acids have been wrongly blamed to be the greatest cause of heart disease. I shall address that further down this post
2) Unsaturated fatty acids
- These fats are fluids at room temperature
- All plant fats have mainly unsaturated fatty acids.
- Exception is coconut which has mainly 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) COMPARISON OF DIETARY FAT SOURCES:
The following figure is pretty much all you need to understand this section and is self explanatory.
iv) TRANS FAT:
If you notice, I didn’t include Trans fats in the classification of fats. While some trace amounts of trans fat is naturally occurring in foods, by and large most trans fats are NOT naturally occurring and are generally man made.
Trans fats are THE WORST foods that one can possibly consume.
Trans fats are synthetic fats present in processed foods.
Examples of such foods are:
2)French fries and crackers
Trans fats are made by a chemical process known as partial hydrogenation. Trans fats are created due to over-processing of food in order to give a food longer shelf life.
Trans fats are the worst kind of dietary fat and are the primary cause of the heart disease and cholesterol problems that many people face today.
In fact, they are so horrible that they have even worse effects than food contaminants and pesticides.
Irrespective of whether you want to maintain a fit and attractive body or not,you must avoid trans fats because they damage the body from within and compromise your health itself.
As a matter of fact, by simply eliminating the aforementioned foods, you can avail the following benefits:
1)Quick and permanent fat loss
3)Healthier and cleaner environment inside the body
5)Drastic reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase in HDL (good ) cholesterol
So what are you waiting for?
Dump trans fats and move to a healthier,cleaner and fitter body today!
v) SATURATED FAT AND HEART DISEASE:
Saturated fats lie in a grey area when it comes to being a part of our diets. I am going to go against all the propaganda and state that saturated fat is actually good for us to a certain extent. Saturated fats promote testosterone which aids in muscle gain process. However, since these fats are available in hidden sources and required only in limited quantities, one doesn’t need to explicitly add them to their diet.
One myth that is associated with Saturated fat and is creating such a bad name for it is the linkup between Sat-fat and heart disease. This is due to a completely flawed research conducted in the 1950s by a scientist named Ancel Keys.
Now, I can go on and explain how his study was bogus but fortunately, I came across a video that is explains it all too well (and with a bit of humor). Check it out:
I’m sure you now realize that most of the stuff thrown around on the internet is bogus. Well, that’s what I’m here for. Don’t worry. We will let go of these myths one by one.
v) DIETARY FAT AND ADIPOSE TISSUE:
This is something people NEED to understand. Dietary fat and body fat (adipose tissue) are NOT THE SAME. And neither is the occurrence of the latter because of the former.
All fat in the body is not adipose tissue.
Adipose tissue is only meant for storage of excess unused fat.Adipose tissue is present under the skin (subcutaneous fat) all over the body and around the internal organs (visceral fat).
The purpose of adipose tissue is to
- Serve as an emergency energy reserve
- To keep the body warm(thermal insulation)
- To protect organs against physical impact
Contrary to what people believe, fat in the diet does not necessarily lead to increased body fat.
Fats in the diet will be stored as body fat ONLY if they are consumed more than required by your body to perform its functions.
The same applies to carbohydrates and protein as well. If you consume more than you need, it will get stored as fat.
So your dietary fat does not co-relate with the amount of fat you have on your body.
This concludes my length article on Dietary fat. I hope it has brought you better understanding about this topic and clears the senseless myths that have been propagated.
Make sure you understand the role of fats and NEVER exclude them from your diet irrespective of your fitness goals. Strive to consume about 25-30 % of your calories from fat (depending on activity and goals) most of which should be unsaturated fat. Try it out, and see the difference it makes to your body.
Here is a reference table for the fats you should consume and those that 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 (sparingly),low fat cheese
|Trans fat: Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough , Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips) , Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish) , Margarine.
Saturated fat: High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork),Chicken with the skin,Whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream),Ice cream,Palm oil,Lard
Until next time,
DREAM IT, BELIEVE IT, ACHIEVE IT!
Your friend and mentor,