Core Sports Director and Personal Trainer Michael Crawford talks us through fat and the role it plays in a healthy diet.
Low fat, no fat, healthy fat, saturated fat, trans fat, mono unsaturated fat, poly un-saturated fat, Omega 3 fatty acids, Omega 6 fatty acids…… The list goes on. Which fats on the list should you eat? Which fats should you avoid? It can be very confusing. Today I’m going to give you some information that will help you make the right decision when is comes to eating fats.
Fats in your diet:
Omega 3 mono unsaturated fat: Eat a lot of this one. Our western diet is high in omega 6 and too low in omega 3 which has been shown to have an inflammatory effect on the body. Sources: Ocean caught fish, grass fed beef and lamb.
Omega 6 poly unsaturated fat: Is a healthy fat but most of us are getting more than enough in our diet so most people don’t need to go searching for extra sources.
Saturated Fat: There are many types, butyric acid which helps to heal the gut (found in grass fed butter), Caprylic acid (found in Coconut oil) which has been shown to fight heat disease, are common healthy facts. Here is an interesting fact… the only saturated fat that is really bad for us is called palmatic acid and is the one we make in our body! Guess what causes the body to make palmatic acid? High carbohydrate intake mainly from sugar and grains and low fat!
Trans Fats: In my opinion this is the worst type of fat you can eat. It drives down HDL cholesterol and increase inflammation. Not to mention it is normally derived from vegetables source and hydrogenated which increases the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio.
How fat got its bad reputation
A study was done back in the 1950s that found that cholesterol levels were increased in humans with consumption of fat. This was thought to causing heart disease. Back then we didn’t know that there was more than just cholesterol in our bodies. We know now that there are several types of cholesterol. The most popular being LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and HDL (High Density Lipoproteins). The LDL is supposed to be the bad cholesterol and HDL is supposed to be the good one. Both of these types of cholesterol are vital for normal healthy function. LDL Transports cholesterol to the liver which is turned into hormones. HDL unclogs arteries of unwanted build up of plaque. LDL is considered the bad cholesterol yet studies have found that there is no direct link between high LDL cholesterol and heart disease.
Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones in the liver. Hormones control most of the functions in our body. They affect mood, fat loss/fat gain, stress levels, reproductive processes and they are vital for normal function and health. Avoiding cholesterol by not eating animal fats or fat in general doesn’t seem like the best idea!
Fat is a naturally occurring macronutrient that is found in our natural environment. It comes back to evolution. We evolved to eat animal protein from beef, fish, kangaroos and livestock. We evolved eating food like avocado, and nuts which all contain very healthy fats, All of the above have very healthy fats for us to consume. If the animal is naturally raised or pastured for example grass fed beef or free range chicken it has a much healthier fat ratio as they eat their natural diet making their meat and fat much healthier when it gets to our plate.
Eating fat does not have a big effect on your blood sugar levels compared to sugar and/or grains. This means that you do not get an insulin response from eating fat. Insulin is the hormone that turns excess blood sugar into fat and also turns off your bodies own fat burning switch. Therefore eating fat means less insulin (compared to carbohydrates) which means more fat burning! So if you’re eating healthy fat you can eat fat to burn fat!
Another positive of eating fat is it is calorie dense. Now you might think this is a bad thing because too many calories make you fat, right? Tell that to the people out there who are eating less that 1000 calories a day and training endlessly at the gym yet are still obese?
If you’re eating healthy fat your body will be well sustained and will happily continue to use your own fat as fuel as well. Think of it as survival mechanism. If you sustain your body with natural fats and other natural foods, your body will think that there is plenty of food around and it will metabolise energy freely and keep you feeling good. If you restrict your calories and train frequently at the gym your body will think, ‘ok there is a famine (not eating enough) at the moment and I’m getting chased by a predator everyday (training at the gym etc). Your body will store any food you eat as fat (BAD), metabolise muscle for energy (BAD), and make you feel horrible therefore losing motivation and willpower(DOUBLE BAD)’.
Healthy fats are a very important part of your diet. My aim today was to enlighten you on the healthy fats and why they are good for you and shouldn’t be feared. Please let us know if you would like to see copies of the studies from this article.