Fat Cheat Sheet

Unfortunately we’ve come to the end of the Macronutrient Cheat Sheet Series. Here, are parts one and two. The finale covers the most maligned macronutrient of all time, Fat. Choke back those tears, here we go!

What Role Do They Play In The Body?

“Why isn’t it obvious Andrew, they make you fat”. Not so fast little Johnny, that is a huge misconception. Let me lay down the facts. Or should I say, lay down the fats.

Some of the functions of Fat include:

  • Digestion of Vitamins – The likes of Vitamin’s A and D, for example, are referred to as fat-soluble. They require fat in order to be absorbed into the body. As a consequence, a lack of dietary fats can result in nutrient deficiencies.
  • Hormone Regulation – Certain fats are required in order to produce hormones.
  • Cell Structure – Fats help to form cell membranes, thus ensuring maintenance of cell integrity and optimal function.
  • Energy – Should there be a lack of carbohydrates, fats can be converted to energy.

Are There Different Types?

I’m glad you asked. There are four types of dietary fats:

  1. Saturated – These guys are solid at room temperature, an example of which is coconut oil.
  2. Trans – A process known as hydrogenation (making the oil easier to cook and less likely to spoil), produces this particular type of fat. These can be found in processed foods like chips.
  3. Monounsaturated – Think olives and nuts.
  4. Polyunsaturated – This includes fish and flax seed oil.

Are There ‘Good’ Fats and ‘Bad’ Fats?

This is where much of the confusion arises. Rather than categorising fats, many tend to bunch them together and label them collectively as ‘bad’.

When deciding if a Fat is healthy or unhealthy, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the product come from a whole food?
  • What is the degree to which the product is processed?

By answering these questions, it becomes clear that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the good guys (nuts for example undergo no processing and are a whole food), while saturated are slightly worse, and perhaps the most misunderstood. Finally, trans fats can be deemed the  baddies.

How Much Should I Eat?

Fats should make up approximately 30% of your dietary intake. Remember though that Fat has a higher caloric density compared to carbohydrates and protein (9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram). This means that total quantity should be considerably lower than the other macronutrients but certainly not non-existant.

Of this 30%, attempt to get the vast majority from whole food products like; seeds, nuts and avocado. Saturated fats should be obtained through dairy and meat (organic rather than factory farmed where possible) and should be consumed to a moderate degree. Trans fats should be kept to an absolute minimum.

When Should I Eat It?

As you’ve probably guessed, a portion with every meal works best. Fats help to ensure a feeling of fullness, much like protein, therefore reducing the likelihood of snacking.

The Skinny on Fats

That’s the end of that chapter! Keep it simple when it comes to Fats – try to get the bulk of your dietary fats from unprocessed, natural goods. As always, any comments or questions, feel free to leave below!

“It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat”

– Arnold Schwarzenegger

By Andrew Cammarano

 

References

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