The Low Down on Fats

Believe it or not, these are the good guys, you need fat in your diet, but here is the catch: there are good fats and bad fats. Keep in mind that 86% of the young-developing brain of a 6 year old is comprised of fat. As an adult, 60% of the brain and nervous system is made of fat. Gives new meaning to the phrase 'fat-head' doesn't it? In fact, there is a layer of fat protecting every cell in your body (the cell membrane).

A good fat will add years to your life, bad fat will make you pay for years. You may find it surprising to know that in the battle of the bulge you need to eat fat to burn fat. That’s right, if you are not getting enough fat in your diet you may find it hard to burn your dreaded fat stores too. That being said, you the reader must understand that there are many types and variations of fat. Let’s for now keep them down to just two types: the good and the bad fats.

There are two types of oil that can potentially cause a lot of harm; trans-fatty acids and hydrogenated fats. For instance, any oil that is hydrogenated is in fact a form of poison. This process takes oil and changes it's formation to a combination that is toxic to the liver. During the process of hydrogenation, the fat or oil is changed from a cis fatty acid to a trans-fatty acid. These fats are very harmful to your body and may cause degenerative brain diseases further in life.

Where do you find these troublemakers? The main culprits can be found in fast food and refined food sources. Just take a look in your cupboards. And take my advice, save the hydrogenated stuff for the in laws. The liver (the ultimate detoxifier of the body) tries to break these bad fats down and cannot. Try as it might, it cannot. Thus it enters something called a futile cycle and in turn the liver eventually dies trying to rid you of these oils. It is not hard to find these bad fats in the most common foods available in the western diet today.

Consider for a moment 9 years ago you ate a Big Mac, that fat is still alive and well today in your body. It will reside in all of your cells, tissues and central nervous system in various degrees. Therefore it is imperative that you put only the good fats into your body.

Think about this for a moment: Fat is one of the most essential nutrients for life. Every cell in your body whether it is bone, skin, vessel, hormone, blood cell or intestinal is coated and protected by two layers of fat. This is called a bi-lipid layer (Bi- meaning two, lipid- meaning fat), the function of this layer is to regulate and protect the cell from would be attackers. Think of the fat layer as 'call display' and the attacker as the 'unwanted calls'. A properly functioning fat will allow only the friendlies in and keep the unwanted calls out. Now hopefully you can see how important good fats are in maintaining health and proper metabolism in your body and mind.

My clients regularly ask me if a fat reduced diet is the one to use? Simply put, you need fat to survive. Ingest only the good fats. Good quality fats can be found in essential fatty acids like the omega 3, 6 and 9's. By the way, these are called ‘essential’ because they are essential or necessary for life, without them you die.
I particularly like flaxseed oil and Udo's Choice oil. Animal fats in moderation are acceptable as well as long as you are choosing lean cuts of meat, oily fish is superb. When cooking, use grape seed oil. It is one of the few oils that are stable at high temperatures. Many other oils such as flaxseed, canola, safflo, mazola oil, will become unstable and form a trans-fatty acids at high heat. I prefer butter to margarine, not only for taste but because I see margarine as a non-food, it is largely made of chemicals and polymers that the body will pay the price for in later years. It might surprise you to realize that the Canadian Heart Smart diet (advocating margarine) was funded by Becel, a dairy company who manufacture Flora.

I must stress that omega 3 is one of the most important oils out there and it is not readily available in our diet. These all-important fats cannot be manufactured or made by your body hence the term essential fatty acids. They are essential to life and you must put them in your diet daily. These essential fatty acids are famous for decreasing tissue inflammation, increasing brain function and immunity all the while staving off the risk of would be diseases.

The human body relies upon a basic requirement of healthy fats to perform needed quantitative and qualitative functions. The average human being depends upon twenty percent of daily calories to be counted for via healthy fats. These fats, once absorbed into the body, provide fuel for daily activities and normal body metabolism. They are necessary for hormone synthesis and are the essential component of all cells indeed. The reservoir of stored energy in an average adult allows 100,000 calories via fat to be in the body as insulation, cushioning, and protection of internal organs. The former functions stated are maintained in activity via the consummation of the proper fats and the biological break down they endure as they become smaller components known as fatty acids.

The specific chemical structure of a fatty acid determines the function to be done, and includes saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. The concentrated source of energy of each individual gram of any type of dietary fat is nine calories exactly. Monounsaturated fats are found in some vegetable oils including olive, peanut, and canola. The recommended intake of these Monounsaturated Fatty Acids is ten percent of the total daily calories. Polyunsaturated fats are found in some vegetable oils like the former including safflower, sunflower, and corn, as well as in fatty fish. The Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids provide linolenic and linoleic acid (both essential fatty acids that are not constructed via the body), thus the recommended intake is less than ten percent of the total daily calories. Saturated fats are the most harmful of the dietary fat family as they typically travel through our arteries depositing plaque and cholesterol, thus raising low density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol. These fats are found in most animal foods such as poultry, meat, and eggs, as well as full fat diary products, and most tropical oils. Due to the health hazards of this particular fatty acid, the daily intake should be no higher than five percent of the total daily calories.

The quantitative intake of the healthy fatty acids is to be kept in perspective and viewed as very important. Your diet should not consist of too little fat or too much fat. It takes three days for a metabolism to set to a new diet or to any changes made in a current one. If your body knows that it is not getting and/or will not be getting any or enough of the healthy fatty acids it will not allow any fat reserves to be utilized for energy; thus not allowing any changes regarding leanness to occur. Obviously if the body is given too much fat no changes can occur for a number of reasons. The healthy fats will take priority for energy use and if too many are consumed then the fat reserves never get used. If too much saturated fat is taken in the body will store it thus forming more fat reserves, as well as suffer from the above stated health hazards.

It is vital to learn how to read labels properly if you are to determine what type and what amount of fat that a food contains. This way you are able to monitor your daily fat intake each and every single day and be aware if you are eating healthy or bad fats.

Fat consumption is an essential part of your diet to which close attention must be paid, just as much attention as you do to protein consumption, because it plays a major role in regulating your metabolism, organ function and cell repair.

Your body can survive without carbohydrates but with no protein or essential fats you would eventually die.

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