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About Fat

About Fat

What is fat

Fat is an essential nutrient needed for both short term and long term energy for the body and should not be seen as your enemy. The body is actually meant to store fat and is the bodies preferred emergency energy storage backup system. Human are hunter gatherers and therefore food was not eaten on a regular daily schedule and so the need to store energy for those times when food was scares is the reason for fat storage. Of course we now have supermarkets and shops that allow us to buy and eat pretty much any type of food whenever we desire and we are not actually made that way, which is a problem facing modern society.

You should endeavour to add some good fat to each of your meals, especially if you are working out to gain muscle and even can beneficial for those trying to lose weight. One of the problems of not eating enough fat includes reduced testosterone levels, which can lead to lose of muscle. Some of the benefits of adding fat to a meal, include, slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates and managing insulin levels, which helps in reducing the fat storing capacity of carbohydrates. It also stops you going into starvation mode and helps with maintaining good cholesterol levels. It also helps with fat soluble vitamin absorption, as well as being beneficial for your joints and skin. The important thing to remember is eating the right type of fat and the right quantities. However eating too much in combination with your other macros can encourage your body to store it. You have to find the right balance.

What are dietary Fats?

Fats are very much a misunderstood micronutrient. There are several types of fat, some good, some bad, some that are both good and bad. Fats help the body carry out many processes, including the balance of good and bad cholesterol, which are required for you to live and can greatly help your health and even help with fat lose. You just have to know which fats are good for you and those that you need in moderation.

What dietary fats are there?

Unsaturated fat – the good fats (mostly):

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Also abbreviated to MUFA. These are liquid at room temperature and good for lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and keeping good cholesterol (HDL) levels. They are also good for helping fight against cardiovascular disease and providing anti-inflammatory properties. It also can help control insulin production. MUFA’s should make up the majority of your dietary fat intake.


Also abbreviated to PUFA. These are solid at room temperature and good for lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and provide other healthy nutrients for the body. These are also essential fatty acids (EFA) and as the name implies must be supplied to the body through our food in order for us to survive. The two EFA’s that need to come from food are Linoleic Acid and Alpha-Linolenic Acid, which create Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Omega 3

These are made up of several fatty acids, three of the most important ones are ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid) mostly from plant foods and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), with both mostly coming from animal fats. Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation, improve heart and cardiovascular function and reduce blood pressure.

Omega 6

These are made up of Linoleic Acid. Although Omega 6 is important to our bodies for things like skin and hair growth, bone health and lowering bad cholesterol, it also competes with omega 3 for enzymes………see below under confusing bad/good fats.

Medium Chain Triglycerides

Also abbreviated to MCTs. These are another dietary fat that is easily digested and used for energy by the body. They are an efficient energy source and their fast digestion means they are unlikely to be stored as body fat. There are many benefits to MCT including a potential to help fat loss, increase satiety and raise the metabolic rate. Adding these as an alternative fuel source to carbohydrates can help the body utilise fat for energy. Note that there are only 8.3 calories per gram of MCTs.

The confusing bad/good fats:

Polyunsaturated fats (as Omega 6)

What’s this?, you said they were in the good fats, well that’s because they are good and required by the body, but only in the right ratios/quantity against omega 3. The problem arises when you consume too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3 to balance it out. When omega 6 isn’t balanced out it can actually become a bad fat and increase inflammation and start to reverse the benefits associated with polyunsaturated fats. The main reason for increased omega 6 in the modern diet is due to cooking oils being used more often as it is more cost effective and seen in fast foods and processed foods more often and has led to increased health problems. If you are getting less omega 6 than omega 3 then you should be OK. Try to get more omega 3 in the diet than omega 6.

Saturated fats

These are solid at room temperature and are said to raise levels of LDL cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke (note: research has still not been 100% convincing with regards these widely regarded facts and in fact there is some evidence that LDL may actually help keep the immune system healthy, especially in older people). Also there are good parts to some types of LDL cholesterol and saturated fats can also increase the levels of HDL cholesterol and improve various functions in the body and so are required. Note that the consumption of excess simple carbohydrates and fats combined are the cause of obesity and many other health issues and many of the studies against saturated fat never allowed for this. A small amount of saturated fats should be included in your nutrition plan as they help remove fat cells from the liver, can help white blood cells fight viruses, increase testosterone and are required for other hormonal processes. Foods high in saturated fats include: butter, lard, cheese, creams, fatty meat, dairy, egg yolk, some oils?, however you must only consume the more healthy foods that contain saturated fats, that means lean meats, eggs, coconut oil and not processed/luncheon type meats, pizza, pasties etc.

The bad fats include:

Trans Fats

These are artificial fats that are processed and hydrogenated (hardened) or partially hydrogenated for cooking. They lower good HDL cholesterol and increase bad LDL cholesterol and are bad for your general health and associated with heart disease. They are found in many baked foods such as cakes and biscuits and also processed meats, dairy, fried food and hydrogenated vegetable oils.

So how much fat do I need?

How much fat you need to consume will depend on your body type and goals. Almost all of your dietary fat can easily be converted into body fat if you are in a positive calorie count and or you consume it with lots of sugary food. I would say most people need to take in roughly around 20-30% of your calories from fat, although calorie counting isn’t important, this is just a very rough idea of the percentage of this macro against your total nutrition plan.

For your information: There are 9 calories per gram of fat.

Good sources of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids:

  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Whole egg (egg yolks contain choline, a nutrient with powerful fat-burning properties)
  • Most nuts (almonds, hazelnut, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios and peanuts)
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds and sesame)
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Full fat milk
  • Various oils (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and sesame oil)

The following also have MCT:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil and palm kernel oil (watch for too much saturated fats with these however)
  • Cheese (very moderately)

Good sources of Omega 3:

  • Most nuts
  • Seeds (flaxseed and chia seeds)
  • Sea food (oily fish like mackerel, sardines, salmon, hearing and trout)
  • Plant oils

Good sources of Omega 6:

  • Most nuts
  • Seeds (flaxseed and chia seeds)
  • Plant oils

Fats to avoid:

  • Processed fats
  • Very fatty meats/luncheon meats
  • Fried food
  • Crisps
  • Biscuits
  • Pastries
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Margarine
  • Cream
  • Omega 3 and omega 6 in the wrong ratios
  • Anything with a label that says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated

Bottom line

You should aim to eat mostly healthy fats with each of your meals and the occasional saturated food item. They are essential to good health.

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