Learn The Fats of Life!
Fat has a really bad reputation! But does it deserve it?
Did you know fat is actually essential for the healthy body. As with most things in life it’s about finding that balance.
Fat can be divided into two main groups - saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated fat is generally solid at room temperature and is usually from animal sources. It's found in lard, butter, hard margarine, cheese, whole milk and anything that contains these ingredients, such as cakes, chocolate, biscuits, pies and pastries.
Unsaturated fat is usually liquid at room temperature and generally comes from vegetable sources. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are both included in this group. Unsaturated vegetable oils are generally a healthier alternative to saturated fat and can be found in sesame, sunflower, soya, olive and rapeseed oil, soft margarine and in foods such as oily fish, including mackerel, sardines, pilchards and salmon. Where possible, you should ensure the fat you eat is unsaturated.
Why are Fats so Important
- Fat is a source of energy. The body uses two main fuels for energy: carbohydrates and fats. The energy is obtained by changing carbohydrates to sugar (called blood sugar or glucose) and fats to fatty acids. However, fats can provide more than twice the energy of sugar.
- Absorption and utilisation of vitamins A, D, E, and K are also highly dependent upon fats. It supplies essential nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids (EFAs)
- Fat can improve the flavour of foods
- It cushions and protects internal organs
So, what are the good fats and which ones should you avoid?
Fat sources that primarily feature monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are generally viewed as being good. These fats tend to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol and/or raise HDL or “good” cholesterol. Common monounsaturated sources include: olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Common polyunsaturated sources include: corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, walnuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, and fatty fish.
Common saturated fat sources include meat and dairy products. You can cut back on saturated fat intake by choosing low-fat and non-fat dairy foods and lean cuts of meat.
For the most part, trans fats are manmade through the hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils. Trans fats can be found in fried foods; solid fats like stick margarine and partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening; baked goods like cookies, biscuits, cakes, muffins, and crackers; snack foods like crisps and sweets.
How to Help my Training
- The goal is to make smarter, healthier food choices that will help you achieve your full athletic potential and help keep you healthy. Rather than avoiding fat in your diet, replace unhealthy fats with the healthy variety, and control your overall fat intake to keep calories in balance.
- Use plant-based oils for cooking and baking. Olive oil and other plant-based oils are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
- Steer clear of trans fats.
- Choose lean cuts of meat and low-fat or non-fat dairy products.
- Eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week.
- Limit your intake of deep-fried foods and ask for sauces and gravies on the side so you can better control your intake of calories from fat.
- Follow these simple rules and you can still “Take Fat and Party”!