By Nigel Pearson
Most people believe fat in their diet is a massive ‘no no’ if you want to get lean, improve health and increase your performance. However, people are actually short changing their body of a vital nutrient if they try to eliminate fat from their diet, as fat has many important functions and can actually lead to a healthier body in the long run.
There are three different types of dietary fats and they are saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are often referred to as healthy fats. The difference between saturated and unsaturated fats lies in their structure.
Many people view saturated fat such as animal fats like steak, real butter or tropical oils such as coconut oil, as being a fat that should never be consumed so they opt for low fat milk and butter in the hope they’ll avoid it. By doing so, people consume too much saturated fat in comparison to unsaturated fats as they continue to eat processed food daily but not always in the form of carbohydrates. This imbalance of fats will eventually lead to health problems.
In addition, tropical oils usually appear as industrially refined, hydrogenated fats in processed foods, rather than in their native form. If you choose to consume these tropical oils, make sure they are unrefined.
Examples of mono saturated fats are olive oil, avocados, peanuts, pecans, almonds. Fish oils, flax and hemp would be examples of polyunsaturated fats. These fat types exert powerful effects within the body ranging from decreased inflammation (inflammation is the primary cause of heart disease), improved body composition and alleviates depression.
People are often concerned about excess dietary fat but not getting enough fat can also cause health problems. We need adequate fat to support metabolism, cell signalling, healthy body tissues, hormone production and the absorption of many nutrients, such as vitamins A and D. Having enough fat will also help you feel full between meals.
In summary, here are a few recommendations to follow on a daily basis. Consume foods rich in healthy fat including nuts, seeds, hemp, flax, chia, fish, seaweed, olives, whole eggs, avocado and coconut. Saturated fat should make up no more than 10% of total calories. Avoid industrially processed, artificially created and factory farmed foods such as corn oil, safflower oil, salad dressing and margarine. These contain unhealthy fats. Supplement these with 3-6g of fish oil daily unless you are on blood thinners or have heart rhythm disturbances.
At this point I hope you are convinced of the benefits offered by fat. The key is to have a balanced consumption of saturated fats and mono/poly unsaturated fats. If your fats are unbalanced then health problems will arise. Adhere to the recommendations above and benefits will follow.
Nigel Pearson, from Clonakenny, Roscrea is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Precision Nutritionist and can be contacted on 085 8122441