Think all fat is bad for you? Think again.
Your body needs some fat from food and good fats are essential for a healthy, balanced diet. Healthy fats are encouraged in your diet, and you should aim to intake around 40-60 grams per day depending on your overall goal and carbohydrate intake. When planning your nutrition, if you’re eating a higher percentage of carbs, cut down on your fats and vice versa to keep your calories on target.
An alternative source of fuel to carbs, fats help regulate certain hormones in the body and aid absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. If you’re tracking your calories on a weight loss programme, be careful to limit your intake of fat. This is because fat equals 9 calories per 1 gram, which is more than double the amount that both protein and carbs yield.
There are a number of different types of dietary fat that we get from our diet, let’s take a look at them…
High in omega-3 and omega-6, polyunsaturated fats are a type of healthy fat essential in your diet. Predominately found in oily fish like salmon, grass fed dairy and some seeds and nuts, omega-3 is made up of 2 fatty acids called EPA and DHA which play important roles in your body.
Another type of dietary fat needed to help with the absorption of vitamins and minerals are saturated fats. Although it gets a bad rep in the media, saturated fats are also essential to produce some levels of cholesterol, needed for hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Saturated fats can be found in fatty cuts of meat.
It’s important to keep in mind that a diet very high in saturated fat can lead to health implications later on in life, as too much of the bad cholesterol can block up arteries and cause various other problems.
Equally as important as polyunsaturated, monounsaturated fats are made up of omega-7 and omega-9 which boost cellular heath and help improve blood sugar control. You can get these fats from foods like avocados and olives.
Lastly, the type of fat we want to avoid or limit as much as possible is called hydrogenated fats, including trans fats and preservatives. These are usually found in pastries, frozen junk food, processed snacks, or anything that can be added to food to increase its shelf life. This can wreak havoc with our bodies, especially when consumed in large quantities.
Measure the fats you’re consuming
Fats are easy to overeat, so be mindful each time you’re prepping meals. Overeating fats can be the difference between a flat or heaped teaspoon of nut butter, overpouring olive oil when cooking or even your idea of a handful of nuts vs. mine. Try to weigh or measure fats out before eating or drinking and it’ll help you stick to your calories. Depending on your nutrition plan, it’s also best to try and keep your fats and carbs in separate meals.
Guilty for weight gain, clogged arteries and increased risk of certain health diseases, try to avoid bad fats such as artificial trans fat and saturated fats.
Here’s some examples of bad fats to limit in your diet…
- Vegetable oil
- Fried foods
- Shop-bought pastries, cakes, donuts
- Processed snacks
Healthy fats include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are good for your heart, cholesterol and overall health.
Get these good fats in your diet…
- Coconut oil
- Nut butters
- Good quality olive oil