We have different types of fats, for example saturated and unsaturated fats, how much should you be eating, and which fats should you avoid?
Fat is made up of the same components as carbohydrate and protein. Those components are hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. However these elements are combined differently than in other forms of nutrients to give them a different structure which makes fat more energy dense. Fat is more dense than other nutrients and it contains around twice the amount of calories per gram as protein and carbohydrates, so basically eating too much fat could make us fat.
Not all body fat is a negative thing, a few of the benefits of body fat is outlined below.
What are the benefits and functions of fat?
- Fats in the body help to protect and cushion the organs in our bodies, so not enough body fat could potentially harm our health.
- Fat provides energy reserves, commonly known as body fat. Whenever we exercise we use both energy from the food that we have consumed, as well as fat that our body has stored (body fat) which makes fat essential for energy and performance.
- Body fat also helps us to keep warm in colder temperatures.
What fats are good and what fats are bad?
Saturated and trans fats are the bad ones, saturated fat can increase cholesterol which increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and various other health problems.
Trans fat is a chemically created fat designed to prolong the sell by date of certain foods, mainly found in processed meat products and also margarine. Trans fats should ideally be avoided, certainly reduced.
We should look for foods that contain unsaturated fat instead. Unsaturated fat can actually reduce cholesterol, and most of us should be eating more of it.
Some fat in our diet is actually recommended as it provides some necessary functions and benefits to the body, such as providing us with energy, essential acids and helping to absorb certain nutrients.
Example foods which contain saturated fat
- Red Meats
- Egg yolks
- Processed meats
- Some cakes, biscuits and chocolate.
- Creams, including ice cream
Example foods which contain unsaturated fat
- Nuts and seeds
- Certain fish
- Certain fruits and vegetables
Even for a professional bodybuilder with a very low body fat percentage, their diet balance will still be around 15 – 25 percent fat. Fat intake should be controlled and limited especially saturated and trans fats.
However keep in mind that fat is a very important part of our diet and not consuming enough will hinder our fitness and muscle building goals and even our health.
So how much fat should you be eating?
About 30 – 40 percent of our daily intake should be made up of fats with a healthy balance between unsaturated and saturated fats.