Know what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to fat.
Fats are funny. We want to talk about them, but at the same time we don’t. It seems almost like a taboo subject. And for those of us looking to boost our gains, fats seem to just not be an option for us in our diet. But we need them and what a terrible disservice it would be to neglect them. Myths around fats circulate leaving us with doubt and uncertainty about the real truth surrounding this valuable macronutrient. But the truth is, we need it.
Like anything, fats are good to have in moderation. While there are some fats to include and make sure are in your diet, there are those fats to avoid and definitely not partake in, or at least only on rare occasion. With fats being essential for a host of bodily functions, we must not neglect fats and work to include them in our diet where they are necessary.
Let’s take a look at this guide to fats, and in particular healthy fats, so we know what to eat and what to avoid. On top of that, we will have the tools to better structure our diets to include this macronutrient that can do so much for our bodies.
Benefits Of Fat
Fats work to support our body and body systems to keep them operating at a high level. A great source of energy, fats can keep us moving throughout the day to include work, personal time, and of course, that vital workout.
With fat being our friend, the benefits of fats include:
- Provide energy: Although it may take a while in your body, fat can be converted into energy to give you that boost for your workout and everyday life.
- Support brain function: Fats can increase the production and release of neurotransmitters to better support your brain function (1).
- Better nutrient absorption: An essential part of absorption, fats can ensure you get all those nutrients into your body to be used effectively (2).
- Regulates body temperature and appetite: Fats can keep you full for longer and allow your body to find the right temperature to thrive at.
- Protects organs and creates cells: Can provide a physical cushion for protection of our organs and has properties to create cells we need.
Fats To Include In Your Diet
Saturated fats include things like organic oils and pasture-raised animal meat, as well as butter, cream, and cheese. With saturated fat being one of those victims of the fat myths, over time people have begun to realize that saturated fat may not be as bad for your cholesterol as originally thought. Plus, the quality of meat is higher, as well as those dairy products so if the source if reputable, then there should be no issues (3).
Including things like fatty fish, polyunsaturated fats are a great fat to include and serve as a home to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They can reduce LDL cholesterol levels and improve the overall profile to keep you more safe (4).
Monounsaturated fats include things like nuts and seeds and can improve cardiovascular risks like blood pressure and cholesterol, can help with insulin sensitivity, and may reduce inflammation. Along with polyunsaturated fat, these two round out the unsaturated fat family to work for our benefit.
Fat To Avoid In Your Diet
Artificial Trans Fat
Trans fat is made through a manufacturing process where hydrogen is added to vegetable oil which converts that liquid into a solid when at room temperature. Something to absolutely avoid if possible, trans fat can raise your LDL levels, putting you at risk of potential health issues. Unfortunately, trans fat is in those foods we love to eat, but finding ways to avoid eating them and switching to an alternative will serve you in the long run (5).
With a strict approach to avoiding them, if you take some of these steps, you may find it easier. Look to change your diet to reflect low-processed whole foods and when looking for your cooking oil, stick to those vegetable ones. For nutrition labels, looking for the amount of trans fat will give you the right guidance as to if the product is worth it or not.
Best Supplements To Include When Looking At Fat
Your supplements should reflect those goals of yours and when looking at fat, it is important to know which supplements will and will not work for you. Let’s start with protein powders and consider that for those looking for zero fat options, a whey isolate may be the way to go. However, the fat in these protein powders isn’t going to ruin your gains and if you are someone looking to bulk and are fine taking in some fats, then a whey concentrate or a plant-based powder may be right for you.
Another supplement to consider is a meal replacement. For those struggling to get whole food meals into their diet, perhaps because of an on-the-go schedule, a meal replacement can assist with this. Although high in all of the macronutrients, you are replacing a meal so it is something to keep in mind. And for those looking to optimize their health and wellness, an omega-3 supplement can improve your physical and mental health with all the benefits of a fatty acid supplement.
Fats are important and for so long certain myths surrounding fats has made us think twice about using them. But when it comes down to it, our bodies rely on fats for many vital bodily functions and neglecting them would be a terrible disservice. When looking to get the right amount of fats in your diet, and the right kind of fats, consider all options and dive into those foods you enjoy most for you will find a good approach so you see gains and optimize your overall health. Don’t let the fatty myths limit your overall gains.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine (2021). “Fat cells found to play a central role in cognitive decline and neurodegeneration”. (source)
- Goodman, B. (2010). “Insights into digestion and absorption of major nutrients in humans”. (source)
- Astrup, A.; et al. (2020). “Saturated Fat and Health: A Reassessment and Proposal for Food-Based Recommendations: JACC State-of-the-Art Review”. (source)
- Harvard Medical School (2019). “The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between”. (source)
- Dhaka, V.; et al. (2011). “Trans fats- sources, health risks and alternative approach – A review”. (source)