In the previous 2 articles, we discussed the best pre-workout foods and best post-workout foods with particular emphasis on protein. Now we all know that protein is only one third of the important macronutrients that is essential to supporting muscle recovery and growth in the body, and it is particularly important for athletes who engage in frequently applying controlled stress to their body. However, fat is also a valuable and essential nutrient to the body, despite the onslaught of negative criticism. So the question persists, is fat really bad for you?

Today we discuss, arguably, the second most important macronutrient required to nourish a healthy body, fat! We also debunk some myths surrounding fat, such as its it really bad for you? We also provide a list of healthy fats that you can incorporate into any diet.

What is Fat?

Fat is a macronutrient required in the body; without it we could not function. Fat provides us with nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E and K, and also acts as an energy source (1g fat = 9kcal energy) to support normal daily functioning and helps power us through workouts. Lipids also increases food satiety with the likes of eggs, coconut oil and nuts all decreasing appetite and increasing the feeling of fullness for longer.

Nuts, unsaturated fat, list of healthy fats

Types of Fat

Fats come in 2 phases, solid and liquid. Solids include butter, lard, nuts, fatty meat and cream while liquid forms include oils.

Fat is also known as a lipid, which includes both liquid and solid states. It can also be categorised based on the type of fat.

Saturated fat:

Excessive intake of saturated fat is associated with elevated cholesterol levels and an increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Foods high in unsaturated fat include fatty meat, dairy products, cake, biscuits, butter. Saturated fat intake should be restricted to 10% of your total calorie intake; for example: a person on a 2000kcal diet should consume no more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 20g saturated fat per day.

Trans fat:

Also known as trans fatty acids, these are synthetically made fats, meaning they do not occur naturally. Often considered one of the worst fats, trans fats don’t contribute to a healthy lifestyle and are not required to maintain a healthy body. Unfortunately, due to their cheap cost and ease of use, trans fats are becoming increasingly prevalent in foods. Adverse effects have been observed from consumption of trans fats including a 3-fold increase in the risk of developing strokes and cardiovascular diseases. Identifying trans fats in foods can be achieved by determining if partially hydrogenated oils are included in the nutritional label. Sources of trans fats includes fried food, fries, pizza dough, pastries, cake, margarine and takeaways.


Burger and chips, trans fatty acids, unhealthy fat

Triglycerides:

These are a type of fat found in the blood. They occur when fat available in the body has not been used, any fats that have not been consumed by burning calories are immediately transformed into triglycerides. This energy is then released during meals. Regular consumption of excess fat can lead to high levels of triglycerides present in the fat cells of the body. Triglycerides are associated with hardening of the arteries, leading to increased blood pressure, increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Doctors can perform a routine blood test to determine if you levels fall within the healthy range. Lifestyle choices such as engaging in regular exercise, choosing to eat healthier fats, reducing refined carbohydrates and alcohol in the diet can contribute to a normal level of triglycerides in the body.

Unsaturated fat: These can be categorised into monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.

Monounsaturated fat:

This type of fat has been associated with increasing the levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) while reducing bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) levels. It can be obtained from avocados, peanuts and various oils including olive oil and sunflower oil. High-oleic foods are ones with particularly high source of monounsaturated fat. This is why many nutritional plans created for people, whether on a weight loss nutrition plan or weight training nutrition plan, include these types of fat. Additionally, the Mediterranean diet has been highly acclaimed for various health benefits, including reduction in chronic diseases such as heart disease, even though it is high in healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats. Despite these benefits, it’s still a high-calorie food and consumption of monounsaturated fat needs to be monitored. Additionally, health benefits may not be observed if saturated fat intake is not reduced. Surprisingly, there is no recommended daily allowance for monounsaturated fats.

Mashed Avocado. Healthy fats, Monounsaturated fat

Polyunsaturated fat:

Another member of the unsaturated fats list is polyunsaturated fat. It is considered an essential fat, meaning that they are required for normal healthy bodily functioning though the body cannot produce them. As a result, the body must obtain essential fats from food sources. Polyunsaturated fats include both omega 3 and omega 6, which can offer excellent health benefits, such as lowering blood cholesterol levels, cell development and there have also been links between omega 3 and arthritis reduction, reduced joint pain and treatment for some dermatological diseases. Omega 6 has been linked with promoting healthy skin, hair and bones. Again, no recommended daily allowance limits have been established for polyunsaturated fats. Regardless of this, the best approach to adopt is to obtain most of your fat intake from these healthy fats as opposed to foods high in saturated fat and trans fats.

Summary

  • Fats are an important constituent in any diet; some fats are healthy, others are not so healthy.
  • Lipids enhance satiety levels and have been shown to regulate food intake
  • Healthy fats, such as saturated fats, should constitute any healthy nutritional plan, regardless of end goals (weight loss, strength or endurance).
  • Saturated fats and in particular, trans fatty acids, should be consumed in minimal quantities.
  • Even though monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats do not have a recommended daily allowance, the emphasis should be to replace as much trans fat and saturated fat in the diet with these healthy fats.

Healthy Fats List

Monounsaturated fat: Nuts, avocado, sunflower oil, olive oil, peanut butter, any high-oleic oils (e.g. high-oleic sunflower oil)

Polyunsaturated fat:

Omega 3: Fish oil, tuna, salmon, mackerel, olive oil, chia seeds, soy beans

Omega 6: Sunflower oil, peanuts, grape seeds, avocado oil, walnuts

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Salmon, omega 3. Photo by kayleigh harrington on Unsplash

Sources

Harvard Health. (2019). The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between – Harvard Health. [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].

Mayo Clinic. (2018). Can triglycerides affect my heart health?. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186 [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].

Montmayeur JP, le Coutre J. (2010). Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2010. Chapter 15.

Newman, T. (2017). Types of fat: The good and the bad. [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/141442.php [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].

Newman, T. (2017). What are fats?. [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/qa/what-are-fats [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].

Referenceintakes.eu. (2014). RI Values – Reference Intakes. [online] Available at: https://referenceintakes.eu/reference-values.html [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].

Palsdottir, H. (2016). 15 Foods That Are Incredibly Filling. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-incredibly-filling-foods#section14 [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].

Szalay, J. (2015). What Is Dietary Fat?. [online] livescience.com. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/53145-dietary-fat.html [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].

Categories: Blogs

22 Comments

  • Daniela · 20/01/2020 at 8:35 AM

    Hey there, again, it is so important to know that certain fats are essential for a healthy functioning body , and you explained that so well! In today`s world of everybody wanting to be skinny and people jumping from diet to diet, they all lose track of what is really important, and that is to stay healthy and fit!

      Sharon · 20/01/2020 at 8:36 PM

      Hi Daniela,

      That is so true! Fats and carbohydrates are frequently subject to negative comments and the concern is that people consequently don’t follow a balanced diet, of which fat is a major constituent of!

      Best wishes,
      Sharon 🙂

    S · 24/02/2020 at 6:30 PM

    Wow, this is a great easy to read post on fats. I appreciate you dispelling some of the myths and helping me to understand the difference between what is considered good (healthy) and what is not. Didn’t realize that fat in the right form was essential for health and their sources. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I like the sources on the Healthy Fats List. Great job looking for more of your posts.

      Sharon · 25/02/2020 at 6:10 PM

      Hello,

      Thank you very much! It can be a minefield trying to navigate broscience and what is actually fact! Have a look at some of my other posts if you’re interested in getting to know more about nutrition!

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    Jordan · 24/02/2020 at 6:49 PM

    Great article! I really like how you defined and gave examples of each type of fat. You mentioned how there’s no recommended daily allowance for unsaturated fats. That got me wondering about something, and I’d love to get your opinion…

    How much difference do you think it makes if a person consumes an acceptable proportion of healthy (and unhealthy) fats when averaged over, say, a week, but the proportions on a daily basis probably are too high or low? I’m asking because I find that I don’t eat very many unsaturated fats on a daily basis, but over the course of a week I make up for it (e.g., instead of eating 1/4 of an avocado every day, I might have a bunch of guacamole on Saturday).

    I hope that makes sense – thanks!
    Jordan

      Sharon · 25/02/2020 at 7:33 PM

      Hi Jordan,

      You sound as if you’re leaning towards fat cycling (similar to carb cycling – which would be the more popular/known dietary approach adopted by athletes). It somewhat depends on your goals. From your post, I don’t know if you’re looking to gain/lose or simply maintain weight. Additionally, the impact of fats on training v non-training days would be something that needs to be considered from an energy perspective. Ideally, you would consume a minimal quantity of fat daily and not completely eradicate it and splurge on weekends.

      Hope this helps,
      Sharon

    Manuela · 25/02/2020 at 7:34 PM

    I have always known that health fats are necessary in our diet, but I really appreciate this post and the very comprehensive explanations of each type of fat. I definitely learnt something new today.

      Sharon · 25/02/2020 at 8:24 PM

      Hi Manuela,

      Delighted to hear that and thank you for your kind words!

      Sharon

    David · 26/02/2020 at 6:56 PM

    Hi Sharon. Great post, right on the mark. Looking forward to your next post.

    Dave

      Sharon · 26/02/2020 at 9:12 PM

      Hi Dave,

      Thank you! I’m hoping to push the next post through shortly, so keep your eyes peeled!

      Sharon

    michael · 26/02/2020 at 7:26 PM

    Thank you for this article on fats it has explained clearly between good fats and bad fats the layout of your page is great and the way you show some foods to be good and the other types that have the bad fat at a scale of 1 to 10 I give it an 8 good job

      Sharon · 26/02/2020 at 9:11 PM

      Hi Michael,

      Clarity and conciseness is what I aim for. Thanks for taking the time to check out my page.

      Sharon

    Jeff · 26/02/2020 at 8:09 PM

    This article is full of valuable information we all need to learn and know to stay healthy, I have learned so much about fat I never knew before reading this article.

    How are some ways to add olive oil into my diet plan, I do use it on my salads but are there any other ways I use this with my other meals?

    Jeff

      Sharon · 26/02/2020 at 9:03 PM

      Hi Jeff,

      I’m delighted to hear the post has been of value to you!

      You can use olive oil in various ways, e.g. as a starter and dip bread in it or use it to cook your food in. You could also drizzle it over pasta/vegetables or use it as a marinade. Hope these suggestions are something you’d consider!

      Let me know if I can be of more assistance,
      Sharon

    Natalie · 27/02/2020 at 1:53 AM

    Hey there,

    I’ve just started calculating my macros this year with my Lifesum app (I aim for my diet to be a third carbs, a third fat, and a third protein.) I’ve been feeling a little unclear on fat, what is healthy and what is not so thank you so much for clarifying this for me! It really helps in the re-education process in terms of telling myself that the right kind of fat is good, as I think for ages I had it in my mind to just stay away from it. What kind of fat does nut butter tend to come under? Thanks so much in advance 🙂

      Sharon · 27/02/2020 at 7:31 PM

      Hi Natalie,

      Yes, many people fear that fat is evil/bad when in fact it is a crucial nutrient for the body to function properly. It sounds as if you’re getting more into your nutrition by using the app, it can be a great way to track what you’re eating and also serves as a measure of accountability. Nut butter typically falls under monounsaturated fat.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    edgar · 27/02/2020 at 1:56 AM

    Great article about the many types of fats. People who wants to go on a balanced diet and/or losing weight will benefit from these information.

    Keep up the good work!

    Edgar

      Sharon · 27/02/2020 at 7:33 PM

      Hi Edgar,

      I certainly hope so, I hope the article was of interest and benefit to you!

      Sharon

    JoAnne · 27/02/2020 at 2:34 AM

    I love fat, although I know that some are not good for you, I was not sure which ones.

    Thank you or this, I might need to reaccess the fats that I do consume as being healthy is a priority for me.

    Cheers for this
    Jo

      Sharon · 27/02/2020 at 7:35 PM

      Hi Jo,

      I also love fat, especially peanut butter! That’s a good idea, there’s plenty of apps out there that can help you track the fat macros if you have trouble doing it!

      Sharon

    Hori Wiringi · 27/02/2020 at 3:18 AM

    Thanks for the article. It cleared up some misunderstandings I had regarding fat. Exercise has always been important to me (not to be an athlete or SuperHero, just for the sake of mobility, feeling good and spending quality time with family) and I love fat in the form of butter, olive oil and fatty meat. I thought this might be a bad habit but I get the idea that it’s better than takeaways and all that bad fat, so thanks.

      Sharon · 27/02/2020 at 7:36 PM

      No problem!

      Glad you enjoyed it and it helped improve your knowledge on fats! Unfortunately many people err towards the unhealthy fats all too often which is probably one of the reasons such a large proportion of the world is overweight.

      Sharon

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *