Can Fats Be Healthy?
Let’s talk about Fats. Contrary to what we’ve been taught to think it is over the past decade, Fat is not something to avoid. In fact, fat is actually healthy and good for your body – even those of you with weight loss goals. Fat is one of the three main macronutrients that our body requires for fuel and energy. Just like carbohydrates, fats often get a bad reputation. Fat simply does not make you fat. Healthy fats are essential and crucial for our bodies to function 100%. We need fat to survive as it provides an energy source, helps make and balance our hormones, forms our cell membranes, forms our brain and nervous system, transports vitamins, and provides essential fatty acid the body can’t make itself. It can also be said that a diet rich in fat provides for healthy skin and hair. That entire list on it’s own should give you plenty of reason to believe that fats are good for us since they are essential to life. Since the body can’t make essential fatty acids on it’s own, we must ingest them by way of food.
Since fat contains 9 calories per gram, it’s the most calorie-dense of the three macronutrients. Fat is also another energy source (aside from carbohydrates) in addition to it being a macronutrient that helps us to feel satiated. That feeling of fullness comes in handy for those on a calorie-restricted diet. Most individuals require a diet that reflects 20-40% fat with the average being 30%. In order to determine this number for yourself, you must decide what amount of calories will come from fat (i.e. total daily calories then 30% from which will reflect fat). Then, divide by 9 since there are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat. That number will be your total number in grams required daily.
Healthy fats are all around us and come in a wide variety for cooking or snacking. You can seek out sources of animal proteins such as red meats and pork which tend to have a higher fat content, or natural sources such as avocado or coconut oil, seeds, nuts, and some dairy (milk, cheese, etc.). Since not all fats are considered healthy or created “equal,” it’s a good idea to balance 1/3 of your fats between each of the three types of fat: saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. A balance between all three is recommended for health, body composition and optimal performance.
Although these ratios seem intimidating at first, rather than focusing on them individually, do your best to balance out your diet by seeking sources from healthy monounsaturated fats (some nuts and avocados, avocado oil) and polyunsaturated fats (fish oil, chia seeds, flax, safflower oil). By adding these two to your diet already rich in fruits and veggies along with lean proteins, your dietary fat intake should balance out right.