In this mini series of articles, I will be giving an overview of each of the three macronutrients that form the base of every balanced diet: protein, carbohydrates and fats. Each have an important role to play in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle so having some good nutrition know-how is the key to hitting your fitness goals.
1. What are fats?
Fats, also called lipids, are complex molecules with long tails of hydrocarbon chains. The structure of these chains determines whether the fat is saturated or unsaturated and consequently how they are digested and used by our bodies. Some polyunsaturated fatty acids are "essential" , for example Omega 3, and this means that they can't be made by our body and need to come from the foods we eat or by supplementation.
2. Does eating fat make you fat?
Absolutely not! Fat provides 9 calories per gram which makes it the most energy dense of all the macronutrients and eating even "small" size servings can still pack a hefty calorie punch. Fats should represent 20-35% of your total daily calories. However, weight loss and weight gain is based on your overall energy balance i.e. the calories you eat and the calories you burn. Therefore decreasing the amount of fat in your diet is an effective way to decrease your total calorie intake but it is not the only factor to consider.
3. What are the best sources of fat?
Saturated fats found in meat, dairy and processed foods should be minimised; The healthiest sources of unsaturated fats come from whole foods like egg yolks, nuts, oily fish and avocado and these can contribute to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. As always, enjoy each in moderation.
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Mozaffarian, D., Micha, R. and Wallace S. (2010). 'Effects on coronary heart disease of increasing polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials', Public Library of Science [Online]. Available at: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000252 (Accessed: 12 June 2017).
Shepherd, J., Packard, C. J., Grundy, S. M., Yehurun, D., Gotto Jr, A. M. and Taunton, O. D. (1980). 'Effects of saturated and polyunsaturated fat diets on the chemical composition and metabolism f low density lipoproteins in man', The Journal of Lipid Research, 21, pp. 91-99.