Part 2- Fats

Fats were once arguably the most criticised and almost demonised macronutrient. Because the majority of our clients goals are centred around reducing body fat there already is a negative stigma around just the word fat. We are wanting to lose fat, so why would you eat more of it? Some objections we hear:

“Fat makes you fat”

“Fat is the devil”

These and a whole host of Macro Myths surrounding Fat are not true. It is easy to forgive people who have a negative feeling towards consuming fats when “diet foods” in shops across the world offer thousands of low-Fat products & fat-free products. Added to this, fats coverage in the media both past and present leads people to wrongly assume that we need to remove fat from our diets. You can gain body fat from having a hyper caloric diet which is eating more calories than your body needs. This over consumption will cause your body to store fat rather than burn it. This chronic over feeding will undoubtedly increase your body fat. But that does mean it is the consumption of fat that is doing this.

Do we have to eat less fat?

In most cases, yes….Why? Fats yield 9 calories per gram compared to protein and carbs containing 4 calories per gram and as we know to lose body fat we need to be in a calorie deficit

Do I need to eat fat? Yes! we need essential fatty acids which the body cannot make itself. These are essential for bodily functions such as regulating hormonal production, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and maintaining cell membrane health.


Types of Fat:-

Saturated Fat

According to the British Heart Foundation eating a diet high in saturated fat is associated with raised levels of non-HDL (bad) cholesterol. This is linked to an increased risk of heart and circulatory disease. That’s why official recommendations emphasise the importance of reducing saturated fat in our diets. 

All fat sources contain a mixture of all three fats so its almost impossible to totally remove but in our opinion if you have a balance of fats in your diet, control your calories and exercise regularly the risks are minimal. Chronic overeating can cause a multitude of issues. Most saturated food sources come from animal products like meats, eggs, butter and some plant sources like coconut oil.


Monounsaturated Fat

Sources of these fats come from olive oil, nuts & nut butters, avocado and seeds and they help protect our hearts by maintaining levels of good HDL cholesterol while reducing levels of bad LDL cholesterol. These sources can be very easy to over eat and this is where – if your goal is to reduce body fat – you need to pay attention to quantities. 


Polyunsaturated Fat

The body cannot produce some of these polyunsaturated fats. Two major types of these fats are Omega-3 and Omega-6 which are essential fatty acids (EFAs) and must be included in you nutrition regime. 

Omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oils, such as: rapeseed, corn, sunflower and some nuts. Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish, such as: kippers, herring, trout, sardines, salmon and mackerel. Most of us get enough omega-6 in our diet, but we’re advised to have more omega-3 by eating at least 2 portions of fish a week, including 1 portion of oily fish. Vegetable sources of omega-3 fats are not thought to have the same benefits on heart health as those found in fish. This is where supplementation can play an important role for health benefits. The research around fish oils is vast and some benefits include reduced risk of heart disease, reduction in joint and muscle pain and improved cognitive function. 


Trans fats

Any processed foods (‘man-made’) are difficult for the body to efficiently breakdown and this is why we suggest and recommend basing a diet around whole foods. Trans fats are used for a host of reasons such as extending the shelf life of a product. However this comes at a cost of health issues. The government recommends that adults should not have more than 5g of trans fats a day. Trans fats can also be found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hydrogenated vegetable oil must be declared on a food’s ingredients list if present. Like saturated fats, trans fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood.


What is the right number?

We would be lying if we knew because everyone is different. This is why we take a tailored approach to our clients that evolves and grows. It is not a “one size fits all” approach. There will be consistencies that pertain from client to client, but through consistent monitoring and adapting through trial and error we can best determine our recommendations for a clients progress.


Article written by Greg Burns

Personal Trainer London


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