Dietary fat has gotten a bad rap over the last several decades due to some speculative links between dietary fat intake and increased risk of heart disease. Fortunately, however, recent research has shown healthy fat is a key part of overall health and athletic performance. As a matter of fact, fat when metabolized in the body, provides double the energy of carbohydrates and protein.
Dietary fat has four important roles:
1. Regulate hormone function. For example, epinephrine, norepinephrine, glucagon, and growth hormone are released during exercise with the specific task of carrying the message to your fat cells that energy transfer is needed in the muscle.
2. Help transport certain vitamins and minerals in the body. For example, vitamins A,D, E, and K rely on fat in food to be properly absorbed in the intestines.
3. Provide the structure of the plasma membrane of the cell. Without proper cell structure, our cells can not function properly.
4. Act as the largest fuel depot in the body. There are nine calories, a measure of energy in food, in each gram of fat and only four per gram of carb or protein.
A balanced diet is important
Clearly, healthy dietary fat is an essential part of a balanced diet. There are two mains points to consider in regards to fat consumption::
1. Quality. Not all fats are created equal. Saturated fats such as coconut oil, grass fed animal fats such as butter and lard, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and small amounts of nuts are a beneficial addition to a well balanced meal. Stay away from trans-fats such as margarine, buttery spread, “vegetable” oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, canola, and cottonseed.
2. Quantity. As mentioned above, dietary fats are much more dense calorie wise than carbs and protein. All three macro-nutrients combined form a perfect meal. Knowing your body, eating habits and fitness goals are important for determining the quantity of dietary fats to be consumed. One key to remember, calorie intake must be relative to energy expended. If you exercise, your body will burn more calories therefore requiring more caloric consumption.
Over the last decade, science has disproved the myth “fat makes you fat”. Instead, research has proven the body NEEDS healthy fat. Many necessary bodily processes rely on fat, more specifically, dietary fat, for cellular function, hormone balance, and absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.
Coach’s Tip: Add avocado to any meal for healthy fat. Here is my family approved recipe for guacamole. Enjoy!
- Haas Avocado (Mashed with a fork)
- Sea Salt to taste
- Cumin to taste
- Cilantro chopped (fresh)
- Lime juice (squeeze by hand)
- Optional: Finely chopped tomato
For support, accountability or answers to your health questions, feel free to reach out to Coach Sarah for a No Sweat Intro! Call 813.966.0930 today!