Understanding the World of Fats

Understanding the World of Fats

FAT: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

Recently, I attended the World’s Largest Health and Fitness Convention in Downtown Los Angeles called IDEA. I took part in many seminars and workshops but one of my favorites was a seminar called “Eat to Win” –Enhance your Performance and Promote Recovery taught by Christopher R Mohr, PhD, RD, and CSSD.  He really knew his stuff and actually works with the Cincinnati Bengals.  Much of the information provided by Chris I also agree with, but one thing I know for sure, is everyone says something different when it comes to Food and Supplements! Today though, I want to focus on one thing only…I want to really share with you one very confusing topic and that would be The World of Fats.
“But If I eat Fats won’t I just gain Fat?” If you have ever asked yourself this question, your are not alone.  Let me just tell you this…It is a very twisted way of thinking and could not be further from the truth.  Many people believe that fats, and even carbs, are the bad guys that ultimately pack on all the pounds. But that is not so, forget about ALL those diets from the past.  Just because you or someone you know lost weight on Atkins, or on a “No-Carb” Diet, or very “Low-Fat “diet does not mean really anything. It is all temporary!  Ask yourself if they have kept they weight off too. Interesting right? As chances are, they have not at all.

My simple advice is to:

  • Avoid Low-Fat or Fat-Free products, they will only make you hungry again.
  • Avoid 100 calorie snack packs-they will leave you hungry and they are usually full of garbage (unless it is a 100 calorie snack pack of full-fat, like nuts or a natural food.)
  • I also encourage you to up your intake of Omega 3’s and limit your intake of Omega 6’s (if you are eating too many of the bad kind; corn.)

Pay attention to the details:

You want to know what makes you fat? CALORIES! SUGAR! Consuming too many calories, sugar, refined carbs,  and eating POOR QUALITY fats and carbs will do you in.  The best way to look at Fat is there are healthy fats you want in your diet but remember to keep them in moderation. 
Here’s the lowdown on the different types of fats, how they affect your body, and more about why fats (and carbs) aren’t the enemy:

 

1. Trans Fat

Let’s start with the absolute disaster: Trans fat is man-made through a process called hydrogenation, which basically involves heating up vegetable oil in the presence of hydrogen gas and changing the structure so that the fat stays solid at room temperature but melts when heated. Trans fats raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and increase inflammation, among many other negative effects. And get this: Recent studies suggest that even if only 3 percent of your daily calories come from trans fats, you can end up raising your risk of heart disease by a whopping 23 percent. Trans fats are DEADLY. You should never EVER consume them!  READ LABELS: so common in breads, ice cream, tortillas, etc. Labeled usually as “partially hydrogenated oils.” You would be surprised at how many people do not know this, so LOOK OUT and check your labels.

2. Saturated Fat

This type of fat is derived from animal sources. You generally find it in meat, butter, and dairy products. Saturated fat has gotten a really bad reputation over the years because it raises LDL cholesterol, but it turns out that saturated fats also do good by elevating your HDL cholesterol. Since the effects of saturated fats on LDL and HDL appear to cancel each other out, researchers are starting to change their tune. Now, saturated fats are considered good in moderation. Also, animal proteins are no longer under suspicion for being the main culprits in raising cholesterol and increasing your risk of diabetes: Instead, it turns out that processed carbs (like Twinkies!) are to blame.

3. Monounsaturated Fat

This is pretty much hands-down a beneficial fat. Monounsaturated fat raises your HDL cholesterol and lowers your LDL, helping to reduce your risk of heart disease and other health conditions. Monounsaturated fats are also easier to burn, so they’re less likely to be stored as fat. Get your monounsaturated fats guilt-free but still in MODERATION, from healthy sources like extra-virgin olive oil, almonds, avocados, canola oil, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts and peanut oil, pecans, pistachios, and sesame oil.

4. Polyunsaturated Fat

Some of the polyunsaturated fats that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, like walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are really good for you. Though others, like corn, can create hormone-disrupting chemicals, or eicosanoids, that cause inflammation and damage your blood vessels. Polyunsaturated fats that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, like fish, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and tofu, are the best kind of fats you can possibly eat. Both omega-6s and omega-3s lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol, but they also lower your “good” HDL. What makes omega-3s extremely beneficial is that they also reduce inflammation, lower your risk of heart disease and heart attacks, and they’re believed to help combat many other conditions from diabetes to bipolar disorder. And like monounsaturated fats, they’re easy to burn, which makes them unlikely to stick around as stored fat.

We now know that fat is an important element of nutrition.

  • It is crucial for brain function.
  • Consuming fat is also essential for pregnant women because it is integral to fetal brain development.
  • Fat helps fortify cell membranes, and it insulates and helps protect your nerves.
  • Fat contributes to heart health, digestion, lung function, and even your eye health.
  • It provides a constant level of energy and enables your body to absorb more nutrients, including essential vitamins and antioxidants. (I will always drizzle some olive oil over my veggies/salads to help deliver the nutrients even better.)
  • Finally, fat makes food taste GOOD and helps us feel satiated. Just keep it in Moderation!

If you’re still confused about why you should be blaming calories and not a whole food group as your enemy in the battle of the bulge, think of it this way: Calories are a unit of energy and fat is a stored energy. If you eat too many calories of anything — whether it’s a good fat or a bad trans fat, a good carb or a refined carb — you’ll have a surplus of energy, so you’ll store it as fat and gain weight.

For even more tips read my post Muscle vs. Fat and Foods to Fuel your Workout and When to Eat.

Looking for healthy recipes? Make sure to visit www.monimeals.com.

IF YOU MAKE THE HEALTHY FOOD - PEOPLE WILL EAT IT!

See you on your next workout!

 

Monica Nelson is a personal trainer, chef, accomplished athlete, model and much loved health and fitness expert based in LA. She inspires her clients to look and feel their best with her life motto: EAT WELL, STAY FIT, FEEL GREAT.

One of her greatest passions is cooking and the talented Moni loves to whip up healthy and decadent meals for her readers to enjoy. On any given day you can find her being creative in the kitchen, training her clients in the park, at the beach, out for a bike ride or catching big air on her snowboard.

Make friends with Moni (@monimealfitness) on Twitter and Instagram. Grab a recipe or two at www.monimeals.com before you head over for a quick workout at www.monicanelsonfitness.com.

 

Love Monica Nelson

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not a Registered Dietitian. While my advice relies on my own personal experience and research, what has been successful for myself and others may be not best for you. You should always consult your doctor when making changes to your diet. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at monica@monicanelsonfitness.com.

4 Comment to “Understanding the World of Fats”

  1. Great post Monica! I’m a firm believer in fats… The healthy kinds of course 🙂

  2. Renae says:

    Thanks for such a great article on fats. I find it hard to break my thought cycle of fats are bad (from what I had learned during the low fat craze) and reading something like this helps reiterate the fact that they are not bad; the good ones are needed!

  3. Eunice says:

    Super interesting, everyone NEEDS to read and know that! Plus you make it super clear!!

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