I’m only eating foods with less than 30% calories from fat.
Thank you, Regina George, for pointing out the ridiculous, yet pervasive, notion that “fat makes you fat.“
In reality, fat is a super important macronutrient.*
*Check HERE for my article about another amazing macronutrient… carbs!*
Why do fats matter?
Aside from providing energy, aka calories, fat serves a variety of purposes throughout the normal functioning of our bodies.
The function that we as athletes and, more importantly, women should care about, is hormone regulation.
Fats help regulate hormones that control your blood pressure, inflammation, and blood clotting, to name a few.
As you read in “Carbs… an introduction”, many people believe there are “good carbs” and “bad carbs,” this belief, however, has been debunked.
Unsurprisingly, since the mid-70’s, the diet industry has convinced many individuals of that same idea, that there are “good fats” and “bad fats.”
So here’s the truth…
Fats are calorically equal but fall into 4 houses, each with individual traits and virtues.
These houses are:
- Monounsaturated (Hufflepuff)
- Polyunsaturated (Gryffindor)
- Saturated (Ravenclaw)
- Trans fats (Slytherin)
Monounsaturated fats, like Hufflepuffs, are often considered the “good” and “harmless” fats. They are found in seeds, nuts, and fruits like avocados. They can help lower cholesterol, fight weight gain, and play a significant role in reducing your body fat.
However, these fats are easy to eat which could mean bursting your caloric bubble real quick.
Polyunsaturated fats, i.e. the Gryffindors of fats, are found in salmon, soy, fish oil, flaxseed.
These are known as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
We need them for many functions, from building healthy cells to maintaining brain and nerve function. Unfortunately, the body does not have the ability to make them itself.
Luckily, they can be acquired by eating the above-mentioned foods or through supplements.
Saturated fats, the fun fats, are found in red meat, dairy, and eggs.
Sadly, saturated fats, much like Ravenclaws, often get a bad rap for their “links” to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. As with anything in life, moderation is key.
The truth is, in the right amounts, they are just as beneficial as the other fats (and houses).
The beauty of saturated fats is, without going into much detail, when combined with weight training, they can help your body produce the hormone responsible for burning fat and building muscle. Ya know, giving you that nice “toned” look.
Honestly, you’d have to eat like “Ron Swanson”of Parks and Rec to see the adverse effects of saturated fats.
Finally, there are trans fats. While some in the Slytherin house have fallen astray, not all are lost… but in the case of trans fats, these fats have fallen and should be avoided.
Commonly found in processed, pre-packaged, and fried foods, trans fats are extremely hard for your body to digest and have little to no nutritional value.
As a rule of thumb, if you scan a label and find “partially hydrogenated,” just say Expecto Patronum and GTFO!
So in terms of “good” vs “evil”, all fats have the same caloric value.
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
How many fats do YOU need?
Fats should make up about 15 – 35% of all calories you ingest.
I tend to lean toward the lighter side because fatty foods don’t appeal to me as much as carb-heavy foods do. I would suggest about 0.35 – 0.7 grams of fats per pound of lean body mass is a good range to stick to.
Aim towards the lower end if your goal is to maintain a calorie deficit for fat loss.
So, do fats make you fat?
The answer is a resounding… it depends.
If you’re taking in an extra 300-1000 calories from fats daily, they could definitely cause the scale to creep up.
However, with a balanced amount, fats will NOT make you fat.
Be mindful of the fact that your body needs fats to be it’s most efficient. Fats give us great skin, hair, and nails. They help lubricate our joints, balance our hormones, can help build muscle, and reduce body fat
So now you have an introductory guide to the recurring questions of what, why, and how many fats (and carbs and protein) you should be eating.
If you have any further questions about fats or carbs, shoot me an email or leave a comment below.
You are the best!