The skinny on fat

Will fat make me fat?

The short answer... no.

However, like any food, overeating will cause you to gain weight.

Fats hold the most calories per gram of the 3 macronutrients (discussed in more detail in this post here) at 9 calories per gram. Foods higher in fat also tend to be quite tasty and are therefore perhaps a little easier to overeat. But that doesn't mean you should cut them from your diet, fats are not evil; in fact, quite the opposite we need good fats in our diet.

Why do we need fat?

Fat provides us with energy, in fact, it's the body's main source of energy, without fats we wouldn't be able to absorb most vitamins (A,D,E & K), plus it's tasty!

When we break down food, we produce fatty acids. They keep our skin healthy and glowing, prevent early ageing, help prevent cholesterol build up in the arteries AND they can help with weight loss.

Wait... what's that? FAT can help with weight loss?

Yep, you read it right. Fats help the body to process cholesterol which can promote weight loss, plus they regulate weight by assisting the efficient function of the adrenal and thyroid[1] glands.

But saturated fat is evil, right?

You would think so. After all, the official advice from the government for many years has been to avoid saturated fat, found in:

  • butter
  • eggs
  • meats
  • full fat dairy
  • coconut oil and palm oil
  • dark chocolate

However, this has never actually beeb proven[2] and many recent studies[3] indicate that for the general population, these fats are not the contributors to heart disease that we once thought. Certainly, unless you have been medically advised not to, it's worth including a small amount of saturated fats because they offer benefits to your immune system and liver function.

The real evil...

Unfortunately, one fat which has avoided a food asbo due to the focus on saturated fats is trans fats. These really are a problem and there are many studies which make a link with tans fatty aside and an increase in bad cholesterol, a decrease in good cholesterol as well as many other diseases.

It's an unfortunate case that trans fats are very present in our modern diet as they are in many of the convenience foods that we eat:

  • margarine products
  • pre-packaged biscuits
  • pre-packaged cakes
  • take away food
  • ready-made pies and pastry products
  • processed ready meals
  • pre-packaged processed food products

Needless to say, if you're looking to improve your health (and lose fat), it's cutting out these foods which will make the biggest difference.

And what about 'good' fats?

There are some fats which have always been considered 'good' and you often hear them referred to as part of a Mediterranean diet. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are so good for us as they actually work to reduce our risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, when trying to lose weight, too many of us avoid these foods because they're 'high in fat' - we've been convinced by a diet industry that this is bad. But, like anything, it's only bad if you over-eat them; so, for heart boosting benefits, include these foods - in moderation - in your daily diet:

  • avocado (yum!!)
  • olives / olive oil
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • oily fish
  • cod liver oil
  • flax oil
  • pasture-reared / Omega-3 enriched eggs

Overall, the key thing to remember is 'everything in moderation'. Include fats in your diet because they taste good and also because they ARE good for you. How much fat is right for you will depend on you as an individual but aiming to get around 20-30% of your daily intake from fat is a good guideline.

Click here for the lowdown of the last on our macro list... Carbs.

Spark Fitness is passionate about helping you become the healthiest, fittest and most confident you. Providing in-home and outdoors personal training in north Manchester, and nutritional advice, find out how I can help you to spark your fitness journey without stepping foot in a gym here.

  1. Adrenal glands control stress hormones such as cortisol. High levels of cortisol over the long term increase appetite and insulin levels which can cause weight gain. Your thyroid gland is responsible for releasing hormones which regulate your metabolism and is therefore intrinsically connected to weight gain or loss. ↩︎

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