Part of being successful at something is to understand the various aspects of it, learning, and seeing how everything relates; a healthy diet is no different. There are three major components involved in your diet: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Usually people try and avoid fats when dieting but is that the best approach? Don’t we need fat sometimes?
To shed some more light on the subject and increase your chances for success we should analyze each area thoroughly. That way you will have a better understanding which in turn will allow for better choices to be made when eating. This article will focus on fats.
Fats are a very important energy source. They are right behind carbohydrates as the best energy source for your body. Fat gets stored in the body as triglycerides. During moderate and high intensity exercise the triglycerides break down and are sent to the mitochondria to be used. You need fats for essential functions in the body. Typically a person should take in about .5 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight. Then after the body’s needs are met you can burn off the rest using a high intensity exercise program because you can then burn that off as energy.
Types of Fats
There are three basic kinds of fat in the body: monounsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans-fatty acids. I like to call these the good, bad, and the ugly of fats.
Monounsaturated fats are the good kind and most useful to your system. Naturally, they occur in plants and are found in things like olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, and canola oil. The body uses this type of fat in all sorts of areas like supporting nerves, strengthening cells, and even producing critical hormones.
Saturated fats are bad fats, but still can be eaten in small amounts. But excess can lead to increased cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease. Also there are concerns of diabetes and cancer with diets rich with saturated fats. Common examples of these types of fats are butter, cheese, and fatty meats such as pork and beef.
Trans-fatty acids are the ugly of this group that just needs to be avoided. They are found in things like fried foods or things that use hydrogenated vegetable or fish oil. French fries, donuts, deep-fried Twinkies, chips, and common snack foods have trans-fats in them.
The only types of fatty acids you truly need are omega-6 and omega-3 because your body cannot naturally produce them. Omega-3 can be found in soy, walnuts, flax, fish, and dark green leafy vegetables. Usually people are deficient in omega-3. On the other hand, omega-6 is found in vegetable oil so it can be included in lots of products. Most people have an excess of omega-6 in their system.
What to Eat
To increase the good kind of fat in your body you should focus on eating things like flax seeds (or oil), walnuts, other nuts, fish, and leafy green vegetables as often as possible. There are a few ways to include flax oil and ground flax seed into your daily diet by introducing it in the cooking phase. On the flip side avoid trans and saturated fats as much as possible by skipping fried foods, processed snacks, and fatty meats. The end result will be a healthier and happier body.