Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nutrition 101: Part 4 - Fat!

Welcome all to the fourth and final installment of our Nutrition 101 series! If you've missed any of the pieces so far, please take a moment to review:

Part I - What and How Much
Part II - Protein
Part III - Carbs

Now that you're all up to speed - let's jump right in!

Fats - they are absolutely essential for normal body function, for ALL bodies (big, small, tall, short, ALL!) They are a major source of energy, help your body in absorbing vitamins, and are vital for proper growth, development and keeping you healthy. Fats also provide taste to foods and help you feel fuller longer.

Life would be all peanut butter and chocolate if that's where it stopped, right? Well, life isn't and nothing is ever that easy :-) There are different kinds of fats and not all of them are created equal!

Trans Fat - can be both naturally occurring (small amounts in the fatty parts of meat and dairy) and artificial (foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil). A lot of people just say avoid all trans fat, when in reality, it isn't the small amounts in meat/dairy that get ya - it's the artificial trans fat in processed food products (read: Twinkie). As with virtually everything, avoid and limit processed foods!

Saturated Fat - a lot of conflicting information out there on this little bugger. Saturated fat is often found in high-fat cheeses, high-fat cuts of meat, whole-fat milk and cream, butter, and ice cream. The whole "saturated fat causes heart disease" stands on really shaky ground from a data perspective, but the overall takeaway is: we're not saying gorge yourself on butter, bacon, and cheese, but there is no reason why these things can't be a part of a healthy diet!

Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fat  - most of your fat should come from these sources! Nuts, vegetable oils, and fish fall into these two categories. Great sources of Omega-6 and Omega-3!

Cholesterol - fatty substance that's found in animal-based foods (meats, poultry, egg yolks, and whole milks). Not only do you get cholesterol from the foods you eat, but your body also makes cholesterol to use in normal body functions. Here is where HDL ("good" cholesterol) and LDL ("bad" cholesterol) come into play.

The amount of fat one should have in their diet varies based on a person's current state, their goals, any dietary guidelines they follow (Paleo/Caveman diet, for example, is high fat), etc.

Most important takeaway is this: Make the majority of your fat come from these: fish, avocados, eggs, olive/canola/coconut oils, and nuts/nut butters.

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In Health,

Timothy and Lindsay

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