Posted on September 02, 2020 by Jenny Cromack
Fat… the word many fear, the word hugely understood and slammed in the media! But it’s about time we get to know the truth about FAT! It’s a topic which I often discuss with my personal training clients as fat isn’t all that bad….you just need to know which types you should be eating and which you should avoid.
Firstly, what is fat? What are the types of fat? And most importantly why do we need it? Let’s look at why we need fat first?
1g of fat provides us with 9kcal of energy, compared to carbohydrates and protein which provide us with 4kcal. Although fats are more calorie dense, they do reap benefits.
Source of Essential Fatty Acids!
Including dietary fats in our day to day life provides a source of essential fatty acids which our body cannot make such as omega-6 and omega-3, (found in oily fish). Fatty acids are particularly important for the contribution they have to the formation of cell membranes, especially in nerve tissue.
Carrier of Vitamins
Not only that, but fat is a carrier of fat-soluble vitamins known as Vitamin A, D, E and K which are essential for good health. Fat is absolutely necessary for their absorption.
You Give Fats A Bad Name…..!
Now, fats can get a bad name too! It’s pretty easy to get confused. Should we eat them? Should we avoid them? The answer to the last question is NO! It’s recommended that we consume no less than 25% of daily energy intake from fats. The British Nutrition Foundation recommend fats to fall from 35% or below of our daily food energy intake but 11% or less being saturated fats. This is where it can get a little tricky! With 11% or less of saturated fats, and a small 2% from trans fatty acids, how do we know which ones to cut down on?
Saturated fats are usually your ‘hard’ fats. Fats that are hard at room temperature. Cheese, butter, processed foods and meat such as sausages, pastry, etc. Although you don’t have to completely avoid them, it’s a great idea to cut back on saturated fats and keep saturated fats low in your diet. Having a diet high in saturated fat can lead to an increase in cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.
Trans fatty acids are known to be high in foods like fast food, fries, takeaways, etc. Again, it’s a good idea to keep these low in your diet as they can contribute to high cholesterol levels, obesity and weight gain around the abdominal area.
Replacing or swapping trans fats and saturated fats in your diet for monounsaturated (olive oil, avocados etc) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (fish, seeds, nuts) can actually result in decreased cholesterol levels leading to reduced heart disease risk.
If you’re looking to reduce your saturated fat or trans fat intake, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Use ‘lean’ meat rather than fatty meat and cut off any visible fat!
- Instead of frying try grilling, boiling or steaming foods.
- Switch out butter or lard for olive, rapeseed or sunflower oils & oil based spreads.
- Choose lower fat options, such as skimmed or semi skimmed milk.
If you need any more advice about which fats you should be including in your diet, be sure to get in touch and we’ll be glad to help.