Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is any fat healthy?

Hi there, this is Jonathan Clark from Lose Weight For Scotland – it’s my mission to Crush Obesity, Add Years To Your Life & help you to Look Good Naked!  I challenge Scots to lose 10 lbs of fat or gain 10 lbs of muscle, even if they’ve tried everything else, and it’s guaranteed.  One of the questions I get asked all the time is  “Is any fat healthy?”

Actually, and this sounds bonkers, but a certain amount of fat in the diet plan is good and actually necessary for you to be healthy. However, nutrition experts agree that most folk should eat less fat than they currently do.  That’s why I always cut the greasy white fat off of bacon, meat and anywhere else it appears on my plate, cos I believed “If I don’t eat it in the first place, it will stop appearing on my belly!”  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

See there’s 2 types of fats that you’ll have heard of – saturated, and unsaturated.  And all this jargon is really confusing, isn’t it?  So let me try and make this really simple, cos I had to go and study this stuff just to get my own head around it.    This is how I understand it - Saturated generally being regarded as ‘bad’ fats - These fats are derived from animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. But you also get it in some plant-based sources such as coconut, palm oils. These fats are solid at room temperature. Just picture a big white cube of lard.  Saturated fats directly raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Conventional advice says if you want weight loss, avoid them as much as possible.

Unsaturated are ‘good’ fats, and they come from vegetables and plants.

These are liquid at room temperature but begin to solidify at cold temperatures. This type of fat is preferable to other types of fat and can be found in olives, olive oil, nuts, peanut oil, canola oil and avocados. Some studies have shown that these kinds of fats can actually (bad) cholesterol and maintain (good) cholesterol.

Then there’s Omega-3 fatty acids.  These include an “essential” fatty acid, which means it's critical for our health but cannot be manufactured by our bodies. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fish, flax seed, soy, and walnuts. These fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and also boost our immune systems.  That’s why you should eat oily fish, or if you’re like me and you can still remember the pilchards on your Dad’s dinner plate staring at you with cold, dead eyes –you  might find it easier just to take an Omega 3 capsule every day!

When you do eat fat, make sure it is primarily unsaturated fat, such as fat that comes from nuts, grains, and vegetable sources like olive oil.  That’s why you see all those adverts with Italian people living til they’re 100.  Doing that has gotten me down to 17% bodyfat, so I don’t need to wear baggy jumpers to hid my jiggly belly anymore..

So just to recap why are fats important?

Fats are macronutrients [ that means Nutrients that the body uses in relatively large amounts – like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats ] and they provide 9kcal per gram, therefore are the most energy dense nutrient. We should aim to eat a maximum 70g fat per day, and of this only 20g maximum of saturated “bad” fats. Fats are still important, as they are an energy source for the body, as well as a building block of many bodily components. In addition, omega 3 types of polyunsaturated fats- are called ‘essential fats’, as these have vital roles in the body yet cannot be made by the body and so must be consumed as part of one’s diet.

These have a number of jobs to do, including health brain function and managing your cholesterol levels

Let’s be clear: you need fat in your diet. Fat also provides an essential fatty acid for growth, healthy skin and metabolism. It also helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K). And, face it, fat adds flavour and is satisfying, making us feel fuller, keeping hunger at bay.  But that doesn’t mean you should always “Say aye tae a pie”.

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