Updated: Dec 9, 2020
LET'S TALK ABOUT FAT
Out of all the macronutrients fats yields nine calories per gram, as opposed to the 4 k/cal found in both protein and carbohydrates. Dietary fats just like carbohydrates seems to have a bad reputation due to their caloric density, so upon removal of fats form any dietary regime, the resultant loss in weight is more often than not attributed to the fats itself as opposed to the often significant drop in total calories.
The correct name for fats is lipids. The most common lipid that's used in the body is known as a triglyceride, which is composed of three fatty acids and a glycerol backbone.
Ok ok, enough science, let's talk a language we can all understand!
There are three basic types of fatty acid
Saturated: The basic structure of saturated fats would generally mean that, at room temperature, they are solid and have a longer life.
Polyunsaturated: Polyunsaturated fats will generally be liquid at room temperature but start to harden when chilled.
Monounsaturated: Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, but start to harden when chilled.
Ok Helder, so what foods am I eating that contain the above?
If you are consuming fatty cuts of meat, ghee, lard, cheese especially hard cheese like cheddar, soured cream, ice cream, savoury snacks, like cheese crackers and some popcorns, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, and pastries you are consuming a lot of saturated fats.
If you are consuming olive oil, rapeseed oil and other spreads made from these oils, avocados and some nuts, such as almonds, brazils, and peanuts you are consuming monounsaturated fats.
If you are consuming vegetable oils, such as: rapeseed, corn and sunflower, as well as oily fish, such as kippers, herring, trout, sardines, salmon and mackerel you are consuming polyunsaturated fats.
However there are 2 main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6. Omega 6 are more the vegetable oils and omega 3 are the oily fish.
Helder, I keep hearing how important omega 3's are, can you tell me more?
There are three common types of omega 3 fatty acids:
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – both are long chain omega 3 fatty acids, and both come from animal sources. DHA is the really good one: it keeps your nervous system functioning and provides anti-inflammatory benefits. Higher consumption correlates with improved mood, greater insulin sensitivity, increased muscle growth, and better sleep. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) – this is a short chain omega 3 fatty acid. ALA comes mostly from plant sources, and most animals can’t really use it, so they convert it to the super-powerful DHA.
So how many omega 3s should you eat to get optimal benefits?
It largely depends on your omega 6 consumption. Omega 6 fats are also necessary for survival, but they’re not nearly as beneficial as omega 3s. Omega 6 fats help with brain function, muscle growth, and hormone production, but they also cause inflammation, and they compete with omega 3s in the body. The ideal is to eat just enough omega 6s to function, but no more, and to balance them with lots of omega 3s. For most people, an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of 4:1 is ideal– that’s 4 omega 6s for every 1 omega 3.
Ok Helder so how many fats should I be consuming everyday?
Ideally we want between 20% to 30% fats coming from overall calories, anything less than this could be problematic. What do you mean problematic?
Mineralocorticoids: Responsible for sodium, potassium, water and mineral metabolism alongside the actions of the kidneys.
Glucocorticoids: Responsible for intermediary metabolism, inflammation, immunity, wound healing, myocardial, and muscle integrity. They are also largely responsible for stimulating the conversion of protein to carbohydrates in gluconeogenesis. The need for fats when moving down glucagon based metabolic pathways is critical.
Androgens: Androgens are the group of sex hormones often categorised or deemed as “male” hormones due to their impact on male morphological development. However, androgens are both crucial for male and female sexual and reproductive function alongside their secondary sexual characteristics such as body and facial hair, bone and muscular development. Androgens can also inhibit the ability of some fats to store lipids.
Progestagens: Progestagens such as progesterone help regulate menstruation and the gestation hormones. If estrogen levels get too high progesterone can no longer keep a dynamic balance. Progesterone assists in the formation of new bone, regulation of blood pressure, fat storage and carbohydrate metabolism.
Vitamin D: is technically a secosteroid (or hormone precursor) but functions as a steroidal hormone. Converted in the liver it serves many metabolic and supportive functions.
I hope this helps, if it does, please LIKE - SHARE - COMMENT