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Nutrition

Macronutrients – Fats

03 Fats

How many times have you heard that fats are bad for us? that they make us gain weight and increase cholesterol?

The first macronutrient we´re going to talk about is fat and the reason why is because it has been involved in myths regarding health issues.

For the past years fats have been considered the cause of many health problems and diseases so experts recommended to lower fats and increased carbohydrates and that´s what we did but when we made those changes to our diet some diseases increased. The truth is that fat is a more efficient source of energy than carbohydrates and our brain needs fat. In reality our entire body including our brain loves fat and perform a lot better when they thrive with fat. Of course there are some unhealthy fats that we need to eliminate which we´re going to see in a minute and those unhealthy fats are the cause of health problems.

One of the biggest reasons why people don´t consume it is because they´re afraid that eating too much fat will make them fat, this is not true. If we eat unhealthy foods like simple carbohydrates and trans fats and we eat a lot we´ll gain weight and we´ll get fat, if we eat healthy foods it´ll be very hard to gain weight because it´s harder to over eat.

And also because the industries had made us believe that fats were bad and were causing health problems, we´ve been brainwashed to the idea that we need to follow a low-fat high carbohydrate diet.

Fats come in the form of triglycerides from the food we eat and they are also stored as triglycerides in our body. They are formed of a molecule of glycerol connected to three fatty acids. There are 9 calories in one gram of fat. Fats are also called lipids and their main function is to form the membranes of each cell of our body, they are divided into saturated, unsaturated and trans fats. A molecule of fat can have up to eighty carbon atoms.

Saturated fats.- Each carbon atom can form a bond with four other molecules, two of this bonds will always be use to connect it to the next carbon in the chain, if the remaining two bonds are connected to hydrogen it is called saturated fat. This saturated fats are solid at room temperature an example is butter. If we follow a balanced nutrition program that include  high carbohydrates and we consume a lot of this type of fats our body is not efficient at breaking them down and digesting them.

Unsaturated fats.- If the remaining bonds do not bond with hydrogen molecules it is called unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and can be divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats have a single double bond and include olive oil, avocado oil.

Polyunsaturated fats have more than one double bond and include fish oil.

Trans fat.- This fats are created from unsaturated fats by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature and they are produced or used by food chains and processed foods. This are the fats we need to avoid due to their negative effects on health.

Essential fatty acids are those fatty acids that we need to obtain from nutrition. They are classified as polyunsaturated omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids.

The amount of fat we need will vary depending of the nutrition program we are following, for a ketogenic diet  70% to 75% most come from fat, around 5% – 10% carbohydrates and the rest of protein. I want to make something clear here, if you are on a ketogenic diet, we must eat all healthy fats, the only ones you must avoid are trans fats.

Fats are a great option to keep us satisfied and full, we can have some almonds or nuts as a snack or add avocado to our meals to keep us full longer.

If you like to eat at restaurants like I do you need to watch out at how meals are cooked, many of them use dips and sausages high in trans fats and sugars and some cook with a lot of butter, even when butter is good if your goal is fat loss you want to be in a caloric deficit and fats are high.

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Pam