21 – Fats are Good for You
Healthy Fats Serve Several Functions
Fats enable the body to absorb and use the nutrients in many types of foods like the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K and E in fruits and vegetables. Without fat, our body cannot transport and use these vitamins.
Fats help with brain function, concentration, memory, and mood. The main constituent of brain tissue is….you guessed it, fat.
The right kinds of fat improve heart health and keep cholesterol levels in check.
Fats keep our metabolism and especially our hormone levels running smoothly. Also, without fats, reproduction would not be possible.
Fats provide calories so we feel full after eating.
Why Fats Don’t Make Us Fat?
One thing you may not know about fats is how they affect our energy, especially if we are training hard.
For people who eat lower carbohydrate diets, a diet that pays attention to starches, the main source of energy that is burned off by the body easily and efficiently becomes fat. (Think Keto)
Fats and carbs should have an inverse relationship in a healthy diet, as when one is limited, the other needs to go up to make up for lost calories. This way your body has enough fuel to do the things you love to do.
Fat helps keep your metabolism and hormones happy and running smoothly which makes burning fat easier.
Fat is used in every single cell of our body. The nervous system, cardiovascular system, immune system, hormonal system, reproductive system, and digestive system all rely on fat to make your body fit and healthy.
Want to build muscle or get a lean, toned look?
You need fat in your diet to support the hormones that will allow you to get that lean physique. A better way to think about fat is that consuming the right types of fats – whole food, natural sources – will prime your body to burn fat efficiently because your body systems will be happy.
Eat fat, burn the fat.
Each serving of fat equals about the size of 1 of your thumbs. 2 thumbs for men.
Strive to get good healthy fats at each meal and you can always adjust from there.
Your goal is going to be to get your fats from real, whole food sources: healthy oils, avocados, coconuts, olives, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
For right now, don’t over complicate things. Be aware of the different types of fats you are already consuming.
Are you cooking with oil? If so, what type?
Are you eating nuts or seeds as a snack or drizzling a little olive oil on a salad? Great!
Be aware of the fats you are consuming and stick to the recommended serving size of one thumb per portion.
There are various types of oils that fall under the four different types of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated (Omega 3s and 6s) and trans fats.
Because each type of fatty acid has a different structure, not every structure works well for all our needs. Just because one oil is healthily drizzled over a salad, doesn’t necessarily make that an oil you should cook with.
This does add another layer of complexity, but keep reading to sort through it all.
One important point to know about oils is their “smoking point,” which is the temperature at which the oils start to oxidize and break down.
You want to avoid bringing any oil over its smoking point. Doing so removes much of the health benefit of the oil. If you reach this point, it’s best to let the oil cool, remove, and start over.
Guidelines for cooking with healthy oils:
High heat (like frying, searing or roasting)
Avocado oil (good source of monounsaturated fat)
These oils have a high smoke point and won’t break down as easily.
Medium/Low heats (light sautéing)
Coconut oil (good source of healthy saturated fat)
Butter (source of healthy saturated and monounsaturated fat)
Extra virgin olive oil (good source of monounsaturated fat)
Or use one of the oils classified under high heat
These oils have a lower smoke point but work really well for everyday cooking at normal temperatures.
Drizzling on Food, Not Heating
Extra virgin olive oil
Hemp Seed Oil
Or other polyunsaturated oils (look for low Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio)
Deep fat frying a twinkie in avocado oil doesn’t make it any healthier. Frying typically adds more calories to food, so even if the frying oil is healthy, it will add more calories to your food.
A good practice is to stay away from frying in your everyday cooking and stick to sautéing and steaming. This way, you have more control over how much oil goes into the pan or is drizzled on your dish .
Use the right oil for the temperature you plan to cook at:
High heat use avocado or palm oil.
Everyday light cooking use butter or coconut oil.
Remember, fats used to cook with are fats that are consumed. Take this into account when you are eating a variety of fats throughout the day.