Of all three macronutrients, fats are probably the most misunderstood. Many people completely cut fatty foods from their diet because they presume it will “make them fat.” Truth be told, if you eat in excess of proteins and carbohydrates, they too will add weight. I’m here to cut the fat and set the record straight.
Fats are very important to the functioning of the human body. They serve hundreds of roles on a daily basis; including but not limited to, insulation, provision of energy, normal cell functioning, and even play a role in enzymatic reactions.
It is important to understand that your body needs a certain level of fat to survive. For males, this “essential” body fat is at 3% and for females it represents 11%. The gender variance is because of the maternal implications associated with the female body. If you drop below essential body fat, you will have major health complications.
Now that you understand why fat is an important part of the diet, let’s be sure to keep it under control. My nutritional advice always leans towards moderation. There are however nutritional guidelines to help steer you in the right direction. Generally speaking, fats should account for no more than 30% percent of your diet. This 30% is comprised of three basic types of fat: unsaturated, saturated, and trans. The best fats, known as polyunsaturated should make up about 15-20% of your diet. These are found in fish, walnuts, soybeans, and chia seeds. Unsaturated fats are cardiovascular benign, meaning that they have neither a positive nor negative effect on your heart and vascular system. Examples of this include avocados, almonds, and olive oil. Saturated fats can lead to clogged arteries and should represent no more than 10% of your diet. This type of fat is typical of red meat, butter, dark chocolate, and egg yolks. Finally there is trans fat. This is a chemically altered substance that your body cannot break down. Trans fats should be kept to 0% of your diet.
I hope this clarifies the idea of fat consumption and use. Remember your body needs fats to survive. Be sure to follow the aforementioned recommendations for a healthy lipid profile.