The Skinny on Fat
In America, fat has a bad rap. In fact, so bad that the public associates it as something that there is too much excess of, that it should be avoided. This kind of fat would be body fat.
While our nation continues to battle epidemic levels of obesity among children and adults, its easy to forget that fat from food is an important part of our diet.
In fact, about 30% of our diet should come from fat – not significantly more, and not significantly less.
Fat consumption can range from 20%-40% . When carbohydrate intake is extremely high, fat intake can be lowered to as little as 15%. Conversely, when carbohydrate intake is extremely low, fat intake can be as high as 60%.
The bottom line however is that balancing fat intake with carbohydrate intake is key, and these extremes in the spectrum are most frequently used with high performance athletes.
Generally however, the 30% rule is best when organizing caloric intake based on daily fat consumption. This tenet obvious prompts another question which is “how much?”
Focusing on the types of fats we consume plays a pivotal role in food selection. It is for this reason that there should be a balance in thirds between monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats.
When this kind of balance is achieved, health, body composition and optimal performance can be achieved.
The most important emphasis in the majority of our diets should be consumption of adequate amounts of monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, some nuts and avocados and polyunsaturated fats that include some nuts, vegetable oils and fish oil supplements.
Adding these key fats to a diet of fruits and vegetables, dietary fat intake should ultimately balance itself properly.
Other examples of fats include:
Saturated – egg fat, dairy, meat, cheeses, coconut oil, palm oil
Monounsaturated – Olive oil, nuts and nut butters, avocados
Polyunsaturated – Flax seeds/oil, fish oil, nuts and nut butters, vegetable oils
Frequently, the term “good fats” are used to describe polyunsaturated fats as they have some of the best long lasting effects on the body.
Good fats also play a vital role in nerve sheath insulation and metabolizing fat soluble vitamins that are taken as both supplements or derived from vitamins found in foods.
Of course, speaking in generalized terms about the exact amount of fat varies based on the body composition and metabolic demands and needs of a given individual.
The most important take-away however, is that there are different kinds of fats, each of which plays a different role on body composition, energy and meeting demands of a body in motion.
Start with upping your polyunsaturated fats, and taking a long hard look at what percent of your caloric intake saturated fats represent in your diet. It’s usually this kind of fat, that is consumed in excess.