Whenever I bring up the word “Fat”, many people show signs of feeling a little uncomfortable! No one wants to be considered “Fat”. For many years people were caught up in a Low Fat Craze. They were taught to believe that eating fat would in turn make you fat. Never did they consider the process of removing fats from the diet allowed processed foods, loaded with carbs and added sugars, to sneak their way in. When you remove fats, you need something to make the foods taste good. Guess what?! SUGARS were used to do just that and then you get hooked. Luckily, the low fat diet was proven to be a bad idea and more awareness was brought to the fact you need healthy fats to actually burn fat.
There are many different types of fats and they are not all equal. There are Long Chain & Medium Chain. Long Chain fats require more digestion vs. Medium Chain. Ones you might be more familiar with seeing are Unsaturated, Saturated, and Trans Fats. Of those, Trans Fats are ones you will want to limit or even avoid!
Unsaturated Fats- Liquid at room temperature. Broken down into monounsaturated fatty acids or polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 3 & omega 6).
Saturated Fats- Solid or Semi-Solid at room temperature (butter or coconut oil).
Trans Fats- Comes from industrial fat processing (chemically configured). It is created through hydrogenation. Good for commercial food production, but bad for our bodies!
Fats in the diet are important for:
- Energy! In fact, it is the most energy-dense macro
- Hormones. It helps make and balance our hormones. Especially our steroid hormones-sex and corticosteroid hormones
- Our bodies main systems need them: brain, nervous system, transportation of fat soluble vitamins, and gives us Omega 3 & 6 which we cannot make on our own
- Assists with reducing cravings
- Can reduce the risk of diabetes
- Reduces inflammation and belly fat!
Trans Fats on the other hand, if over consumed, can:
- Lower HDL (good cholesterol)
- Contribute to constipation
- Increase our bodies own cholesterol production
- Increase risk to many chronic diseases.
*As always, eating whole foods. Less processed is the BEST choice.
One question I get a lot is, “Aren’t saturated fats bad for you?” Here is my answer. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Like with anything else, we need to use moderation. It cannot be all bacon and steak all day with nothing else. Fats are energy dense so we still need to account for how much we are consuming. Our bodies know how to process naturally occurring saturated fats. Many of these forms can actually make us healthier! The problem with saturated fats arises when we consume A LOT of saturated fat WITH tons of sugar/processed carbs. This is not healthy and can lead to many health risks.
Below are some examples of fat sources:
|Saturated||Monounsaturated Fats||Polyunsaturated Fats|
Fatty cuts of beef
Whole Fat Milk
-avocado, canola, macadamia, olive, safflower, sunflower, peanut
-almonds, peanuts, cashews, brazil, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios
Fish (fish oil, cod liver oil)
MCT’s: Why they ROCK!
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, as opposed to long chain triglycerides (LCT) which are found in most foods. MCT’s occur naturally in Coconut oil as well as some other foods. Over the recent years, more research and studies have unveiled some pretty cool things that occur when you add them into your diet! Increased thermogenics (fat burn), quick energy, and mental clarity are just a few of the many benefits MCT’s provide. MCT oil started becoming more popular with the rise of the Ketogenic Diet or by those who practice fasting. The main reason was due to the quick energy source MCT oil provides.
MCT’s are easier to digest than LCT’s. MCT’s are able to bypass the digestion process in the stomach and the intestines. Instead, they are metabolized by the liver, giving them their thermogenic effect and ability to positively alter your metabolism. They are burned for a quick energy source as opposed to being stored as fat. This can make them great first thing in the morning as well as an alternate energy source to help fuel your training!
Other great benefits of MCT’s:
- As noted above, increased thermogenics, quick energy, and mental clarity
- Reduce stored body fat
- Assist with balanced hormone levels
- Improve your mood
- Antioxidant benefits: fights bacterial infections/viruses
- Could help manage Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Autism: studies shown when MCT’s are combined with a Ketogenic diet
- Help control blood sugar levels
In summary, there are many benefits to MCT’s! As with everything, too much of anything can be a bad thing. You will want to make sure you are maintaining a healthy balance of both MCT’s and LCT’s. If you are adding MCT Oil to your diet, I would suggest including it in your daily fat total and not in addition to your daily fat intake. To prevent accumulating too many fats in the liver, I would also suggest keeping MCT Oil to 1-2 tablespoons per day so you can see the benefits!
Liz Jenkins, CFE Nutrition Coach