Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
When my personal training clients think about losing weight they think about eliminating fat. There are so many products in the grocery stores that market themselves as fat free. But our bodies actually need fat to survive. Fats are responsible for maintaining healthy skin, providing essential fatty acids for growth and cell development, transporting fat-soluble vitamins and providing energy the body needs to function.
In order to maintain a healthy body, adults should obtain 20%-35% of their calories from fat. Unfortunately, the typical American tends to consume above 40% of their calories from fat due to the fact that fat not only taste good but is also widely available in many of the foods in our grocery stores and restaurants. Although fats are necessary in our diet, they are calorie dense at 9 calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and proteins which are 4 calories per gram. Therefore, it is important to know which kinds of fats are good for your body and know which to avoid. There are two groups of fat: saturated fat (bad fat) and unsaturated fat (good fat).
Unsaturated fats are the good fats that should be included in our diet. They can be grouped into two categories: polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat are considered to be a good fat because they help lower both cholesterol and triglyceride levels and are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. One type of polyunsaturated fat that has received a lot of attention due to its heart health benefits is omega-3 fatty acid. Unsaturated fats can be found in foods such as salmon, trout, avocado, nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts) and vegetable oils (canola, olive, sunflower).
There are two types of fat that can have a negative effect on the body. They are saturated fats and trans-fatty acids.
Saturated fats are fats found in animal products and vegetable fats such as high fat meats and cheeses, whole milk and cream, butter, ice cream and palm and coconut oil which are usually used in commercially baked goods and treats. Consuming too much of these fats can lead to high cholesterol levels, clogged arteries, heart disease and an increased risk for colon and prostate cancer.
Trans-fatty acids have caused more concern for health risks over saturated fats. There are two types of trans-fatty acids, or trans-fats, present in our food supply. The first is a naturally occurring trans-fat that is present in dairy and meat. The second is an artificial trans-fat known as partially hydrogenated fat or oil which is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oil to make a solid fat. Manufacturers use this type of artificial fat because it is inexpensive and extends the shelf life of food making it more profitable. The concern with consuming partially hydrogenated fat is it increases the bodies bad cholesterol (LDL), decreases the good cholesterol (HDL), and is considered to be a major contributor to coronary heart disease and death in our country.
Including fats in your diet is essential for a healthy body. The best way to incorporate fat in your diet is to remember to consume less than 20%-35% of calories from fat in your daily diet, limit saturated fat to less than 7% of your daily calories and trans-fats to less that 1% of your daily calories, and choose foods that come from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. To find out more about eating healthy, working out, or if you’ve been thinking about hiring a personal trainer, contact us.