Like carbs, fats are both good and bad news. Fats are really bad for you if they saturated or trans fats as these raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries and cause heart disease and stroke. Fats are really good for you if they are unsaturated or essential fatty acids which are a concentrated source of energy that is essential to your health and for muscle building and losing fat.
Fat supports good health by:
- Benefitting your heart, metabolism, and immune system;
- Promoting normal brain function, growth, and development;
- Providing transportation of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K throughout the body;
- Cushioning and protecting internal organs.
Saturated fats are strongly correlated with obesity, heart disease and stroke and should be avoided or eaten in moderation. They are found in abundance in animal products such as meats, chicken skin, lard, butter, hard margarine, whole milk cheeses, whole milk and anything in which these ingredients are used, such as cakes, chocolate, biscuits, pies and pastries.
Trans Fatty Acids
A trans fatty acid is an unsaturated fat that has been altered and modified by partial hydrogenation. This fat is similar to saturated fat and is used to produce oils for most processed and fast foods, such as cookies, french-fries and donuts. It is very bad for your health and should never be eaten. Read labels and choose products that have zero grams of trans fat and scan the ingredient list for “partially hydrogenated oils” — a trans fat by another name.
GOOD UNSATURATED FATS
Good fats are a must for bodybuilders as they help you build muscle faster, enhancing performance. Further, eating the right kind of fats will actually help you lose extra body fat, and eliminate diet-induced depression, workout-induced inflammation and even low energy.
Monosaturated fats provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells and are high in valuable vitamins such as E and in antioxidants. These fats are important in building muscle and losing fat but don’t over do it unless you need to gain weight. Shoot for 30% of good fat in your daily diet.
Good sources include:
- Raw avocado (should not be soft as fat is probably rancid)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil — canned from Spain or Italy is the best source
- Canola Oil
- Sesame (unrefined if possible)/tahini
- Raw nuts (keep refrigerated)
- Raw coconut and coconut butter
- Macadamia nuts
Always buy cold-pressed oil, keep it refrigerated, and use it quickly as it goes bad quickly.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential to our health, essential fatty acids promote a healthy heart, circulatory system and hormone production, increasing metabolic rate, supporting the immune system and optimizing brain function.
Essential fatty acids include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. But the power comes largely from the omega-3s. Here are some of the omega-3s many extraordinary benefits.
- Helping the heart maintain a steady rhythm by reducing the tendency of blood to clot;
- Reducing the body’s inflammatory response, lessening the likelihood of atherosclerotic plaque breaking off and clogging an artery;
- Feeding our brain as around a quarter of our brains is fat. If we don’t get enough, we don’t think well and might feel down or crabby.
- Helping reduce the risk of obesity and childhood diabetes by reducing tissue levels of triglycerides (stored fats), which improves the sensitivity of insulin — the hormone that drives amino acids and glucose into muscle cells.
Our bodies do not make these fatty acids and we must get them from food.
Food Sources Omega-3:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Unsaturated oils
- Leafy spinach
Food Sources Omega-6:
We need essential oils in a specific balance of 4x omega-3 to 1x omega-6. The problem is the standard American diet has a ratio of around 20 to 1 — 20 omega-6’s to 1 omega-3. Up your intake of omega-3s and reduce your intake of omega-6s.
Here’s some ways.
- Use “vegetable” oils from grains and seeds sparingly, because they are typically high in omega-6 fatty acids. For instance, corn oil has a omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 66:1, sunflower oil 77:1, soybean oil 67:1. Your dietary ratio should not exceed 4:1.
- Eat raw seeds as snacks as they are high in monounsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants and have been linked to promoting a healthy heart and stabilizing blood sugar levels after a meal.
- Eat at least one good source of omega-3 fats each day. Balance between omega-3 sources like flax and pumpkin seeds and healthy omega-6 sources like sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
- Avoid margarine and use butter sparingly.