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The skinny on eating good Fats

So whenever anyone asks me the best way to lose weight or tone up they always come to the conclusion that they have to cut out fat of their diet. I mean makes complete sense doesn't it.. fat makes you fat?? I was definitely one to believe this and to a certain extent yes that is true. This is also true for eating excess carbohydrates and to a lesser extent proteins (proteins is the only macronutrient that the body can't store so has to be constantly replenished). So basically long story short ... overeating on anything can make you fat.

Lets start by breaking fats down.

Fats (otherwise known as lipids or triglycerides) can be one of 4 categories either

- Monounsaturated or Polyunsaturated fats (both of these are known as the "good" fats);

- Saturated fats (what we know as "bad" fats);

- or Trans fats (the no no turn away and run for your life fats - otherwise known as the fats that WILL make you fat).

Now there is a very good reason why people think that eating fat will make you fat. Lets look at the amount of energy that the body recieves from fats. I've done a comparison with carbs, protein, fat and alcohol to highlight to difference in energy gained from each (I just threw alcohol in there as a side to show actually how calorie rich alcohol actually is).

Carbohdrates = 1g of carbohydrate = 4 calories = 16 kilojules

Protein - 1g of protein = 4 calories = 17 kilojules

Alcohol - 1g of alcohol = 7 calories = 29 kilojules

Fat - 1g of fat = 9 calories = 37.8 kilojules

So a product that had 10g of fats would provide you with 90 calories, compared to 40 calories from the equivalent amount of carbohydrates or protein. So it is easy to see why eating excess fat will make you just that. It However, it is the type of fat that you eat that will pile the excess kilos on and will affect your health.

On a side note, this should also highlight that saying i'm on a 2000 calorie a day diet won't work ... 2000 calories coming all from fats is going to be a very different diet to 2000 calories coming from carbohydrates or proteins. That is why there are acceptables daily ranges for each.

So in a typical daily diet;

Good complex carbohydrates should be between 45-60% of your daily diet,

Lean sources of protein should be between 15-25% of your daily diet

"Good" fats should equate to between 20-35% of your daily energy intake with sasturated fats aiming to not exceed 10%.

The first type of fat we'll look at is Monunsaturated fats. Due to their chemical structure they can only withstand some light and heat exposure without becoming rancid. So it is not advisable to cook at high temperatures (i.e. stir fry in a wok) with monosaturated fats as they will become rancid and the benefits of them are then greatly reduced. So use your olive and avocado oils as dressings on salads and dishes but not to cook with. Monounsaturated fats have many benefits which include improving memory impairment, reduced blood clotting and gall stone formation and helps in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Secondly the other good type of fat Polyunsaturated fats. These include your Omega 3 (fish oils) and Omega 6 fats which are considered an EFA's (essential fatty acid) as the body can't produce these. Some of the main functions of both of there are for brain function (quite important i'd say), muscle movement and mobility, helps with chronic inflammation, asthma, allergies, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, pneumonia, dermatisis, Attention defecit disorders, schizophrenia and eczema. So as you can see pretty important to be eating these!!

Now saturated fats are those fats that are hard at room temperature so typically your dairy products and visible fat meat products. Eating excess of these can increase blood cholesterol (in particular increase LDL cholesterol - the bad cholesterol) So while these are fairly unavoidable in a typical diet, limiting these is going to greatly improve yuor heath and waistline.

The last type of fat, the very bad fays - Trans fat is basically when an liquid fat gets cooked.. putting simply think you make a cake, put oil in the mixture and then cook it. The oil gets solidified. What this does is change the chemical structure of that fat. Now the reason why trans fats are bad is because heating the fat and changing the chemical structure causes them to oxidise and thus increases the risk of heart disease, coronary artery disease and thrombosis (blood clots).

Another good reason to eat fats is due to their vitamin uptake capacity. What are known as the fat soluble vitamins - Vitmains A, D, E and K cannot be processed in the body without those good fats. So think eating a carrot (high in vitamin A) with avocado dip (Good fat).

Below are some examples of all the different types of fats

Monounsaturated fats

- Olive, peanut, almond, hazelnut, avocado, safflower, cashew, macadamia, peacan, and mustard oils

- Cod liver oil

- Macadamias, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews, pistacchios

- Avocado

- Egg white

Polyunsaturated fats ( I remember this as being the plant oils)

- Omega 6 sources - Corn, soybean, canola, peanut, grapeseed sesame, sunflower and flackseed oils. vegetables and legumes.

- Omega 3 sources - Salmon, mackerl, tuna, herring, leafy vegetables, legumes, chia seeds, white fish, shellfish, watercress

Saturated fats

- Butter

- Milk

- Palm and Coconut oils

- Cheese

- Most dairy products

- Beef

- Pork

- Chicken

- Egg yolk

Trans fats

- Cakes

- Biscuits

- Muffins

- Chips

- Fried food

- Frozen dinners

- Soft drinks

So I hope this has helped dispell the myth about eating fats and what are the good types of fat to eat.

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