All about fats
This blog post is all about fats, those loveable macro-nutrients that we have been ingrained to dislike with very little factual support.
When you think of fats (as it relates to health & fitness), the usual response is that it is something to be avoided, similar to the plague and mixing different plaid patterns.
But fats are actually an essential part of our diet, and thus the purpose of this article is to:
- provide some context to what different fats are;
- to help you distinguish what’s healthy and not, and
- to identify sources for the good stuff, and how to avoid the other ‘not-so-healthy’ options.
There are three types of dietary fat:
- Saturated: i.e. animal fats, tropical oils (i.e. coconut)
- Monounsaturated: Olive oil, avocado, peanuts
- Omega 3: Flax oil, fish oil
- Omega 6: Seed oils (i.e. canola)
What’s healthy & what’s not
The common answer to this question is to steer toward mono & polyunsaturated fats, as saturated fat was given a bad rap for raising blood cholesterol and thus leading to heart disease.
It was later shown that saturated fat raised both ‘good (HDL) cholesterol and so-called ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol, so its villainous reputation was largely unfounded and based on assumptions.
As with most items in your diet, the key to determining what fats are healthy and what fats are not is by the source and process by which they have arrived at your doorstep.
When seeking out fats to consume (and because it is a required macro-nutrient, you want to consciously include this in your diet), seek out those fats that are unprocessed, from whole foods. This will include organic meats and free-range eggs, as opposed to processed meats and eggs coming from caged hens.
How to spot avoidable fats
The key to determining what fats should be avoided when you shop is to avoid:
- Trans-fatty acids which appear in processed foods (think deep fried and takeaway as an easy example)
- Hydrogenated fats (i.e. margarine), and
- Cooking oils that are stabilised for longer shelf life through preservatives (i.e. sunflower and corn oil).
The big takeaway is to avoid those foods that have been processed to improve their shelf life, and stick to those items that are close to their natural source.
Does this cost more?
The short answer is yes it will. Far be it from me to tell you how to spend your money, but try to think in terms of the best way to perform better. While everyone may not see himself or herself as a Ferrari, all of us want to make choices that will put us in the best position to perform.
If you give yourself the best fuel you can find, you are increasing your opportunities to be your best in all situations. Consider it an investment in your short, medium and long-term health, and a way to make sure that you live longer, with a better quality of life every day.
To learn more about healthy eating habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.
ABOUT JAMES STARING
James Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.