In the previous blog, 5 Tips to Stabilize Blood Sugar, we learned the value of stable blood sugar levels and the impact they have on our everyday lives. I shared five tips on how to stabilize our blood sugar levels along with some insights I have discovered. In the next two blogs, we will break down our third and final macro—fat.
True/False: Fat will make you fat.
Last year, what I knew about fat was that the closer I got to my 40th birthday, the harder it became to burn it. In my ignorance, I got so frustrated that the word “fat” almost became synonymous with poison. Looking back, I wonder where I got that mentality. Did I not think fat played a functional role in my life? I guess it was just ignorance. I thought, “Fat is fat, and fat is bad.”
Must have fat…quality fat!
Around the same time, I decided to do something about my fat. I began cutting as much of it out of my diet as possible. Immediately, my body reacted as I began to shake, lose energy, and crave foods. I also developed brain fog, unable to think or articulate my thoughts clearly. And I quickly realized something needed to change. I researched the role of fat in our diet, and I found that not all fat is evil. In fact, natural fats have an important and necessary role in our development and functionality. Simply put, our body needs dietary fat! (Note: Dietary fat refers to any fat consumed as part of our diet.)
Why do we need dietary fat?
According to the European Food Information Council (EUFIC), dietary fats are not just a source of energy; they function as structural building blocks for all cell membranes, are involved in vital physiological processes in the body, and are indispensable for several important biological functions including growth and development.
Brian Keane, in his book The Fitness Mindset, states that certain fatty acids can have a hormone-like effect on the human body, regulating hunger, fat loss, and muscle building hormones. For this reason, some modern day diets can destroy our metabolism. Modern breakfast bars and cereals are so highly processed, high in sugar, and absent absorbable nutrients that they leave us fighting a losing blood sugar battle the rest of the day. If you are nodding from personal experience, there is a solution. Eat more fat…quality fat! I want to share four reasons we should intentionally eat more quality fat.
1. Brain function
Our brain and nervous system are comprised of 60 percent fat, so having a diet full of the right kinds of fats and oils is an essential part of maintaining our brain health. These fats and oils include omega-3, monounsaturated fats, and olive. According to the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), dietary fats can affect multiple brain processes by regulating synaptic transmission, membrane fluidity and signal-transduction pathways.
Two crucial omega-3 fatty acids—EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)—are primarily found in certain fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), another omega-3 fatty acid, is found in plant sources such as nuts, seeds, canola, soy, perilla, flaxseed oil, and walnut oils. Not only does your body need these fatty acids to function, but also, they deliver some big health benefits.
For this reason, experts suggest loading up on fatty fish like salmon twice a week. A good diet to follow is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes foods that are rich in Omega-3s, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, and garlic.
2. Steady energy
Fat is the most concentrated source of energy. According to NCBI, triacylglycerols are highly concentrated stores of metabolic energy because they are reduced and anhydrous. What does that mean? Remember the caloric breakdown of the three primary macros?
As we can see from a caloric or energy standpoint, fat yields higher potential energy than carbs or protein. Because fat is stored in a concentrated or “anhydrous” form when stored in the body’s fat tissue, a gram of nearly anhydrous fat stores more than six times as much energy as a gram of hydrated glycogen!
3. Absorb vitamins
I recently found that fat is necessary for the absorption of vitamins! I didn’t believe it at first. Vitamins are divided into two groups: water-soluble (B-complex vitamins and C vitamins) and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids need fat for the body to digest them. Therefore, healthy fats play a vital role in the absorption of key vitamins.
4. Protection and other benefits
Body fat provides necessary cushioning for our organs. Certain fatty acids contribute to many physiological processes such as blood clotting, wound healing, and inflammation. Eating quality fats can leave us more satisfied after a meal, reducing hunger and thus promoting weight loss.
Given the proliferation of processed foods in the last decade, unless we are going out of our way to consume healthy fats, we are likely under-eating them. So, I encourage you to evaluate your fat intake, research healthy alternatives (natural fats), and enjoy the benefits you will experience.
Today, we talked about fat, certain perceptions of it, and the necessity of it. So necessary, in fact, that we covered four reasons to eat quality fat. Wait, there’s more! In the next blog, we will go into detail on different fatty acids and discuss saturated fat in its different forms. We will even cover trans-fatty acids, which you will not want to miss it!
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