Fat is the dreaded, most hated macronutrient. If macronutrients were ranked with medals, I imagine most people would give the gold to protein, the silver reluctantly to carbs, and bronze easily to fat. But you need fat! There’s a very valid reason why the three macros are what they are.
Not only does fat make food taste better (duh), it plays a huge role in a healthy, balanced diet. Fat carries the most calories per gram of the macros (9 calories per gram, a good measure is a thumb sized servicing), but that’s necessary since one of its biggest roles if energy storage. Basically, if you need to use energy soon after eating, fat will be used first, but if it’s not needed, it will be stored in fat tissue until it’s needed. Fat is the primary fuel source for low-intensity movements, the day-to-day stuff like writing this email or washing dishes.
So fat is your friend, you need it! It is so crucial for you to exist that your body knows how to convert excess carbs and protein into fat and store it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat fat, if protein and carbs are being converted to fat, they’re not being used for their intended purposes.
Not all fats are created equal though, you want to eat the right kinds of fat.
- Saturated Fat - Found most often from animal sources like meat and dairy, and oils (think coconut and palm). Limit saturated fat consumption, usually less than 10% of total calories.
- Trans Fat - Avoid this. Period.
- Unsaturated Fat - Mono & Poly - These are your good fats. You’ll find these in avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. Try using these fats for your macro fat and to flavor your life.
How should you work healthy fats into your life? Eat meat and dairy, but try to keep them from being your primary source of fat and protein. Eat plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit along with the fat for balance and to aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Make sure to choose food that carry omega-6 and omega-3. Change up the oils you cook with. But mostly focus on foods that have mono & polyunsaturated fats, avoid trans and limit saturated.
If you need help understanding food’s role in your body, Coach Sarah is your go-to resource. She offers Nutrition Consultations to discuss nutrition with you and get you started on a better relationship with food.