Let’s talk about fat. The macronutrient, fat. I’m not referring to the fat your partner can get away with jiggling, be it theirs or yours, in a playful manner.
You: ‘I’m feeling a bit porky and fat today in these jeans.’
Them: ‘but I love your little squidgy bits baby; it’s good fat.’
Them: *clears throat and makes up some excuse to leave the room*
What the fat?!
The macronutrient, fat provide out body with the most energy dense form of fuel. For every gram of fats, we consume, our body is given 37 kilojoules of energy. This reason alone is why so many folks fear fat.
But fearing the macronutrient fat, and avoiding it, can cause a whole host of problems. Dietary fats facilitate absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K (1). If we look at the chemical structure of dietary fats, most wholefood sources (not processed foods) are triglycerides, made up of a unit of glycerol combined with three fatty acids. The thing that differentiates one triglyceride to another is the fatty acid component. Other dietary fats you may be familiar with are phospholipids, phytosterols and cholesterol (1).
fat that is essential
The good fat that I’m wanting to talk with you today are the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), Our body needs EFAs to go about its normal business. EFAs (and all dietary fats to be honest) have been blamed for many health conditions and has caused a lot of confusion when it comes to dietary choices. For many of us, the term ‘fat’ conjures up the image of being unhealthy, perhaps from lack of exercise or from poor food choices. Therefore, the idea ‘good fat’ seems counter-intuitive.
SO, WHAT ARE EFAS?
EFAs are divided into two classes, Omega-3 (n-3) and Omega-6 (n-6). They’re called essential because we cannot produce them in our bodies, we must source them from our diets. Both n-3 and n-6 undergo metabolism in the body and result in longer chain fatty acids, including the commonly known eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which we see when we look at fish oils.
WHY DO I NEED THEM?
Both n-3 and n-6 get converted into different fatty acids, and each of them preform many functions within the body, including.
- synthesis of hormones, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and thromboxane
- growth, reproduction and repair of skin and hair
- cardiac support and reducing cholesterol levels
- neural development in pregnancy
- regulating blood thickness
- reducing inflammation
SOUNDS GOOD, WHERE DO I GET MY EFAS FROM?
Dietary forms of EFAs vary depending on whether it is n-3 or n-6 you’re trying to increase. Most of us will already be eating our recommended daily intake (RDI) of n-6. N-6 is commonly sourced from walnuts, flax, canola, soy, meat products and dairy.
EPA and DHA, or n-3 foods include cold water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and halibut, as well as egg yolks. People who choose to restrict these foods have a greater risk of being deficient in n-3, particularly DHA. Whilst it’s possible to derived DHA from vegetable sources, it’s more difficult to do so in an n-6 heavy diet.
factor in your fats
So, over the next couple of weeks, I’d love for you to do a fats ‘check-up’. Are you getting enough good fats in your diet? Think about if you eat one serve of oily or cold-water fish per week? Are you perhaps over doing the avocado, coconut, and olive oil in you diet? Or, perhaps after a week or two of observation you realise your macronutrient pie chart for fats is mainly made up of icecream, cheese, and fried foods.
need help mastering your macros?
Not sure if you need to boost your EFAs, DHAs or EPAs? Want to chat about how your acne won’t calm down, your brittle nails that break just from looking at them, or how your dry skin doesn’t get better no matter what you slather on it? Not sure if dietary fat is the reason you can’t shift the last kilo? Let’s connect! Book online here.
- Jenna Verhoeven
- dietary fat, fats, macronutrient, macros, nutrition for athletes, nutrition for body composition, nutrition for weightloss