Healthy fats are another buzzword that seems to be making the rounds of the interwebs and since I just posted about my body fat percentage coming down I thought it would be an opportune time to discuss the healthy fats that I consume on a regular and daily basis. I also posted about the term fat-free earlier this week and why you should not fall for the label because fat-free is not healthy if the product typically has fat in it (mayo) but you can eat healthy fats and lead a healthy lifestyle.
What would constitute a healthy fat? Before I get into that please notice I am not referring to them as good or bad fats but instead healthy fats. Why? I don’t want anybody to read this post and then eat something that is not listed as ‘good’ and feel bad for consuming it. Every person is different and the point of this post is to not make anybody feel guilty about their choices but instead to educate about what is considered a healthy fat and why.
Also, let’s discuss for a brief moment the fat content in my diet. As I mentioned in my diet change post I am consuming nearly 50% of my carbohydrates before/during/after my workouts in the morning and then turning to lean proteins and healthy fats the rest of the day. If you breakdown the macro-nutrient categories into percentages my daily consumption fall in line as follows:
- Carbohydrates: ~50% – 60% of my calories. Each g of carbs is equivalent to 4 calories.
- Protein: ~15% – 20% of my calories. Each g of protein is equivalent to 4 calories.
- Fats: ~25% – 30% of my calories. Each g of fat is equivalent to 9 calories.
As you can see I don’t shy away from consuming fat, but I also pay attention to fat and ensure, to the best of my ability, that it is one of the healthy fats.
The body uses fat as a fuel source, and fat is the major storage form of energy in the body. Fat also has many other important functions in the body, and a moderate amount is needed in the diet for good health. Fats in food come in several forms, including saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Too much fat or too much of the wrong type of fat can be unhealthy. Let us focus on sources of healthy fats and you can make a determination on whether or not you have enough healthy fats in your diet.
Sources Of Healthy Fats
Coconut: This product has naturally occurring saturated fat that is very good for you because early 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid. Coconut oil is also nature’s richest source of medium-chain fatty acids or medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. Most common vegetable or seed oils are composed of long chain fatty acids, also known as long-chain triglycerides or LCTs. But MCTs , being smaller, are easily digested and immediately burned by your liver for energy — like carbohydrates, but without the insulin spike. MCTs actually boost your metabolism and help your body use fat for energy, as opposed to storing it, so it can actually help you become leaner. Here are some benefits to coconut:
- Improving your heart health.
- Boosting your thyroid.
- Increasing your metabolism.
- Promoting a lean body and weight loss if needed.
- Supporting your immune system.
Nuts: As you may read yesterday I have all sorts of nuts in my pantry. All varieties of nuts are there and they include almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and hazelnuts. I enjoy putting them into my waffle batters or on top of salads for an extra bit of texture and crunch. There is more to it than flavor though as nuts provide us with healthy fats.
Of course each variety of nut is going to have different nutritional information but they will have the following benefits regardless of the nut:
Although it varies by nut, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:
- Unsaturated fats. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that help you by preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.
- Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less.
- Vitamin E. May help stop the development of plaques in your arteries. Plaque development can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
- Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol.
- L-arginine. Is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots.
Eggs: If you have read this blog for just a bit of time then you will know that eggs and I are the best of friends. I probably consume at least one egg per day and average about a dozen per week. I put them in my waffle batter, make omelets, hard boil them for salads or bake them with my homemade red gravy for a hearty and satisfying meal. There are so many myths about eggs out there but the fact of the matter is that they provide quality vitamins, minerals and protein while being a healthy fat.
- A: good for the skin and growth.
- D: strengthens bones by raising calcium absorption.
- E: protects cells from oxidation.
- B1: helps properly release energy from carbohydrates.
- B2: helps release energy from protein and fat.
- B6: promotes the metabolism of protein.
- B12: an essential vitamin in the formation of nerve fibers and blood cells.
- Iron: essential in the creation of red blood cells.
- Zinc: good for enzyme stability and essential in sexual maturation.
- Calcium: most important mineral in the strengthening of bones and teeth.
- Iodine: controls thyroid hormones.
- Selenium: like vitamin E, it protects cells from oxidation.
There are other healthy fats that we can consume and they include avocados, chia seeds and flax seeds to name a few. Do not be afraid to include these healthy fats in your diet as they will actually speed your weight loss as opposed to eating those fat free products.