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Fat – The Brainy Macronutrient

Fat – The Brainy Macronutrient

Posted June 28, 2019 in Blog  253 10

We’re doing a short series on macronutrients. What are they? What is their function? How do you source them?

We’ve already covered the essential macronutrient protein—make sure you check out that post—as well as the energy macronutrient, carbohydrates. That’s another good post to read.

Here, we’ll discuss fat—the macro that has made a comeback in the media recently as research and education redefine its purpose and establish its value for health.

Does Fat Make You Fat?

Unequivocally, no.

No single macronutrient can do that on its own. To gain body fat, it takes a calorie surplus, which usually includes all three macros, as well as many other factors.

Because fat is more calorically dense than carbs—9 calories per gram for fat, 4 for carbs—fat is often incorrectly labelled as unhealthy or bad. It also has the ability to make food taste delicious, so going hog wild on “bliss point” foods will result in a higher fat intake.

So why the bad reputation and fear surrounding fat?

Saturated fat and trans fat have been linked to heart disease and elevated cholesterol. But it’s a mistake to lump healthy fats into that category. By skipping out on polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fat, and essential fatty acids, you’re missing out on some serious health benefits and the opportunity to truly optimize your nutrition.

What Do Healthy Fats Do?

Fats serve several critical functions in our bodies. We call it the “brainy macro” because of how important it is for brain health and development.

Your brain is largely made of fat, so it relies on this macro for optimal health—specifically omega-3 fatty acids.

Fats are a source of energy. As we stated in the blog on carbs, your body does prefer glucose as its primary energy source. But what happens once it burns through your glycogen stores? It switches to fat!

With 9 calories per gram, fats are an excellent source of energy, especially for endurance sports.

Fats also help you absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins that are essential to your health. These vitamins play a role in a helping you maintain healthy skin, hair and bones.

If we limit fat intake, we’re impairing our body’s ability to absorb and use these vitamins.

Where Do You Find Healthy Fats?

If you’re looking to boost your healthy fat intake, start here:

  1. Avocado
  2. Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna, sardines, trout)
  3. Nuts and seeds
  4. Nut butter
  5. Olive oil
  6. Full-fat yogurt
  7. Whole eggs

How Much Fat Should You Eat?

Everyone is different. A very general but effective guideline is to obtain 30 percent of your caloric intake from fats. So if you consume a 2,000-calorie diet every day, 65 grams of fat would be a good starting point.

This can be tailored to fit your specific energy requirements and dietary preferences, of course.

Because fats can provide such great energy and keep you feeling fuller longer, you can play with this ratio and choose to source more of your energy from fats if you prefer.

Consider your lifestyle and training preferences, and perhaps consider working with a nutrition coach to strike the perfect balance!

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