Why You Need Fat In Your Diet

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Why You Need Fat In Your Diet

The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.
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Fat is one of the three macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and protein, needed by the body to function.

It is the most calorie dense of the 3 macronutrients, providing 9 calories for every gram, which means it’s often demonised and belittled BUT regardless it’s still an essential part of your diet. 

When eaten, it’s broken down into fatty acids (mostly in the small intestine) to be used by the body.

Depending on total calorie intake fat is commonly stored for future use, which can lead to the accumulation of body fat and weight gain.

How Is Fat Processed By The Body?

As previously mentioned, when you eat it’s broken down into fatty acids and generally either used or stored.

It helps your body;

  • Absorb fat-soluble vitamins

  • Maintain cell membranes

  • Produce hormones

  • Maintain a normal core body temperature

  • And can also be used as energy by the body in the absence of glucose and/or glycogen

However, there are 2 fats;

  • Omega-3

  • Omega-6

that you need as an essential part of our diet that your body cannot produce, so must be obtained in your diet.

You can get these 2 omegas in the following foods;

Omega 3

  • Fish – Salmon, Mackerel & Sardines

  • Seeds – Chia Seeds & Flaxseeds

  • Nuts – Walnuts

  • Cod Liver Oil

Omega 6

  • Nuts – Pine & Pistachios

  • Seeds – Flaxseed, Pumpkin & Sunflower

  • Oil – Hempseed, Flaxseed & Grapeseed

However, when choosing what to eat you need to know that different foods contain different types of fat which impact your body differently.

Different Types Of Fat

There are several different types of fat that can be found in foods in your diet.

Each type of fat;

  • Saturated

  • Unsaturated

  • Trans fat

Effects your body’s cholesterol levels in a different way and should be included in the diet in varying amounts.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is made in the body by the liver but can also be found in some foods.

It plays a vital role in how the body works and is used to make vitamin D, some hormones as well as bile for digestion.

However, whilst we need cholesterol, too much of it in your blood can increase the risk of heart disease.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat occurs naturally in many foods but can mostly be found in animal sources i.e. meat and dairy. Examples include;

  • Fatty beef

  • Chicken with the skin on

  • Butter

  • Cheese

  • Palm and coconut oils

Eating a lot of saturated fat increases your bad (LDL) cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Unsaturated Fat

Unsaturated fats come in 2 main forms;

  • Polyunsaturated

Polyunsaturated fats help to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol and provide essential fats that your body needs but cannot produce itself, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

The fats can be found in oils (soybean, corn and sunflower) and fish (salmon, mackerel and trout).

  • Monounsaturated

Monounsaturated fats also help to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol and can be found in a variety of oils (olive, canola, peanut and sesame) and other sources such as avocados and peanut butter.

Unsaturated fats can have a positive effect on your health when eaten in moderation and should be used to reduce or replace the amount of saturated and trans fats in your diet.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are usually found in small amounts in meat and dairy products but are also artificially created because they’re easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time.

Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels and can increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

However, due to its adverse effects on health, the use of trans fats has been reduced or restricted in many countries.

Different cheese on a wooden board

How Much Fat Do You Need?

Fat is an essential part of your diet, but it is also the most calorie dense of the 3 macronutrients.

There is no doubt you need to include fat as part of your daily calorie intake.

However, when training regularly and eating to maximise your results you’d be smart to;

How do you know how much fat is enough?

The general recommendation and one I’ve used and given myself is to have approximately 30% of your daily calorie intake made up from fat.

For the most part, this is a solid strategy.

However, depending on your daily calorie needs, making 30% of your daily calorie intake up from fat can lead to an unnecessarily high fat intake.

When this is the case, a recommendation of 15 – 20% of your daily calorie intake from fat is proposed.

Ultimately, provided you get at least 0.3 g of fat per lb of fat-free mass you’ll be eating enough to maintain health (1).

Where Can You Get Fat From?

Fat can be found in a huge amount of different food items including but not limited to;

  • Eggs

  • Cheese

  • Fish

  • Nuts

  • Avocado

  • Olive oil, coconut oil and almond oil

How To Calculate Your Fat Intake

Using a 170lb male an example let’s look at how you’d work out your daily fat intake for fat loss.

30% of Daily Calories

2,040 x 0.3 = 612 calories

To work out what this in grams we divide it by 9, which is the number of calories per gram of fat.

612 / 9 = 68 grams

Once we’ve taken away the 612 calories for fat and 680 calories for protein from your diet this leaves you with 748 calories for carbs.

20% of Daily Calories

2,040 x 0.2 = 408 calories

To work out what this in grams we divide it by 9, which is the number of calories per gram of fat.

408 / 9 = 45 grams

Once we’ve taken away the 408 calories for fat and 680 calories for protein from your diet this leaves you with 952 calories for carbs.

For a full guide on how to calculate your daily calories and all macronutrients to lose fat or build muscle, download my FREE diet eGuide here.

Takeaway Point

Fat is one of 3 macronutrients along with protein and carbohydrate.

It provides 9 calories per gram and is a vital part of a balanced diet, particularly when training to build or maintain muscle.

It helps to;

  • Absorb fat-soluble vitamins

  • Maintain cell membranes

  • Produce hormones

  • Maintain a normal core body temperature

  • And can also be used as energy by the body in the absence of glucose and/or glycogen

The research backed recommended for daily intake when strength training is;

  • 15 – 30% based on your total body weight


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