Why Fat Is Important in Our Diet & Selecting Good Fat Choices – Eating A Balanced Diet Before and After Your Workouts

Let’s talk fat. I think we have finally gotten away from blaming this big hitter for all our woes. Fat is important. Fat caloric values are worth twice the fuel the other two contribute. No wonder we store it so well. When our bodies are overfed we store fat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, our bodies are amazing! They know we are feeding to get ready for something, so they hang onto the fuel. Fat helps us feel satisfied, full longer, and it gives us more bang for the buck when it comes to energy. As with carbohydrates we need to make smart choices about our fat intake.

Our bodies need fat to function, many of our vitamins need fat to be absorbed, so it is important to choose wisely and make sure to get the right amount and types of fat in your diet.
Here are some examples of good and bad fats taken from Heathcastle.com

The “Good” Fats
Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Nuts including peanuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios, avocado, canola and olive oil are high in MUFAs. MUFAs have also been found to help in weight loss, particularly body fat. Click here for more weight loss nutrition tips.

Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Seafood like salmon and fish oil, as well as corn, soy, safflower and sunflower oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Omega 3 fatty acids belong to this group.

The “Not so Good” Fats
Saturated Fats
Saturated fats rise total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs and seafood. Some plant foods are also high in saturated fats such as coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.

Trans Fats
Trans fats are invented as scientists began to “hydrogenate” liquid oils so that they can withstand better in food production process and provide a better shelf life. As a result of hydrogenation, trans fatty acids are formed. Trans fatty acids are found in many commercially packaged foods, commercially fried food such as French Fries from some fast food chains, other packaged snacks such as microwaved popcorn as well as in vegetable shortening and hard stick margarine.

Eating A Balanced Diet

Choosing healthy foods can be confusing. Especially when we are so removed from where our food comes from and how it is grown. It is important to start with the basics and learn how to balance your diet.

Food can be confusing. I advocate a diet without labeled foods (whole foods) and eating an abundance of colors (fruits and vegetables). If you must read a label, choose a small ingredient list (listed from most to least). Try to avoid processed foods with long ingredient lists, especially if the majority of the list you cannot pronounce, and those full of artificial flavors and colors.

Fat and carbs are not the bad guys, they are simply fuel for our bodies. Protein has a nutritional benefit; however, it can cause problems if taken in great quantities. An educated consumer has the means to make wonderful food choices each day. We have a plethora of foods available to us, more than at any other time in history. Educate yourself about food so you understand what you are putting in your body, because you are what you eat – for better or worse.

In the next few weeks we’ll look at carbs, protein, and fats individually so you’ll have the tools you’ll need to make educated food choices

Obesity Rates Are Rising

Many people are trying to lose weight. This is no surprise as more than 60% of our population is overweight and obesity has become one of the top health concerns, even surpassing smoking. But unlike smoking, weight gain may not have been 100% personal decision.

big guy weighing himself in the morning and shocked by what he sees

First, food company marketing budgets are huge. Companies spend a lot of money figuring out how to sell their products. Small, local farmers selling non-patented things like vegetables don’t stand a chance in the marketing arena. However, we still have choices, and we need to make good choices about what we eat.

Second, we are busy people. Many have been removed from their food supply for more than a generation and have no idea how or where their food is grown or created. Until recently I had no idea you could make cheesecake in your own kitchen! We’ve been duped by our trusting nature giving away power in our food choices just because it was packaged good, tasted close enough, and was easy. Unfortunately, these choices have allowed us to take in extra calories without expending more – ta-da extra weight.

Third, portion sizes are bigger than ever before. This portion growth happened over time and many have no idea what a good portion size is anymore. This portion distortion causes us to overeat just because it the food is sitting on our plate.

The above reasons aren’t so you can blame big industry, your job, or restaurants for extra weight you carry. Instead look at them as educational tools. Now that you know these problems are contributing – how are you going to change your eating choices?

Food is Just Fuel

Do you have trouble deciding how to feel about food? Do you wonder if you should be adding or eliminating a food group based on the most recent diet craze? Help your relationship with food by reframing how you think about it. Food is just fuel…

Let’s talk about fat. Its not an evil three letter word as some may think, its really just about fuel. I like this analogy:
You live next to a gas station, right next door. Every day you back out of your garage and drive your car the long way to the station (around the block), fill up the tank, drive the long way home and put the car back in the garage. What happens? You haven’t driven far enough to refuel each day and your gas tank would overflow, right?

What’s so different about that and the way you may be eating? Food is fuel. Overeating and under working cause your body to overflow. Unlike a car, your body places excess fuel in storage as fat. Now the really cool part: Carbs have been on the bad list for awhile, but finally starting to get out of the doghouse, yea, Carbs are your bodies first choice for energy because they are easily accessible and they burn fast. Protein is next, but it takes longer to convert, and finally fat comes on board. Wanna know why? Because your body is smart. Very smart. Instead of storing everything as the macro nutrient it originally was, it stores it as fat because fat gives us more bang for our buck. When we convert these fuel sources we are turning calories into energy and fat gives us more than twice the amount protein and carbs do per gram.

So when you consume more calories than you burn your body says, “hmmm, I don’t need these now, but maybe I will soon, so I’ll save them.” Just like a little kid with candy, your body puts the extra in its pocket., however unlike the child, your body doesn’t use it until it is needed. Absolutely amazing!

When to Weigh In

Many people like to use body weight as a motivating factor to stay focused on their fitness goals. Beware of getting caught in the number trap.

Weight is important, but please don’t let it be your success or failure mark. Many things change throughout the month, and as your body cycles (both men and women) your body weight will change. This is true during the day as well, you will weigh different in the morning than the evening. Your body weight may fluctuate around 5lbs in a day – so how can that be a great indicator? Plain and simple it isn’t.
If you must weigh yourself, do so on the same day of the month and at the same time each weigh-in. It is easiest to do this when you wake up, you’ll be able to wear the same thing and generally have eaten the same thing prior to weighing – nothing for approximately 8 hours. You can weigh yourself in between your monthly weigh-in but I caution you to not be too tied to that number instead use it to keep you focused on working out.

Finally, remember a weight measurement in fitness is a time measurement. To get the most accurate idea of how you are doing you must track this measurement over a period of time.