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Fat is a food group that is very often misunderstood. Over the years it has managed to pick up a bad reputation when actually it is an essential part of a healthy balance diet. Here we set the record straight with all the facts and help you tell the difference between 'good' and 'bad' fats.
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The General Facts

  • Fat is an essential food group as it helps maintain optimal immune functioning, fights disease, protects organs and carries vitamins and minerals.
  • Essential fats, such as omega 3, are imporant for our health but can’t be produced in our bodies so need to be obtained through food.  However they should be consumed in moderation and in line with dietary requirements. Read more about Omega 3
  • Fats can also influence how much and how often we eat. Consuming fat with a meal improves satiety (how full we feel) and regulates blood sugar by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates.
  • You may find that you stay fuller for longer after eating a meal that contains fat but beware, fats can improve the taste of a meal and may drive you to actually eat more.

Fat In The Diet

  • In endurance sports, fat is used as a fuel for the body; the use of fat depends on the intensity and duration of exercise. Burning fat in exercise is slow and it requires a lot of oxygen, therefore it is easier to do so at lower intensities. If you up the intensity then you struggle to get enough energy from fat stores therefore carbohydrates are more beneficial.
  • Consumption of fat should not fall below 15% of total energy intake as it has been shown to limit performance and may have adverse health effects. The advice would be to have between 20%-35% of energy intake coming from fat, with elite athletes aiming for the lower end of this range.
  • Trained athletes use fat more readily for energy then none-trained individuals. You can used fasted training to help train your body to use these store.

Check out the picture above for some healthy fats ideas.


Understanding Saturated Vs Unsaturated

Saturated Fats

Some times called “bad fats,” as they increase the total LDL and blood cholesterol levels in the body. When consumed in high amounts, these fats are believed to affect blood circulation due to slow accumulation in arteries, which later on can result in heart disease. They are easy to spot as they stay hard at room temperatures. Saturated fats can be found in many animal products such as meat, eggs, dairy and seafood. Saturated fat is often found in pre-packaged foods because they don’t tend to spoil quickly. However, you don’t need to completely avoid saturated fats, unless advised to, but it is good to be aware of the consequences of eating too much.

Unsaturated Fats

Now these are your healthy, good fats and can be usually found at liquid at normal room temperatures. Sources of unsaturated fats include olive oil, almonds, pistachios, avocado and walnuts. And this is also the category that omega 3 fish oil falls into. Unsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol levels in the body as well as maintain a healthy heart. But that does not mean you can consume an unlimited amount, but it means it is better to choose these fats to make up your 20-35% intake.


Understanding food labels

Be aware, when a product shows a reduction of fat this doesn’t always mean healthy. Make sure you check the sugar content as often low fat foods are high in sugar. And did you know that sugar when not burnt off actually turns to fat. You have been warned!! It is often healthier to go for foods that are natural and have not been ‘played’ with.



The Omega-3 Facts
Read Article
The Importance of Carbohydrates
Read Article

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