Fitness

Fat is Fuel, Not Foe (Part 3)

Welcome to the last installment in our series on fat. We have already seen that fat is an important part of a balanced diet, can help us lose weight, and will help improve our heart health! 

If you have not read the first two articles, make sure you check them out here! 

While we are certainly not all destined to become marathon runners, nearly anyone can – with the right foundation and approach – incorporate some sort of running routine into their lives.

Part 1 / Part 2

Today we will conclude our series by looking at some of the psychological barriers to changing our cultural views on fat and then how to best utilize fat in our daily lives. 

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The Psychology of Fat

Fat is required for keeping our bodies working at their best.

Our brains, nerves, and cells all depend on fat to work properly. However, it can sometimes be hard to get past the psychological fear of gaining fat from eating fat.  

We have become obsessed with food quantity when it is quality that makes all the difference. We have mistaken weight loss for fat loss, and being skinny for being healthy.

Just the fact that fatty acids derived from food and adipose tissue are both referred to as FAT makes this a difficult issue.

It takes an open mind to reprogram our thoughts and behaviors, but it is going to be important if we are going to have any chance of healing.  

So let’s look at fat in a new light. Let’s think of fat as: 

-The stuff that makes up 70% of our brains.

-The only macronutrient capable of transporting vitamins A, D, E, and K into our bodies.

-A key player in hair and skin health.

-One of the main structural components of our cells.

-Necessary for optimal functioning of the nervous system.

-One of the important players in calcium absorption (bone density).

Fat is not just important, it is vital! We cannot live without the right fats, and our bodies function best when we have the right number of calories coming from fat. 

How to Use Fat

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Here is what I feel is the best strategy to make sure you are taking in the right fats:

1) Eat grass-fed/wild-caught animals.

These animal products have a beautiful balance of fats, while also providing a variety of vitamins and minerals that are stored in the fat.

If you are unable to do so, find lean cuts of grain-fed meat and supplement with fish oil. While this is not optimal, it can be much cheaper and will help you to avoid the toxins stored in the fat of grain-fed animals.

2) Eat more avocados, olives, and coconut products.

Avocados and olives are a wonderful source of monounsaturated fat and can be great for snacking or for adding to other meals.

Coconut products are full of medium-chain saturated fats which have a host of beneficial properties. Choose between coconut oil for cooking, coconut milk for drinking, coconut butter or flakes to add as toppings, or just straight coconut for eating! 

3) Use saturated fat for cooking.

Saturated fat is the most stable type of fat when exposed to heat, so using fats such as coconut oil, butter (grass-fed is best, look for Organic Valley Pasture Butter or Kerrygold Irish Butter), and animal fats are best used for cooking.

If you are worried about animal fat, just make sure you buy it from a grass-fed source. Your farmer’s market should have a grass-fed beef stand, and I am sure they would be happy to sell you some of the fat.  

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4) Use monounsaturated fats as dressing. Oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, and macadamia nut oil can be great on salads.

I prefer these as dressings because while more stable than polyunsaturated fats, I still worry about cooking with them.

They should be all right for low-temperature cooking and baking, but I prefer to just add them cold.

5) Avoid vegetable oils, and use nuts and seeds as you would a condiment. Nuts and seeds can be a tasty addition to any meal, you just don’t want to go through a bag of almonds every day. Think of them as a topping and enjoy their flavoring.

There are tons of ways to include fats, but the goal should always be to use the right fat for the right reason.

Start thinking about how you use fats on a daily basis and see where there is an opportunity to make a change for the better.

That concludes our series on fat. I encourage all of you to continue to learn about fats and experiment with them in your diet.

You can read all you want, but until you start playing around with some of this stuff there is no way to know how it will affect your health.

So figure out where you can make a change in your current diet and start getting in those healthy fats today!

Mint Condition Fitness is the leading fitness coaching studio for men and women over 45 to lose weight, build strength, and stay active for life.