Yes another precious week on this journey we are all on to become LOVE – essentially that is the sum of life and all the situations it presents us with to grow into our fullest potential and inspire others to do the same in their lives.
Well this post is to spread the wisdom “YOU NEED TO EAT FAT TO BURN FAT!” This mantra was a challenge for a lot of our clients on WEEK 2/3 of PHASE 1 – DETOX of Be Fit Hub’s FIRST WAVE of “Power Foods Diet”. All participants were encouraged to eat pasteurised meat and fatty fish, cook with coconut and olive oil, dress their greens with more olive oil as well as snack on almonds, brazil nuts and walnuts… Most of us are on a diet to lose weight or gain weight… and in the background you all hear the same advice being thrown around all the time: “FATS ARE BAD, BAD, BAD!!!” WAKE UP – this is simply not true! Yes, some types of fats can be categorized as harmful, but other fats when used correctly can be very beneficial. Fats have been given a bad reputation due to the fact that high intakes of bad fat are associated with heart disease and cancer.
Dietary fats are important for metabolic processes such as energy production. Fat has twice as many calories as protein and carbohydrate, providing 9 calories per gram, so it’s the most concentrated source of energy you can get. Higher fat diets play a major role in the ideal lean muscle growing/bodybuilding lifestyle. In an optimum state fats fuel much of your daily activities. Dietary fats help you absorb important fat soluble vitamins like vitamin E, D, and A.
Fats also slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream which keeps blood sugar levels from spiking. This keeps energy levels constant and also keeps the body burning fat for fuel. Eating fat can actually help keep you lean!
Many hormones in the body, including testosterone, are dependent on fats for optimal production and function. And what do we need “T” for? Mmm… “LEAN MUSCLE GROWTH”!
The bigger picture… there are three macronutrients being protein, fat, and carbohydrates and all perform essential roles in the human body. Macronutrients are the main components of our diet. Our bodies require others nutrients as well, such as vitamins and minerals. However, these are needed in much smaller quantities, and thus are referred to as micronutrients. All three macronutrients are needed in the diet, as each perform vital functions in the body.
The truth is we used to try to avoid fat, but we still gained weight. Now we know that we need some fats in our daily diet to keep ourselves healthy, avoiding all fats can be detrimental to our health. The healthy fats are known to us as the “good” fats.
We all know natural fats as either saturated or unsaturated.
Saturated fats are mainly from animal fats like butter (not organic and not from grass-fed cows), cream and various cuts of beef. These fats are solid fats and are not good for us in large quantities over time.
Unsaturated fats are mainly oils from vegetables like olive oils, as well as the oils that we get from seeds, nuts, eggs, oily fish and leafy green vegetables. These are all needed, as they give us the essential fatty acids that we need from the groups Omega 3 and Omega 6. It is important that you are getting the correct ratio of Omega 3:6 in your daily diet, it is essential for good health and can protect us against certain disorders and food allergies.
In detail these essential fatty acids are needed in the body for many reasons:
– Healthy hormone production
– Healthy immune system
– Protect our internal organs
– Help improve cholesterol levels
– Fuel to burn when needed
– Keep our skin & hair healthy
– Maintaining our mental stability
– To assist in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K, which we need for healthy growth and development.
Unfortunately due to lack of nutrition education most people tend to eat too many saturated fats! It’s hard to avoid them with the packaged and processed food product that we find on the supermarket shelves. When you are next thinking about cutting the fat on your diet to lose weight, don’t include the “good” ones as you need them for a healthy diet.
Let’s define the fats that are extremely good for you. These fats convey abundant benefits including aiding in the achievement of optimal body composition, the prevention of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
1. Eat Lots of Omega-3 Fats
The fat derived from fatty fish is extremely important for a healthy body.
Note: The omega-3 fats are actually called essential fatty acids (EFAs) and you must eat them in order for the body to function properly.
The EFAs support body composition because they are incorporated into the outside lipid layer of cells. This improves insulin signaling to the cells, which allows for a better metabolism, whereas a diet high in carbohydrates and low in EFAs and other fats is very sluggish, leading to one destination – fat gain! Other benefits of EFAs are brain protection and lower inflammation throughout the body, and this allows for decreased cancer and heart disease risk.
Omega-3s are found in fish, fish oil, organic and pastured meat and dairy, and flaxseeds.
2. Use Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is very high in medium chain fatty acids, which have been shown to promote health, aid brain function, and improve body composition by helping you burn fat! Recently a study found that when Malayans ate 30 ml of coconut oil with each meal for a month they lost a small amount of body fat (about 1 pound) and significantly decreased waist circumference.
Do make sure the coconut oil you buy is “virgin” and not partially hydrogenated—this is extremely important as the fatty chain is not the same.
Begin cooking with coconut oil in place of vegetable oils. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and can be treated like butter in recipes. It has a high smoke point (around 350 degrees) and this makes it ideal for stir-frying.
3. Eat Butter
Butter is good for your body as long as it’s organic and from grass-fed cows. Butter contains lots of fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin K, which is particularly important for bone health because it enables calcium metabolism. In addition, it has conjugated linoleic acid, which is a potent cancer fighter and has been found to produce fat loss when it is eaten daily.
Butter also contains medium chain fatty acids, which don’t enter the cholesterol cycle, and although butter is high in saturated fats, it won’t raise “bad” LDL cholesterol. Reality check – when eaten without an abundance of high carbohydrate foods, animal-derived saturated fat is benign!
Eat butter however you desire, just make sure it is from grass-fed cows. Avoid margarine, butter substitutes, and opt for a lower carb diet full of complex carbs from vegetables for best health results.
4. Eat Avocado, Olive Oil & Nuts
Avocado, olive oil, and tree nuts have all been called “anti-obesity” foods by food scientists as they all provide omega-6 fats. When Omega 6 are eaten in balance with omega-3s, then fats are extremely good for you.
There’s much confusion about omega-6 fats because the typical Western diet is dangerously high in isolated, processed omega-6 fats in the form of vegetable oil. Those are fats you want to avoid, but avocado, unrefined, virgin olive oil (or olives), and tree nuts aren’t processed and can improve body composition, while countering inflammation. Bonus – if you eat any of these fats with vegetables, the fat actually bolsters absorption of vitamins and nutrients in vegetables.
Add avocado, olive oil and nuts to salads, or cooked vegetable dishes.
5. Go Low-Carb & Avoid All Food Product
Food Product is processed foods and are easily recognised as they are packaged and don’t resemble their natural state. The biggest culprit is man-made fats and processed carbohydrates as they both produce chaos in the body because they elevate blood sugar quickly and lead to a lot of insulin being released. Aside from making you feel sluggish, this produces oxidative stress and encourages you to hold/gain fat.
Most people have accepted that man-made trans fats are BAD news, but the idea that processed low-fat foods are also horrible for you is taking longer to sink in thanks to powerful and persuasive advertising from food companies as well as government endorsed health bodies!
Possibly this is because it’s very counterintuitive that processed carbohydrates, many of which are “non-fat” and “low-fat,” cause cholesterol buildup. Think about this scenario in regards to the digestion of “non-fat” and “low-fat” food product… when the fat is removed from the products, they are digested very quickly and the carbohydrates hit the blood sugar with a bang, producing inflammation and high cholesterol.
This is where George and myself step in as your Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach to define your best macronutrient breakdown for fat loss? “Power Foods Diet” is built on the template 40/40/20.
First and foremost, your macronutrient breakdown is obviously very goal dependent. Meaning, that these numbers would most likely be different whether one’s goal is primarily fat loss or muscle gain in contrast to the level of training you are at.
In the end, the wisest approach is to focus on how much of each macronutrient you’re eating per pound of bodyweight. You could be eating 40/40/20 every day, but if you’re eating 10000 calories a day, it doesn’t matter.
By using percentages: 40% protein + 40% fats + 20% carbohydrates you’re working on a ‘relative’ scale (relative to your total calories)…
Next week’s post we will delve into this in much more… here is a taster: there are potential disadvantages to using this approach. For example, 40% of 1500 calories is a lot different than 40% of 2500 calories. This approach fails to take into consideration overall caloric intake, which is affected by a number of different variables – the amount of muscle you carry and whether your dieting for fat loss or more focused on muscle gain for example as well as your training level and style.
So while the percentage is constant, the absolute number of protein, carbohydrates, or fat grams is much different, and this is what is important – how much you’re putting in your mouth!!! Even with what seems like good percentages, you could still be getting too little or too much of any macronutrient and this is where you need professionals to assist you creating your unique menu plan.
What matters is how much you’re eating, not the relative amount of one macronutrient to another. The most important aspect of any Nutrition Program is the overall calories; how much you’re eating for your body. The most important elements are setting the right caloric intake, and getting adequate protein and essential fatty acids. As for carbohydrates they need to be from a plant base for most people on a mission for optimum fitness and for those working at an athlete/competitive level this may need a slight variance and inclusion of brown rice to meet their macronutrient requirements.
In summary eat GOOD FATS, eat PROTEINS THAT HAD A FACE and eat COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES that look like they came from a country garden! YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! xx