Fat is Your Friend

Consistent exercise tends to rev up your appetite - no surprise there! It’s important to adjust your energy intake to account for what you are expending during your workouts (exactly how much will depend on your weight goals), but as discussed in previous posts, you need to consider the sources of those additional calories to keep your hunger in check.

Fat, fiber and protein each contribute towards feeling fuller longer. Fat in particular is your friend when it comes to meeting increased energy needs and feeling satisfied, as it packs in more calories per gram compared to protein and carbs (9 versus 4) and makes food taste great. Yet I still see clients who are trying to be “healthy” and lose body fat by overly limiting fat in the diet. Fat itself is not fattening; eating too much and especially eating more carbs than your body needs to burn for energy will lead to increased fat production. At the other end of the spectrum, some people are exploring very high fat and low carb diets to get lean. Let’s steer clear of these extremes, and embrace fat as a delicious and important part of your everyday balanced diet.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to fat:

  • For years the nutrition world said to limit saturated fat, but research has shown that not all saturated fats are unhealthy. For example, higher fat dairy and coconut products in moderation are fine, so go ahead and use some butter in your cooking and sprinkle some unsweetened coconut flakes in your oatmeal!

  • Similarly, foods rich in cholesterol do not necessarily affect the levels of cholesterol in your blood. Egg yolks are high in fat and cholesterol, but also packed with other key nutrients and taste great, so don't throw them away. Generally, 2-3 whole eggs 4-5 times a week is fine. If eating eggs more often or in larger quantities, or if you have a history of high cholesterol or heart disease, then you should consider reducing the number of yolks (e.g. 3-4 whites + 1-2 yolks).

  • Trans fats, on the other hand, should still be avoided completely.

  • Certain polyunsaturated fats (e.g. omega 3’s found in wild salmon, flax/chia seeds, & walnuts) are essential, meaning our bodies need but cannot make them, so it’s especially important to include them in what you eat. Other types of unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts/seeds, and everyone’s favorite - avocado - are also beneficial to health.

  • If you are seeking weight loss, adding more fat can help if replacing refined carbs in your diet. More and more studies are showing that refined carbs/sugars are the true enemy when it comes to obesity and chronic diseases - that is what we should be focused on reducing. Just make sure you pay attention to portion sizes, given that fat is so energy dense.

  • Lastly, including fat in each meal is important because it allows your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. So if you're having a salad, for example, add some nuts, seeds, avocado, and/or vinaigrette to help your body absorb all the good stuff in those veggies!

As always, feel free to email me at eatforendurance@gmail.com if you have questions or would like to schedule an individualized nutrition consultation.

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