Living healthy and enjoying life, for some it seems like a choice that is either one or the other. But does it have to be? In this week’s Fit Talk, our fit expert Julie talks about fats and what to remember about them.
Eat better, not less.
When we want to lose a couple pounds, we seem to get rid of all fatty foods in our daily routine and think this is the best and quickest solution to do this. But is this the good way to go?
The answer is, NO!
We actually do need fat for a lot of things. First, fat is an important source of energy. No less than 20 to 40% of our energy comes out of this source, 1 gram of fat equals 9kcal of energy! So scratching fat from your diet, means getting rid of your body-fuel and causes your body to get energy from other places as breaking of muscle tissue. Something we really don’t want!
Second, fat makes us take on vitamins like vitamins A, D and E in our intestinal flora which is essential to reduce the risk of heart failure next to that it can cause a hormonal imbalance which can cause depression.
What should you do?
Make sure to make better choices when it comes to food. This means replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat. These fats lower your bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. You can find a lot of unsaturated fat in nuts, avocado, seeds and vegetable oils.
Vegetable fats contain less fat (but more unsaturated fats) than animal fats and are therefore healthier. Side note, watch out with solid vegetable fats such as coconut fat and solid margarine, if you use them, use them to heat and bake.
Unsaturated fats are more suitable for cold use because when heated, trans-fats can form. So use it for short preparations at low temperatures or just cold. A little trick to recognize good unsaturated vegetable fat is to check if it’s soft or liquid at room temperature.
In this group, we also make a distinction between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Single means that they have one double bond in their structure. Multiple is therefore logically a structure with 2 or more double bonds. The more double bonds, the more flexible and liquid this type of fat is.
The omegas fall under the unsaturated fats; omega-9 is monounsaturated and omega-3 & 6 are polyunsaturated. Polyunsaturated fats are built into cell membranes to make them sturdy and flexible, they also regulate your immune system; omega-6 is to turn on the system, omega-3 is to turn off this system. Therefore it’s important to ensure a good balance of both, an immune system that is on unnecessarily for a long time and too often wastes a lot of energy.
You can find omega-6 in most vegetable oils like sunflower oil, corn and soybean oil. Plant sources of omega-3 include algae oil supplements, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and rapeseed oil.
It’s always important to keep an eye on the amount of fat your body takes in per day, even if it’s unsaturated fat.
What to avoid?
The most tempting yet worst kind of fat to avoid is trans-fat which you mostly find in processed food; cookies, pastry, snacks, fried food,… They can increase the amount of bad cholesterol, increase your insulin and increase pro-inflammatory substances.
It’s safe to say that these are ok to cut out of your meal plan yet once in a while treat yourself with as well. Because we all know by now that restrictive diets don’t work and are difficult to maintain. That is why it is essential to scratch the word ‘diet’ from your vocabulary and replace it by a positive, fit and healthy lifestyle altogether.
Do you need help towards a fit and healthy lifestyle, take a look at the fit coaching program Time For You Consulting is offering!