Don’t be afraid of fat. Not only does it make food taste good, but it also plays an important role in a healthy, balanced diet. Learn more about the basics of fat and how it can positively affect health goals.
At 9 calories per gram, fat is the most calorie-dense of the macronutrients (carbs and protein each have 4 grams).
One of the biggest roles of fat is energy storage. Dietary fat is digested into small chains of fatty acids. After that, the fatty acid chains are picked up by intestinal cells, reassembled and packaged into vessels called chylomicrons, which are sent to muscle or fat tissue. Once the chylomicrons arrive, fatty acids are again released to be taken up by muscle and fat cells.
Therefore, significant fat breakdown occurs when your body runs on a calorie deficit. In a healthy adult, calorie deficits occur mainly by restricting calories consumed or by undergoing a tough workout.
Not only does the body burn fat during calorie deficits, but it also burns fat during normal day-to-day activities. Above all, fat is the primary source of fuel when you engage in low-intensity movements — from sitting in front of the computer to walking the dog.
Why We Need Fat
- Fat maintain healthy cells, organs and brains
- It fuels most activities
- Fat helps you feel full and maintain a more steady blood sugar level
Different Types of Fat
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
- Monounsaturated (MUFA) and Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA)
- Omega-3 and Omega-6
Target Fat Goals
- Decide what percentage of your calories you want to come from fat. Choose a 20%, 25%, 30% or 35% fat diet. After that, convert this number into a decimal (for example, 30% is 0.3).
- Multiply your “Total Calorie Goal” by the decimal value. This gives you the number of calories from fat.
- Divide the number of calories from fat by 9 to get the grams of fat.
Ways To Optimize Fat Consumption
- Eat a moderate amount of meat and dairy
- Pair with nutrient-dense foods
- Choose foods high in omega-3
- Vary your cooking oil
- Eat foods rich in healthy fats
3 Myths About Fat
- Eating fat will make you fat
- Your body only uses carbs during exercise
- Eating low-fat and non-fat foods saves calories
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