The Low-Down on Fats
Fat is bad according to popular belief. I'm sure you've all heard that before. This is not necessarily the case. In fact, if you eat too little fat, you could be at risk of bringing on the very health problems you have been trying to prevent.
Some fats are vital for life. In particular, the 'essential fatty acids', which have to be provided by food because they can't be manufactured by our bodies. EFA's are responsible for maintaining cell membranes and the production of hormones, including those that regulate both the female menstrual cycle and sex drive. Fat also has a crucial role in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, including Vitamin D, which helps make strong bones and Vitamin E, which is vital for a healthy heart. In addition it provides insulation for the body to stay warm and protects all the vital internal organs such as the heart. The essential fatty acids also aid in the reduction of time required for recovery by fatigued muscles after exercise by clearing away lactic acid. They are also responsible for the production of Prostaglandins, a group of hormones important in metabolism. They also assist in the formation of skin and hair, assist in wound healing and growth enhancement. So, as you can see, fat is actually crucial for our good health. The key is to eat the right amounts and the right types of fat.
Strange as it may sound, if you are aiming to lose weight and you eat too little fat, it may become harder to lose weight. Doctor Udo Erasmus(author of Fats that heal, fats that kill), claims that people who eat low amounts of naturally occurring oils have a more sluggish metabolism and a tendency to gain weight. The reason, he says, is that these foods provide essential fatty acids that help burn fat by assisting in the the transport of fat burning oxygen to the body's tissues.
According to the World Health Organization, we need a minimum of 32g of fat daily to protect our health. But you can't get away from the fact that too much fat, especially the wrong types,is bad for us, contributing to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
As you become more active, your body fat will naturally fall and your lean muscle mass will increase. The consensus on the recommended healthy fat intake for sports people is between 15 and 30 percent of your calories--in line with with World Health Organization(30% of calories). Again, the key is to eat the right types of fat. Most of these calories should come from vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, oily fish, natty peanut butter and avocados. A tablespoon of oil is roughly 11-14 grams of fat and a handful of nuts is roughly about 10g of fat. Because all of our bodies are different, we can't say what amount of fat will work best for you. As long as you are taking in the proper types of fats, you can't go wrong in my opinion.
An easy guideline to follow would be to eat MORE of these:
*Nuts(the natural unsalted kind)
*Vegetable oils(for cooking, opt for monounsaturates, olive, sesame or sunflower)
*Oily fish(or take a Flaxseed Supplement)
*Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
*Hemp Seed Oil
*Evening Primrose Oil(great for the ladies!)
and eat LESS of these:
*Butter, margarine and fat spreads
*Creams and full fat cheeses
If you haven't had the chance to read Udo Erasmus' "Fats that heal, Fats that Kill", do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It is an amazing book, chock full of information.
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