Everyone seems to be talking about fat these days. All these years you’ve been shying away from it, but current trends seem to say that fat is good now and can help with weight loss and disease prevention. You’ve heard your friends talking about how they’ve added butter to their espresso and have started losing all this weight, and now you are left feeling confused. So what exactly is fat and do you need it?
A fat is a compound based on a carbon skeleton that does not dissolve in water. Our body is able to use it as a good source of energy. But besides being used for this, it covers our nerves and plays an important role in signaling. It also protects our bones from pressure. Imagine not having fat on your bum- how uncomfortable would that be?! It is also vital for the absorption of certain nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K.
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These include omega 6 fats which are pro-inflammatory and omega 3 fats which have anti-inflammatory properties. Fats vary from another based on how saturated the bonds are between the carbon chains. Generally, you would want to include less saturated fat in your diet since it raises cholesterol. This is mainly found in animal products, but also in coconut oil – basically any fat that is solid at room temperature. Including healthier fats such as olive oil, canola oil, avocado, olives and nuts will be beneficial for you, especially from a heart perspective.
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The amount of fat needed in your diet varies from person to person. Weight loss goals, medical conditions and the level of physical activity are some factors that affect your requirements. But it is important to bear in mind that just because you include less fat in your diet, you will not gain weight. The carbon skeletons from proteins and carbohydrates can be converted to fat. This will then be stored and possibly lead to weight gain if included in excessive amounts. Seeing a dietitian will help you work out your special dietary recipe.