Most of us can easily remember the era when fat was considered the number-one “no-no” to avoid when maintaining a healthy diet and keeping one’s weight within healthy limits. In fact, there’s an entire generation of people out there that grew up believing the best, most effective way to shed unwanted pounds was to follow a fat-free diet to the letter.
These days, we understand that fat isn’t necessarily the enemy when it comes to maintaining a balanced diet or a healthy weight. However, the exact opposite is true. The right types of dietary fat consumed in sensible amounts are an essential part of any solid diet plan. The following are just a few of the most important reasons to overcome your fear of including small amounts of healthy fat in yours.
Fat consumption is critical for energy production.
Anyone that’s ever tried to get through a workout or their shift at work on an empty stomach already knows how important energy is when it comes to productivity. No one can be their best or do their best when they’re tired and rundown. A balanced diet that includes all three types of basic macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and fat—is the key to maintaining adequate, steady energy levels.
According to the professional health team at UCLA, each gram of dietary fat a person takes in translates to 9 calories worth of energy. Carbs and protein generate less than half that, at around 4 calories per gram each. Without enough fat in your diet, you have to consume greater amounts of the other two options just to keep going. Fat calories should comprise approximately 20% of your caloric intake. This should come from sources of healthy fats, such as salmon, fish oil, olive oil, avocado, or nuts.
Fat is important to your cardiovascular health.
If you’re like many people, fitness and nutrition are priorities to you because they’re essential parts of maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. However, keeping your heart, lungs, and other related organs going strong is about a lot more than simply picking up the pace in the cardio room at the gym. Dietary fats, such as fish oil, play a particularly important role when it comes to heart health and the prevention of heart disease.
Yes, eating too much fat is bad for your heart, but so is eating too little. 20% of your daily caloric intake is the right amount. Lipoprotein is a substance thought by many experts to be a direct factor in the development of heart disease. The presence of the correct amount of fat in your system helps reduce dangerous lipoprotein levels and keep them in check, so make it a point to include foods high in heart-healthy fats in your diet.
Fat helps your body efficiently absorb certain essential vitamins.
It’s not just your energy levels that suffer when you’re not getting enough fat in your diet. You could be hindering your body’s ability to absorb enough essential micronutrients as well. Prime examples include fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Not only does your body absorb these through fat cells, but it stores them that way as well.
As is the case with any other type of vitamin deficiency, failing to get enough of these important compounds can result in numerous health problems. For instance, vitamin D helps facilitate the growth of healthy bones and cells, as well as boosts immune health. It’s also one of the most likely micronutrients a given person might be deficient in, so it’s critical that your system properly absorb and metabolize what you do take in. Deficiencies in other fat-soluble vitamins can lead to blood clotting issues, skin problems, night blindness, and fertility issues as well.
Fat keeps your brain healthy and functioning.
Your brain isn’t just any organ. It’s an organ that’s composed primarily of fat. Once you know that, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to cut all fat out of your diet if you’re serious about maintaining proper brain function. The consumption of saturated fat is especially important when it comes to providing your brain with the basic nourishment it needs for regeneration and maintenance.
It’s also important to realize that the neurons in your brain and throughout your nervous system are protected by a coating of myelin, a substance that’s approximately 70% fat. Quite a large portion of that fat is derived from oleic acid, in particular. Healthy food sources that are high in this important compound include but are not limited to avocados, as well as almonds, pecans, and many other nuts. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are also important for efficient brain function and include fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines.
Fat helps you conquer cravings.
Naturally, your body is less concerned with whether or not you model-perfect in your favorite swimsuit than it is staying adequately nourished. The fact that fat is calorie-rich and essential for proper system function is exactly why people tend to crave it in their diets. The more you deprive your body of this important macronutrient, the stronger those cravings are going to become.
A diet that’s too low in fat often leads the body to demand more food in general as a way to compensate. That could make saying “no” to that triple pepperoni pizza, super-sized nachos, or bacon cheeseburger a lot harder the next time you’re facing a moment of weakness. Keep cravings in check by consuming sensible amounts of healthy fats in your diet. Eating at least some healthy fat both before and after a workout or any other activity can help stop cravings from being too overwhelming when they do show up.
All things considered, a balanced diet that includes a little bit of everything (fat included) isn’t just a must for maintaining proper body function. It’s the best way to look, feel, and perform your very best.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.