by ADAM CUMMINGS Steel And Fitness
In the last decade, we as a country have seen an increase in dietary awareness. Everything is now “sugar free,” “low sodium,” “gluten free,” or “organic.” Some of the items available for purchase are simply marketing ploys for us, as Americans, to waste our hard earned money on. That is the beauty of this capitalistic country. We can pick and choose what we believe to be worth our money and what we believe to not be worth it. Luckily for this day and age we have information literally at our fingertips at any point in time. You don’t know where the nearest vegan restaurant is? Yelp it. You don’t think your friend is correct when he states “Intra-workout drinks are not beneficial to a training session”? Google it.
There is a plethora of information out there just waiting to be learned and grasped so it can be applied to better your workouts as well as potentially increasing your results. That being said, I still have friends that come up to me and say “My mom said I shouldn’t eat too many eggs because it will give me high cholesterol”. Or “I am going to cut fat out of my diet because I really want a six pack this summer.” Why do people still believe such things? The absorbent amount of he said, she said information being passed along impresses me considering this opportunistic world we live in where accessibility to the correct information is just a click away.
I am here to debunk some of the “bro science” behind the consumption of fats into your diet. I will explain to you why it is not only beneficial but imperative that you include dietary fats into your daily nutrition in order to gain lean mass, lose unwanted body fat, and overall stay a healthy functioning human being.
Fat, like everything else found in the body, has a purpose. Nobody can survive without some body fat. Even professional Bodybuilders, figure competitors, and fitness models (though sometimes it is hard to believe) have some sort of body fat. These individuals usually cut down to around 4% body fat for shows or competitions but only for a short period of time. Your body does not function properly when at super low body fat levels because fat has life preserving functions that keep the body regulated and at a proper homeostasis.
Triglycerides, cholesterol, and other essential fatty acids—the scientific term for fats the body can’t make on its own—store energy, insulate us, and protect our vital organs. They act as messengers which help proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism . Fat has many functions in the body, but the most important role it plays is its ability to be stored for and then later used as energy.
Though proteins and carbs are often thought of as the key producers of our body’s energy, fats provide roughly twice as much caloric energy at 9 Kcal per gram then proteins and carbohydrates which only provide 4 kcal per gram . We often hear people speak about their metabolisms. Some say they have a fast metabolism which makes gaining weight hard, while some others say they have a slow metabolism which makes losing weight difficult. But what is a metabolism? Metabolism is the body’s ability to convert fat into energy. It is the chemical process which breaks down fat or triglycerides into glycerol and acids which is then absorbed by the kidney, liver, and muscle tissues until completion of the chemical process . Fat is imperative to every human being, fat just like muscle allows us to do everyday things such as walking, biking, or lifting weights by giving us the energy to do so. However like everything else in life, moderation is key to staying healthy. The body will store excess fat for energy at a later time which can lead to excess weight if living more of a sedentary lifestyle.
We all know stuffing our face three times a week with cheeseburgers, pizza, and fried buffalo wings is not going help us get that six pack, so how does one eat fat to burn fat? There are several different kinds of fat found in the foods we eat but fall under two distinct categories which are saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are triglycerides that are saturated in hydrogen atoms which contain palmitic and stearic acid that can found to be solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are triglycerides that are missing hydrogen atoms.
Oleic acid which has one double carbon bond is known as monounsaturated fat and is found to be in a liquid state at room temperature as oil. Linoleic acid which has multiple double carbon bonds is known as polyunsaturated fat and is also found to be in a liquid state at room temperature . Saturated fats are known to clog your arteries but not all saturated fats are bad. Trans fatty acids are the protagonists in your diet. They are created by heat or by hydrogenation and when being digested take a lot more energy and time to breakdown which can lead to your body not having the resources available to breakdown other essential fatty acids that your body needs creating somewhat of a bottleneck in the digestive system .
With 24 known saturated fats found in nature, it is hard to believe that all saturated fats are bad for you but that is what society and the media has driven western culture to believe over the last couple of decades. Saturated fats are known to raise LDL levels in the body. LDL or low-density lipoproteins which is the “bad cholesterol” has been said to increase a person’s chances of heart disease, obesity, and stroke. What is not often made public is that there are two different kinds of LDL cholesterol in the body. Small, dense LDL particles have been found to easily penetrate the arterial wall which can lead to blockages in the arteries. Large LDL which are large and fluffy and flow easily through the arteries have been found to not be the cause of increased chances of heart disease, are imperative for the fabrication of key hormones like cortisol and testosterone, and can be found in most saturated fats .
Saturated fats found in naturally occurring foods such as beef, eggs, milk, and even bacon can lower chances of heart disease. They are known to raise good or high-density cholesterol (HDL) which transports cholesterol away from the heart and into the liver where it can be disposed of or reused. Accompanied with a lower carbohydrate diet, increased consumption of healthy natural occurring foods high in saturated fat can aid in weight-loss while simultaneously increasing vitamin absorption of important fat-soluble vitamins .
The fact that Americans are actually eating less fat than past generations seems like a paradox. In the 1960’s, fats and oils supplied Americans with roughly 45 percent of their caloric daily intake yet only about 13 percent of adults were obese and less than 1 percent had type II diabetes. Americans today receive 12 percent less calories from fats and oils and shockingly 11 percent of adults now have type II diabetes . So what is to blame for such a substantial increase in obesity and disease in such a short period of time?
The process of hydrogenation was first patented in 1902 by Wilhem Normann. 7 years later Proctor & Gamble bought the US rights to the patent, and released the first hydrogenated vegetable oil used for cooking by the name of Crisco in 1911 . By 1960 concerns were being raised about the possible correlation between hydrogenated fat consumption and raised cholesterol levels but it wasn’t until 1990 that people were informed about Trans Fatty acids ingested through hydrogenated and partial hydrogenated vegetable oils increased LDL cholesterol while simultaneously lowering HDL cholesterol levels . Even with these facts coming to light, it wasn’t until 2006 that companies were forced to include the different kinds of fats found in foods on nutritional labels.
In the end, dietary fats are imperative to maintaining proper homeostasis within the body. Evidence over the years has helped prove that incorporating the right fat into your diet will better improve your overall quality of life. By avoiding Trans Fatty acids that are commonly found in hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated cooking oils can decrease chances of diabetes, heart disease, and chances of stroke. While simultaneously incorporating mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated, omega-3, omega-6, and even certain saturated fats can lead to lean mass gains and loss of unwanted body fat. If you’re looking for that keystone to help you turn that corner to steadfast results, maybe the incorporation of more dietary fats into your daily nutritional plan is the missing link you have been waiting for.
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