The types of fats
Fats can be separated into saturated, unsaturated, and Trans fats. Saturated fats come mainly from animal products such as, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, dairy and eggs. They also can be found in a handful of plant foods such as coconut, palm oil and various types of margarine. Unsaturated fats can broke down into monounsaturated fat, which can be found in olive or canola oil and polyunsaturated fats which can be found in sunflower, soybean or corn oil. Trans-fatty acids are made by refinement, usually taking place in margarines, due to margarine being a solid of an oil. Oil is fat that does not form a solid at room temperature due to the oils being unsaturated. This means that something has to be added in order for the fat to be stuck together and provide a solid structure and this is known as Tran’s fats.
Saturated fats- fats are determined by their makeup, in this case saturated fats are defined due to them containing only a single covalent bond between carbon atoms while all remaining bonds attach to hydrogen bonds. The fatty acid bonds to as many hydrogen bonds as it can becoming saturated in hydrogen and due to this saturation the term saturated fats came to be.
Unsaturated fats- these fats contain one or more double bonds along their main carbon chain, each of these double bonds reduces the number of hydrogen binding sites that can bind to the fat meaning that the fat isn’t able to become saturated in hydrogen, giving birth to the name unsaturated fat
Monounsaturated fats- being unsaturated we know that hydrogen is unable to saturate this molecule and the ‘mono’ part refers to the amount of double bonds that the fat has along its carbon chain and as ‘mono’ refers to 1 it’s safe to say this molecule has one double bond.
Polyunsaturated fats- again being unsaturated we know that hydrogen is unable to saturate this molecule and the ‘poly’ part refers to how many double bonds that the fat has along its carbon chain ‘poly’ referring to two or more carbon chains within this fat molecule.
Tran’s fatty acids- these fats also known as hydrogenated fat form when one of the hydrogen atom alongside a reconstructed carbon chain moves from its natural position to the opposite side of the double bond that separates 2 carbon atoms. Due to this transition in position the fat is known as ‘trans fat’
How do we break down fats?
Fat can be broken down within the body through a process called lipolysis, this occurs during low to moderate intensity exercise, low calorie dieting or fasting, prolonged exercise that depletes glycogen stores.
Low to moderate intensity- guidelines from research say that a moderate pace is determined by your heart rate. A heart rate at 65% is thought to be the optimal fat burning zone. To work out heart rate you need to do the calculation (220-age= x result by 0.65)
Low calorie dieting- working out your calorie intake and reducing the amount that you eat by a certain amount of calories or better yet exercise more. However this can cause you to retain your weight as during a low calorie diet your bodied hormones change in order to keep body fat on you whilst providing you with energy as you go into starvation mode your body tires to expend as little energy as possible in the hope of keeping you alive.
Fasting- refers to going long periods without food so that you become hyperglycaemic and your body starts to break down fat as an energy source. This links in with the depleted glycogen stores. Depleting your own glycogen stores can be done through fating or long periods of steady state exercise at 65% of max heart rate.
Checkout my article on the effects of fasting cardio on fat loss at erbwellbeing.weebly.com
However these are not sure fire ways to lose fat as many things can happen during lipolysis for example the fat that you can started to convert for energy can be re-esterified into fat and go straight back on those thighs or enter the blood stream and bind with blood proteins.
Incorporating fat into our diets
Through data collection it is found that the American diet consists of 34% plant based fats i.e. nuts and seeds etc, and the left over 66% is saturated fat. This doesn’t mean 34% of total diet is plant based fat and that the rest is animal fats i.e. pork, dairy and eggs. It means 34% any fats they eat. So say they only eat 100 kcal worth of fats which is about 10-11grams of fat a very low amount of fat in general. 34% of those 100 kcal would be 34 kcal and 66kcal come from animal sources. With a 100kcal as an example it doesn’t look like a lot but just remember next time you look at a packet and you see it has 11g of saturated fat on the packet that equates to 99kcal taken specifically from fats. And saturated fats have been linked with many, many ailments such as heart disease, atherosclerosis, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Fat should be incorporated into the diet but it should be incorporated through whole plant based foods i.e. nuts, seed, legumes etc rather than from animal sources. As stated above plant based foods contain unsaturated fats as opposed to saturated fats. The recommended intake varies from person to person. The UK governing body recommends 30-35% of your diet should contain fat and a majority of fat should be unsaturated. The problem with this is that most of our fat we get in our diet is from animal sources and animal sources contain mainly saturated fats, i.e. milk, eggs, pork. Research conducted by Dariush Mozaffarian et al (2010) found that consuming polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats reduced the likelihood of developing Chronic Heart Disease in Randomised Control Tests. More research taken from Martijn B Katan and Ingeborg A Brouwer et al (2010) found in a review of literature that the replacement of saturated fat by polyunsaturated fat lowers both plasma concentrations of LDL cholesterol and the LDL/HDL-cholesterol ratio. Moreover, replacement of saturated fat by polyunsaturated fat is also associated with a lower risk of CHD in prospective cohort studies and with lower risk of CHD in randomized trials.
The roles of fat in the body are: they provide an energy source, aid in the protection of vital organs, help thermal insulation (keep you warm) and they help to carry vitamins and suppress hunger cravings.
- Energy source- fat gram for gram carries way more energy than any other micronutrient and I transported and stored very easily within the body, providing a ready source of energy when needed. Fat as mentioned earlier carries 9kcal per gram which is more than double other macronutrients. These stores are only eaten into when your body is at a low to moderate intensity of exercise or if your glycogen stores have been depleted.
- Protection of vital organs and thermal insulation- up to 4% of the body’s fat protects against trauma to vital organs for example the liver, heart, kidneys, spleen, brain and spinal cord, fat beneath the skin allows individuals to withstand the cold weather. Although excess body fat can hinder temperature regulation during heat stress situations, for example during physical activity your body heat can raise up to 20 times above resting body temperature, for props in rugby have to have excess layers of fat for protection from the trauma that they go through while in rucks and mauls. Although they have to be sure that they aren’t carrying too much dead weight in order to keep their performance up.
- Vitamin carrier and hunger depressor- consuming in and around 20g of dietary fat daily provides a sufficient source and transport medium for the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K. when you go on a no fat or ow fat diet it will suppress the amount of these vitamins and ultimately lead to having vitamin deficiencies.
This should not be confused cholesterol, cholesterol isn’t all bad but it does have some bad properties to it. Cholesterol participates in many many bodily functions, including building plasma membranes and serving as a precursor in synthesising vitamin D, adrenal gland hormones, and sex hormones such as estrogen, androgen, and progesterone. It also is a key component in synthesising bile (stomach acid needed for digestion) and plays a crucial part in forming tissues, organs and body structures during foetal development. Although cholesterol also can be linked with an increased risk of coronary heart disease risks, high levels of LDL have shown in people who have a diet high in saturated fats, smoke cigarettes and are physically inactive. In people who have high amounts of cholesterol a condition called atherosclerosis, this happens when cholesterol builds up on the artery walls and thickens causing the arteries to narrow which leads to high blood pressure, the artery becoming blocked can lead to heart attacks and eventually heart failure.
From this you can see that fat is very much a double edge sword. It’s good but it’s bad at the same time, given the lifestyles we have become accustomed too. There are different types of fat and fat is important to have in your diet, although you should look to get your fats from unsaturated plant sources rather than saturated animal fats. Fats help all manner of functions within the body and they are important to the body. Although you cannot get cholesterol from plant foods your body can make cholesterol from fat already in the body. Fat can provide a massive amount of energy when to your body during exercise if your glycogen stores are depleted, then you will start to use fat as energy and burn fat off. Being at a body fat % of lower that 9% can be very bad for your body and when you see people at that fat % like bodybuilders etc. sure they look nice but they aren’t in a state of good health with a body fat % that low.
During high fat diets, they can work when it comes to weight loss as it has been proven but it has also be found that high fat diets raise the PH of the blood making it more acidic causing a condition called acidosis, which can lead to a whole load of different problems also acidosis has been associated and found in cancer patients.
From the outcome of this article i recommend that you start eating less saturated fats in your diet as they have shown to lead to a lot of different ailments.
When it comes to going on a new diet I would definitely recommend you do your own research on the matter. Currently in the Health and fitness world a ketogenic (high fat low carb) diet is very popular, but like stated in this article to much fats are bad. Its important to do your own research on the matter and make an educated decision, rather than because your mate carroll told you it was the best thing to do.
Thanks for reading xx
Dariush Mozaffarian , Renata Micha, Sarah Wallace Effects on Coronary Heart Disease of Increasing Polyunsaturated Fat in Place of Saturated Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials Published: March 23, 2010 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000252
Martijn B Katan, Ingeborg A Brouwer, Robert Clarke, Johanna M Geleijnse, Ronald P Mensink, saturated fat and heart disease, the American journal of clinical nutrition 2010, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/92/2/459.2.short