Benefits of Fat
Fats are the best source of energy for the human metabolism. They also don’t influence blood sugar. Here are 5 reasons why fat is our friend:
- Fat regulates our appetite. It helps us feel satisfied.
- Fat provides long lasting energy that carbohydrates are no match for.
- Fat has very low insulin (the hormone of aging) response, especially compared to sugar. One of the greatest side effects from the low fat craze – besides tripling childhood obesity in just one decade in the US – is its impact on mental decline.
- Fat is essential to the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), which are vital for health.
- German nutrition expert, Konrad Biesalski, points out the counter-intuitive reality that many of the nutrients implicated in protecting against cancer (vitamin A, folic acid, selenium, and zinc). These are not only more abundant in meat but are also more available than they are when they’re coming from plant sources. This means that these nutrients are better absorbed when consumed from meat rather than vegetables and fruits. Obviously that doesn’t mean that you if you get your protein from more plant based sources that you should stop, only that it seems to be a better source.
Which Fats Are Best… And Best Avoided?
- There are three types of fats you should include in your diet: saturated, mono-unsaturated, and poly-unsaturated.
- Despite what we’ve heard in the past, saturated fat and cholesterol are needed for the synthesis of the steroid hormones in the body, including testosterone.
- This means muscular strength and tone, which is good for independence in old age, sex appeal, resistance to disease and also Vitamin D synthesis.
- Trans fats (Cakes, doughnuts etc) are nice to have as a treat once in a while but they should be consumed minimally. It can take a bit of mental strength to do this but you’ll thank yourself in your 50’s.
- As a general rule, studies have shown that a fat intake making up less than 15% of overall calories in the diet can significantly decrease testosterone levels.
- If you’re on a carb-restricted diet, make sure you include a decent amount of saturated and mono-unsaturated since they’re good for energy metabolism.
- Saturated fat and cholesterol help to maintain rigidity with cell structure.
- Poly-unsaturated fats should be included at lower quantities since they’re sensitive to oxidation. Still, these have specialised roles to help optimise cell function, cognitive behaviour, and inflammatory modulation.
- Eating high carb and high fat at the same meal isn’t a good idea since insulin promotes fat storage in the wrong environment.
- Never cook with poly-unsaturated fats. Cook with coconut or palm oil. Other than brain boosting and fat-busting benefits. The reason to favour these tropical oils for cooking is because they’re extremely saturated. This means any chance of oxidation from heat is minimised.
- They also contain low amounts of Aldehydes once they are heated, which are substances linked to the development of some diseases.
Our ancestors thrived on a 4:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Nowadays the average diet leans toward 1:16 which is unhealthy. A reasonable aim would be a 1:1 ratio. This can be achieved by way of supplementation and good protein choices e.g. grass fed beef. Good options are to invest in Free range or organic foods. The only problem with these is that they can be more expensive. You can get a lot of good benefits in terms of healthy fats and protein from Oily fish such as salmon and mackeral. Which are cheaper choices in some places.
Eat your greens!
There are many reasons that Broccoli is widely considered the best vegetable to include in your diet in terms of bang for your buck. I’ll go through a few points as to why it is such an integral food.
Macro nutrients in Vegetables
Broccoli is a vegetable that contains large amounts of macro nutrients that are needed in everyday life and for good functioning health. Per 100g it contains 2.8g of Protein and 2.6g of Fibre. These two are instrumental in not only maintaining a healthy balanced diet, but also ensuring optimal mental and physical well-being. I wouldn’t say that it is the best source of Protein to use for your diet, as the amout is quite small. But the amount that is present will certainly help growth and repair of tissues and encourage fat loss. Fibre is instumental in ensuring that the digestive system works properly, meaning efficient digesting and passing of waste. It has been shown to reduce the risk of Cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Broccoli is also a source of carbohydrates (7g). These aren’t carbohydrates in the normal sense that you would find in bread or pasta. More in line with the natural sugar found in Fruit. This means on the dinner plate it’s a great source of Carbohydrates.
Micro- nutrients in Vegetables
Also contained within this vegetable is a huge amount of vitamins and minerals both also needed for optimal functioning of the human body. I’ll go through a few of the best.
- Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, teeth and bones, contributes towards retinal development (so being able to see in the dark properly). It contributes to a healthy and active immune system (which aids in the prevention of diseases). But probably most importantly it contains a lot of Anti-oxidants. Anti-Oxidants are the bodies first way of combating free-radicals, which are a series orf events that leads to the damaging of a cell formerly a process found in the development of terminal diseases.
- Vitamin C is the chief vitamin that helps to prevent Scurvy. Something that the British Navy was plagued by in the past. They combated this by including limes and lemons in the sailors rations. Scurvy was a nasty disease that led to losing teeth and rotting gums. Lack of Vit C can also lead to longer time of wound healing. It also protects bones and contributes to a healthy immune system.
It’s a very cheap way of staying healthy, you can buy a weeks worth of vegetables for less than £5 in certain supermarkets. But can you put a price on health?
LDL, HDL, what do they mean?
More importantly what effect do each of these them have on the body and how can we control them.
Over half of all adults in England have raised cholesterol (>5mmol/L) (source: HeartUK). The implications of this problem are well known, Coronary heart Disease and stroke etc. But the causes of these issues are a cause of discussion in the Nutrition and Fitness Industry. The two camps are divided into those that think saturated fat is responsible for CHD and those that think saturated fat (SF) positively contributes to heart and brain health. Obviously all types of fat will lead to issues when consumed in great amounts, but some are more problematic than others.
It is very complex subject to get to terms with, and the text here is the basis of my years in the industry and what I know myself. Naturally I am not a Nutritionist nor a Scientist so bare that in mind if you disagree with me- I would welcome the debate.
LDL Stands for “Low density Lipoprotein” which is commonly known as Bad cholesterol and has been found to be a big cause of Coronary heart disease and Atherosclerosis( hardening of the arteries). HDL stands for “High density Lipoprotein” which is known as good cholesterol because it bonds to the LDL molecules that have been left by the body and recycles them.. The most important thing to recognise is that the body produces cholesterol itself, so there is no way to ‘completely’ remove it from the diet, only limit the intake. The best way to ensure that your LDL and HDL balance stays positive is to keep on top of your diet- ensuring that you eat regular fruit and veg, and also get out and be active- even walking has been shown to reduce the effects of Negative LDL deposition.
I tend to sit in the camp that sees saturated fat as a nutritional component of the diet, I will explain a couple of reasons why below:
- Many vitamins are fat soluble and in some cases, protein needs to be digested in a fat rich environment- that is the right kind of fat. A, D, E and K are all Fat soluble which means the bodies ability to digest them will be significantly reduced without the presence of Dietary fat (Dietary fat is a natural source of fat found in Nuts, Chicken skin etc)
- In terms of cooking oils, Fats that contain low melting points (sunflower, rapeseed etc) all contain high levels of aldehydes, which have recently been linked to illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Coconut oil contains little to none of these substances as is predominantly made up of Saturated fat in content.
- When it comes to the debate on Margarine or Butter, there is no competition for me, Margarine is an incomplete chain fat- meaning that it’s been blasted with hydrogen molecules, otherwise known as “Hydrogenation”. This means that it should be a liquid at room temperature. Butter is a complete chain fat- what you see is what you get with minimal tampering.
You might have heard the terms “Systolic”, “Diastolic”, “Stroke volume” being thrown about when you last had your blood pressure checked and silently nodded at the Doctor without understanding a single word of what they were talking about.
You are not alone in this. Blood pressure is a commonly discussed and commonly misunderstood part of human health. Allow me to clear up a few of the terms and what you should actually be aiming for when you get it measured.
First of all, I would recommend (if you can budget for it) that you get hold an electric blood pressure monitor for home use. It is good practice to regularly monitor your own BP and record it- rather than waiting months before your Doctors visit. They are not that expensive and can provide an insight into your health without leaving the house.
The Terms, there is alot of science that can be thrown behind a topic like this but I shall keep it brief. “Systolic” refers to the pressure that is measured on your artery walls when the heart is contracting (sending blood out). “Diastolic” refers to the pressure measured on the artery walls when the heart is refilling inbetween contractions, this is why it is a lower value. “Resting heart rate” is, as the name suggests, how hard the heart is working to pump bloody when you are at rest, so the lower the number here is generally better. “Stroke volume” is not a term that is generally included within BP testing but refers to the overall amount of blood that is pumped in a minute. “Hypertension and hypotension” refer to high and low BP, respectively. There are several ‘steps’ to each of these and is sometimes given a colour to signify its severity, for example 140/90 would be given a red flag whereas 140/80 would be an amber flag. If you do a self read and you are not sure about your reading then consult a Doctor,
A good reading is advised to be 120/80 Systolic/Diastolic, this is for most ages and for those that have an activity level of low to moderate, if you have an activity level of moderate- very high then it can be as low as 100/60. Resting heart rate is indicative of a strong heart and a good reading for this in the same catergory as above would be 70 or less. Likewise those that exercise regularly could have a RHR of <50.
Foods that help to decrease blood pressure will be nothing short of what you may heard before, eating fruits and veg are always solid pieces of advice, as well as avoiding excess amounts of red meat and salt.
I was speaking to someone this week about their exercise habits. It occurred to me that very few people actually have knowledge of the fat to muscle relationship that regular trainees/trainers take for granted.
They said they couldn’t lift weights as they had very little fat on their body for the muscle to come from.
Let me be clear on this:
Fat and muscle are two different types of tissue.
Muscle and fat both derive from different components and their chemical make up is totally different to one another.
Muscle is mainly formed of proteins which interact with each other when a contraction takes place. Muscles are made up by millions of fibres. Which are turn controlled by a nervous stimulus.
Fat is made up of adipose tissue and doesn’t possess any nervous ability. It is a fuel source, albeit a harder one to use during exercise. Whereas muscle is not a fuel source.
If you are in a position where you want to build muscle but you have no fat, you are in a prime position. Because that means you haven’t got to worry about getting rid of excess fat and can concentrate on building the body you desire.
This is also true for the reverse. There’s no way for muscle to turn to fat. If you stop training then you may gain fat but your muscles will only atrophy which means they will get smaller.
If you find yourself in a position where you have fat and want to build muscle then again, you have no issue. Your programming will be different to the person described above. But you are still able to achieve the body you want. See my post on “EPOC training” for more information. This will give you a clear cut way of gearing you programming towards your goal!
Most people have asked this question at one point in their lives- and it’s created a billion dollar business in the fitness industry. Personal trainers all over the globe are seeking the most efficient way to get weight off their clients for good.
I will go through some exercises and tips in a moment, but the most important thing that must be realised before we go on is:
It is dependent on you.
What does that mean? It means that appropriate weight loss (or gain!) is the result of disciplined and deliberate actions towards a goal that you have chosen. I’m sure you’ve heard that you get what you work for- if you haven’t worked for it- you won’t get it.
This also means that you cannot expect to see the same results as your best mate, partner or colleague. Every living organism is different and as such two people may get different results from the same method.
There are general guidelines you can follow that will help you towards your goal. These are:
1. Set a goal- if you don’t give yourself a feasible target then you are likely to relapse any results you do get.
2. Identify what you need to change (barriers) in your life to reach that goal- this is small scale behavioural change and it is an imperative part of the process. If you identify a barrier of no time for gym, then work out how you can insert small bouts of activity in the time you do have- the weight loss process can be started from 10 minutes a night.
3. Input a regime of reward for yourself when you do keep to the plan. This can be in the shape of a glass of wine- or a cheat meal.
At the gym….
- Use exercises that incorporate full body movement- such ones are Squats, Deadlifts, Over head press and single leg exercises. (There will be a video of these shortly)
- Anaerobic intervals will train the body to use fat as a fuel- but this is done after exercise when you create what is known as oxygen deficit. A typical interval could be on the rowing machine. Row 250m as hard as you can and then rest for 90 seconds. Challenge yourself!
- Make sure your nutrition is up to scratch aswell- you need to be taking in nutritional foods to supplement your gym work: Fish, vegetables, fruit etc. The more colours you eat the better (and I don’t mean Tide pods!).
Last but not least…
Get enough sleep! You can be doing everything right, but if you are not getting adequate rest, then the good things you are doing will be counteracted instantly. You need good hormonal balance if you’re going to get any results.