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.
Whether you are a seasoned trainee or you are just starting out in the gym- it’s important to know the principles that will govern results. Prinicpally what we are concerned with here is being able to add weight onto the bar. The simple way to see progress in the weight room is to see whether you can lift more than the previous session, this is how we know we’ve had an improvement in strength.
There are three categories when it comes to trainees training with weights- Novice, intermediate and advanced Trainees. Someone who has been training for 5 years may think they are an intermediate trainee, but can still benefit from some novice techniques. Most people will fall within the novice catergory- simply because they have not followed the proper techniques and may have started to lose results in the process, also becauuse the further you up the chain the more specialised you will see. For example more intermediate trainees and definitely advanced, will be athletes and thsoe in sports teams.
A simple way to know if you are within the Novice catergory is- can you add weight onto the bar after 2/3 days of rest? If so it is not a big problem, it simply means you have somewhere to start.
For a novice program I would look at training the whole body in every session- it is the easiest way to ensure that all bases are covered, and if your goal is to get stronger or lose weight then there is no need to start doing different body parts on different days.
To get you started:
Three times a week
Bench Press 3 sets of 5 reps
Squat 3 sets of 5 reps
Deadlift (only once a week) 1 set of 5 reps.
Wednesday: As above (no deadlift)
Friday: As above (no deadlift)
That is a very basic program for someone who would be a beginner- what this will do is set the trainee into a habit of training and introduce the body to weightlifting, after that you can play with other variables like frequency and other exercises, but the overall program should revolve around the main core lifts that the body can do. These are
(Pull) Chin up
The alst two can be itnroduced into the program once the trainee has progress pas a specific point- that being when they can manage the new movements. Further down the line the trainee can be introduced to further movements such as Olympic based movements as well accesssory movements with Dumbbells.
Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)
EPOC in a nutshell is when you train so hard that you body has to produce energy anaerobically (without oxygen). The result is that your body is then in a deficit of oxygen that it will continue to metabolise a few hours after the session has finished.
In short, that means Fat is being metabolised when you’re relaxing at home!
So how can this be done?
I won’t lie to you, this method of training is hard. EPOC training requires extreme effort and should not be tried if you are under medication for any of the following: High blood pressure, pregnancy, physical disabilities (that impair coordination) etc. The reason for this is that you are disrupting your bodies “Homeostasis”. Homeostasis is defined as optimal conditions for your body to live in (temperature, hydration etc). Whenever this is done there are finite amounts of time that you can withstand being outside of those levels.
In the case of exercise you’re attacking your bodies ability to de-toxify the blood of Pyruvate (lactic) acid. This is a substance that builds up during high intensity exercise and causes the continuation of exercise to become harder and harder. An example of this is doing sprints, you will be able to sprint maximally for about 10-15 seconds. That goes for athletes at elite level too. As the level of acid increases, performance level will decrease rapidly. At this point your body will change its energy system preference to more aerobic (with oxygen) to try and facilitate recovery.
We do not want to switch to the aerobic training systems as this will change the way that the deficit builds up. EPOC intervals require us to work maximally for 10-15 seconds and then rest. This could be a set of heavy squats or sprints, followed by a rest period of 2-3 minutes.
The more time you spend ‘without’ oxygen, the more time you spend rebuilding the deficit using Fat as an energy source later on. Coupled with a nutritious energy source to replace the nutrients you have expended. What you have is a pretty reliable source of weight loss.
Why doesn’t everyone do EPOC if it’s so good?
People don’t want to push themselves in most cases, or don’t know how to. It takes a strong effort to get yourself to a point where you are pushing limits. That is ultimately what it comes down to. Are you willing to push yourself to your limits? If you are then the EPOC system is what you need to try. Check out my post on the Tabata Training system aswell. Tabata i
s another way to faciliate Excess post-excersise oxygen consumption.