There is no shortage of nutritional information out there. Whether you are trying to get fit, lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, nutritional information can get confusing. Should you go low-carb, low-fat, eat only organic or become a vegan? In order to make healthy choices, it’s helpful to understand the role various nutrients play in good health. Fat is sometimes the most misunderstood nutrient. Below are some fat facts to keep in mind.
FAT IS ESSENTIAL FOR YOUR BODY TO FUNCTION PROPERLY
Fat is sometimes thought of as the enemy when it comes to losing weight or getting fit. But fat is essential for your body to function properly. Fat helps your body in several ways. For instance, certain vitamins including A, D and E are considered fat-soluble vitamins. When you eat foods containing fat-soluble vitamins, they are absorbed into the body through the dietary fat you eat. In addition to assisting with vitamin absorption, dietary fat also provides the body with energy, cushions organs and provides insulation against the cold.
WHERE YOU CARRY YOUR FAT MATTERS
If you’re carrying excess fat around your middle, it may hurt your ego, but it may also increase your risk of certain diseases. If you are overweight and have excess fat, it’s not optimal for your health. But researchers have discovered, that where you carry your excess fat also plays a role in health problems. For example, if you carry excess weight in your abdominal area, the fat lies deep enough to cause metabolic disturbances that lead to inflammation and increase your risk of having a heart attack.
FAT CELLS SHRINK BUT DON’T DISAPPEAR
Once you reach adulthood the number of fat cells you have stays pretty much consistent unless you gain a significant amount of weight. How many fat cells you end up with as an adult is determined in part by your genetics. Although fats cells do die off, they also regenerate at about the same rate. When you gain weight, your fat cells can swell several times the size they were. But once you lose weight, although those cells don’t disappear, they do shrink.
FATS DON’T MAKE YOU FAT
When you think of losing weight, you might think that you need to stick to a low-fat or no-fat diet. But the truth is, fat is not what makes you gain weight. Eating more calories than your burn is what packs on the pounds. So whether you get your excess calories from chips or fruit, if you eat too much you’ll gain weight. Keep in mind, each gram of fat contains nine calories as opposed to four calories, which is in carbs and protein. So if you eat high-fat foods, it can be easy to take in excess calories without realizing.
NOT ALL FAT IS THE SAME
When it comes to dietary fat, it’s important to remember, not all fat is created equal. For instance, foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as donuts, French fries and chips, are unhealthy and should be limited. Saturated fats can contribute to clogged arteries and increase your risk of certain diseases. Monounsaturated fats are considered healthy fats and are better choices. Include foods in your diet including olive oil, avocados and almond butter.
Author: MaryAnn DePietro
Author Bio: A health and fitness writer with 13 years’ experience, MaryAnn has been extensively published in magazines, newspapers and websites. Her work has appeared on websites, such as Healthline, Symptom Find, Livestrong and Modern Moms. MaryAnn earned degrees in both respiratory therapy at American River College in Sacramento and rehabilitation education at Penn State University. MaryAnn lives in northern California where she trains for 10K marathons, plays golf and hangs out with her husband and son.