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by Tony Gjokaj June 16, 2024 3 min read

When it comes to nutrition, fats often get a bad rap.

But let's set the record straight—fats are not the enemy.

In fact, they're essential for our bodies to function properly.

Understanding the different types of fats and their roles can help you make smarter food choices and improve your overall health.

In this post, we are going to dive into the ultimate guide to fats.

Let's dive in!

What Are Fats?

Fats, also known as lipids, are one of the three essential macronutrients our bodies need, alongside carbohydrates and proteins.

They serve several critical functions, including providing a concentrated source of energy, supporting cell growth, protecting organs, and helping the body absorb essential vitamins such as A, D, E, and K.

Fats are categorized into different types: unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), saturated fats, and trans fats.

Understanding and choosing the right types of fats can significantly impact overall health and well-being.

The Good, the "Bad", & the Ugly

1. Healthy Fats (The Good)

Monounsaturated Fats

These fats are known for reducing bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol levels (HDL), which helps protect your heart.

They also provide essential nutrients and are beneficial for insulin levels and blood sugar control.

  • Sources: Olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.

Polyunsaturated Fats

These fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain function and cell growth.

Omega-3s, in particular, are anti-inflammatory and can help lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and arthritis.

  • Sources: Fatty fish (like salmon and mackerel), flaxseeds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.

2. Less Healthy Fats (The "Bad")

Saturated Fats

While not all saturated fats are bad, excessive intake can raise your LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease.

It's best to consume these fats in moderation and focus on quality sources like grass-fed meats and organic dairy.

  • Sources: Red meat, butter, cheese, and other animal products.

3. Unhealthy Fats (The Ugly)

Trans Fats

These are the real villains.

Trans fats not only raise bad cholesterol (LDL) but also lower good cholesterol (HDL), significantly increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

While there are very few absolutes in nutrition, you should avoid trans fats at all cost.

  • Sources: Partially hydrogenated oils found in many processed foods, baked goods, and fried items.

How Much Fat Do You Need?

The general recommendation is that fats should make up about 20-30% of your total daily calories.

This includes all types of fats, but the focus should be on incorporating more healthy fats into your diet.

I usually recommend 1-2 thumb servings of fats per meal.

This is a pretty solid ballpark of 20-30% of your total daily calories coming from fats.

Tips for Including Healthy Fats in Your Diet

  1. Cook with Olive Oil: Swap out butter or margarine for olive oil in your cooking. It's a simple switch that can significantly improve your fat intake.

  2. Snack Smart: Keep a stash of nuts and seeds for a quick, healthy snack. Just watch the portions—aim for a handful (about an ounce) to keep calories in check.

  3. Choose Fatty Fish: Incorporate fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines into your meals at least twice a week. They're packed with omega-3 fatty acids.

  4. Add Avocado: Whether on toast, in a salad, or as a side, avocado is a versatile fruit that's loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats.

  5. Read Labels: Be a savvy shopper. Check the ingredient list on packaged foods for trans fats and avoid anything with partially hydrogenated oils.

The Right Fats

Fats are a vital part of a balanced diet.

By understanding the different types of fats and making mindful choices, you can harness their benefits while minimizing potential risks.

Remember, it's not about cutting out fats entirely but choosing the right ones to support your health and well-being.

Now go out there and get those omega-3's!

Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help millions exercise their way out of depression and anxiety.

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