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The Whole Truth About Fats

January 15 2013

The Whole Truth About Fats
By: Debra Meszaros
Body Performance Coach

Fat phobia is what it’s called, and it is rapid throughout America. It has caused a misunderstanding of the role of fat for decades, and taken away our ability to maintain optimal health. It’s now become important for you to familiarize yourself with the true facts about fats, to uncover your personal needs, so you can take the quality of your health into your own hands.

Like most things in life, there is good and bad in everything. As you research foods and diet, you’ll uncover information pointing to the fact that when nutrients reside close to the way nature placed them, the healthier they are. Fats are no exception. Most know trans fats are the “bad” guys, and guess what? They are found in denatured foods. Foods that have been changed, by man, from the way nature has arranged them, making them un-natural. The heating of Omega 6 oil (polyunsaturated) also creates trans fats. Naturally occurring fats are those you will find in the good category, but too much of a good thing can turn bad. There is one action that dictates the status of your health, Balance. When you consume a balanced amount of healthy fats, this aids the body in maintaining health, possibly preventing disease, and obtaining maximum performance.

What are the true benefits of fat?

Fats are essential to the human body in many ways and I want to address the first misconception, that sugar is the best source for your body’s energy. Fact is that sugar is the number one ingredient that negatively affects all your bodily functions; it stresses all the systems of the body. It is by far the worst form of body fuel. On the other hand, fats are the body’s primary choice for energy, as they have the ability to provide double the amount of energy. Your muscles, including your heart and brain, will all function more efficiently when the body burns fat as energy. Through dietary habits, many individuals have re-trained their bodies to run on sugar. It is very common for these individuals to experience fatigue, headaches, depression, allergies, hormonal imbalances, and cognitive and emotional issues. The second misunderstanding is that all dietary fat equates to body fat, this is exactly the opposite. Fat free foods have proven to not be effective in this regard, as obesity still exists. It is sugar that turns to unwanted fat in the body. Also, when not enough quality fats are ingested, the body recognizes the lack of fats and actually stores more fat! Your body likes fat, so don’t deprive it, balance it.

Another key benefit of fats is maintaining hormonal balance. The thyroid, thymus, adrenal glands and kidneys all rely on the availability of fats to make hormones. Cholesterol, a good fat, is important in the production of bile as well as sex and adrenal hormones. With the rising numbers of cases of erectile dysfunction, it’s interesting that there might very well be a link to this dysfunction and cholesterol lowering drugs. Individuals following a low fat diet, female athletes with very low body fat percentages, and menopausal women with fat imbalances, usually experience hormonal imbalances. Inflammation, improper hydration and circulation also correlate with reduced levels of dietary fats, as they are connected to hormonal balances within the body.

The ah ha moment

Do you find yourself always hungry? Do you experience bloating? Are you fighting to maintain bone density? Have low vitamin D levels? Have poor vision? Experiencing reduced cognitive function? Guess what? These all appear to be related to… guessed it, an imbalance in dietary fats! How so? Digestion depends heavily on fats. The production of bile by your gallbladder depends on fat within your diet, and bile aids in the absorption and utilization of fats and fat soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins are: vitamin A, D, E, and K; so the lack of fat transposes into a lack of absorbing these essential vitamins. This holds true whether the vitamins are within your food, or in supplement form. Fats in your food also help the body digest proteins as they slow the release of food from the stomach, giving it more time to digest properly. Fats incorporated into your meal also slow the absorption of sugar, and in a sense, lower the foods glycemic level. Fats are also the vehicle of transportation of nutrients into your cells. For many, it can very well be a reason why you are not building bone. Calcium cannot get into your muscles or form into bone without fats. Magically when proper amounts of protein and fats are in your diet, it satisfies your hunger, you tend to eat less and not binge.

It’s all about balance

The art of balancing dietary fats takes a bit of reconditioning as far as thinking goes. First, stop looking at fat as your enemy. Second, we need to define which fats we need and in what proportions. Many of you are probably aware of the Omegas. Omega 3 and 6 tend to get the most attention. Since Omega 5, 7, 8, and 9 are needed to a lesser degree, they tend to not get much attention. The newest research in essential fatty acids (fats) shows that the ideal ratio of Omega 3 and 6 molecules in the body should be at a 1:1 ratio. When we look at the average daily diet, we see an excess of Omega 6 and generally a deficiency of Omega 3. Olive oil has been tagged so healthy that most of us consume too much of it. Soybean oil and corn oil are found in just about every packaged product you buy, and for sure are present in the foods you consume outside your home. These all raise your Omega 6 levels and not Omega 3. Omega 3 on the other hand has two issues; one, most individuals do not consume wild fish but farm raised fish; and consume commercially farmed livestock instead of grass-fed, free roaming. Unfortunately, these modern practices create an imbalance in the proper ratio of fats that nature intended to be present in these foods. If they are imbalanced, then when we consume them, we’re imbalanced. Grass-fed products are one key component to maintaining proper balance. Second, certain plant sources of Omega 3, like flax oil or seeds, contain Omega 3 but still need conversion by the body to the EPA version we need. The body needs certain nutritional elements present to do this task and not everyone has the needed quantities of these elements to do so 100% of the time. Excess consumption of saturated fats, sugar, simple carbohydrates, or low protein intake, inhibit conversion. Habits like smoking or lifestyles high in emotional or physical stress (over training too) also inhibit conversion. Coldwater ocean fish already contain the EPA and do not need conversion. Incorporating cold water fish, green vegetables, almonds, walnuts and pecans into the diet, help in maintaining proper ratios; the more olive or vegetable oils used in your diet, the more you’ll need Omega 3’s.

How much fat should be in your diet?

It’s plain and simple; the more active an individual is the more fats are needed. Fat becomes of major importance to anyone training, to athletes, and highly active individuals, but average to low level activity individuals should not avoid quality fats either. There are some great resources on the internet to do self testing: and as well as meal planning services on the internet that can calculate percentages for you and even create meal plans for you to reach your goals.

Exploring supplement options

Sometimes due to lifestyle and dietary habits, we are just unable to reach proper ratios of our Omega’s; this is when instead of remaining in an unbalanced state, we have an option of utilizing supplementation. There is a wide range of products available but they are not all created equal. In the case of cold water Omega 3 fish oil, factors like, where and how it’s harvested and is it in an environmentally sensitive and responsible manner? Is it a “wild” product or farm raised? Has the product been placed through third party testing to assure it’s free from excess metals or pollutants? Often you will find many brands do not practice these important measures; they are often those you will find at a surprisingly low price. For those who may have additional issues they’d like to target like cardio, joints, or mental focus for instance, there are companies that synergistically blend other components into to fish oil to help achieve those goals. As always, it’s advisable to read the labels and even research the companies producing them.

©2013 Debra Meszaros All rights reserved; no duplication without permission.
DISCLAIMER: When you read through the diet and lifestyle information, you must know that everything within it is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. I am making no attempt to prescribe any medical treatment. You should not use the information here for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. The products and the claims made about specific products have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. Confirm the safety of any supplements with your M.D., N.D. or pharmacist (healthcare professional). Some information given is solely an opinion, thought and or conclusion based on experiences, trials, tests, assessments or other available sources of information. I do not make any guarantees or promises with regard to results. I may discuss substances that have not been subject to double blind clinical studies or FDA approval or regulation. You assume the responsibility for the decision to take any natural remedy.
You and only you are responsible if you choose to do anything with the information you have read. You do so at your own risk. I encourage you to make your own health decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.