Photo by Paul Buceta
If there’s a nutrition topic I’m particularly passionate about, it’s fat. When I finally came to learn that fat was actually beneficial to my workouts (and my waistline), it was life-changing. And it can be for you, too.
Fat has been the most demonized macronutrient for decades, but despite what we’ve been told in the past, the right kinds of fat will not cause clogged arteries, heart disease, or weight gain. In fact, fat can be a tremendous fitness tool for long-lasting energy and achieving your goals.
Our bodies need fat and cholesterol for so many functions related to health and fitness goals. For starters, cholesterol is a building block of testosterone, which helps us build muscle. Secondly, in addition to glucose, our brains can also run on ketones, a fat-burning bi-product our brilliant bodies make when we are in periods of famine or fasting, or extremely low carb. And when it comes to endurance sports and longer metabolic conditioning workouts, our body taps into fat as its energy source.
Again, I’m talking about certain types of fat sources here, particularly those that are not easily oxidized (meaning unstable and inflammatory). When certain fats, like vegetable oil, are exposed to light or heat, they become oxidized, but saturated fats like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, and those found in responsibly sourced meats, are all more stable in structure. Avoiding all saturated fats can cause health problems including hormone imbalance, a slow lymph, and believe it or not: unwanted cellulite. Outside of saturated fats, avocados and olive oil are fantastic sources of monounsaturated fat. Always mix up your types of fats for optimal health and performance.
Here are a few other tips for using fat as a fitness tool:
• Become a fat burner. That means keeping carbs lower and making fat a big chunk of your diet, resulting in fewer blood sugar dips, less need for insulin surges, and therefore, lower inflammation and improved energy all day, especially for your workouts.
• Try MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) in oil or powder form for a very quick source of fuel. If you do intermittent fasting or you tend to go a long time between meals, mix it in your coffee to keep you energized. It is absorbed much quicker than most fats, and can be an instant fuel source.
• Avoid eating like a bodybuilder. Small meals, multiple times a day comprising of mostly starch and protein is not only bad for your gut health, but it is forcing your body to depend on sugar as energy. Reducing your protein and carb intake and eating more fat will keep you satiated for long periods of time.
So enjoy your guacamole, olive oil, and even butter! Your body and your workouts will be better for it.