Thursday, February 24, 2011

Things that are Good for You {Fats}

So if you haven't been following along lately, I've been doing these little posts about, well, things that are good for you. I'm pretty straightforward. I like to start over with a little review: last time we talked about protein and the time before that it was carbs. Protein, carbs, and fat make up a little trifecta that we like to call Macronutrients.

Carbs: These should make up 45-65% of your diet. Complex carbs, whole wheat, grains, fruits, basically anything 'natural' should be what's in your diet. Eat things like pizza, ice cream, sweet breads, candy or other processed foods sparingly and in moderation, or find modified healthier versions of your favorite foods to incorporate them into your lifestyle.  Some examples of what I'm talking about; use whole wheat pasta or pizza dough instead of white (Trader Joe's sells whole wheat ready-made pizza dough), use brown rice instead of white, eat fruit as your dessert or add it to some Greek yogurt with honey. 

The important thing to remember about carbs, YOU NEED THEM! Don't cut them out, just use them right.

Protein: Protein is important, but really overused. A lot of people think that protein shakes, powders, bars etc. are great for them and great after a workout, and while they can be for some people they are often over used. A lifestyle of over consumption of protein can be hard on your kidneys and often times puts people over their daily needs for calories. When you over consume calories, good things like protein or carbs can be stored as fat (carbs can be stored in small amounts in your body for later use, however, protein is either used or stored as fat, you don't store protein as protein). 

Bottom line, keep protein in your diet in small amounts. A piece of chicken the size of a deck of cards, once a day or a small piece of fish in addition to the proteins that you will get out of other sources like whole wheat, veggies and dairy will help to get you what you need. Protein should make up 10-35% of your daily caloric intake.

Alright, this could be very confusing, so I'm going to try to simplify it as much as possible to just convey the important information that will help you day-to-day. Sometimes when I try to explain fats it gets very word-y, so if you have any questions after you're done reading, please comment and let me know.

Types of fats: You have probably heard of saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats....maybe you haven't, that's fine I'll explain. There's also omega-3's and omega-6 that you here a little about too. I could keep going with detail but we'll go over these for now.

I think the easiest way to explain fats is to break them down one at a time. Just as an overview, just like carbs and protein, you NEED fat in your body. You need it for many main building-block functions within cell growth, brain function and hormone production. Your diet should consist of 20-35% of its calories from fat. My diet should be about 1800 calories to maintain my weight (if you factor in activity) so I should be eating 360-630 calories from fat a day. Sounds like a lot huh? Totally normal!

Part 1
'Bad Fats'

Saturated fat: Quick chemistry lesson-a saturated fat is made up of triglycerides and has no double bonds and that's what makes it saturated. It's not really important for you to know that it has no double bonds, but it's called a saturated fat because it is saturated with hydrogen atoms whereas a double bond adds an extra carbon atom. 

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. You can spot a saturated fat on a steak with a lot of marbling, bacon, lard, or any other kind of fat from an animal that is solid when it's not heated. It's also in other animal products like whole milk or yogurt or cheese that is not fat-free. 

Saturated fat causes clogging of arteries which can lead to heart attacks, increased body fat stores, and result in diabetes and really a whole host of other health problems. Our bodies are really good at making saturated fats on their own, so you don't really need a lot in your diet. You obviously do need them for bodily function or your body wouldn't assemble them on its own, but compared to what our natural 'hunter gatherer' lifestyle was intended to be, we get A LOT in our diets now-days. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that you have less than 7% of your diet come from saturated you think you have less than 7% in your diet? 

Trans fats: Occur naturally in animal products. A trans fat is a trans fat because of its chemical structure and bonds. I'm not going to explain that in detail, just know that it is not good to have high levels of trans fats in your body. Obviously, we are going to get trans fats in our diets because a lot of us eat animal products on a daily basis. Where trans fats get really dangerous is in processed foods. 

Trans fats are currently considered by most professionals to be the worst type of fat for you in terms of Americans diets. The American Heart Association recommends that you have less that 1% of your daily intake from trans fats, that's less than 20 calories from trans fats for most people. 

Cholesterol: I hate the terms, 'good cholesterol' and 'bad cholesterol' because it doesn't really exist. Have you ever heard of a food that is high in 'good cholesterol'? NO! It's because it's all about what your body does with it when it gets it. Your body produces cholesterol from its liver, so it's in your body regardless of what you eat. Some people are really good at producing it and some people not as good. In fact, for some people, they can go on a low-cholesterol diet and their cholesterol won't budge because their body adjusts and produces MORE due to the lack of it in their diet. Most of the time when health care professionals tell you to lower the cholesterol in your diet it's because foods that are high in cholesterol are typically higher in saturated fat as well, and it's that saturated fat that can really effect the LDL levels in your body.
This stands for Low-Density Lipoprotein. What is a Lipoprotein? It is the vessel by which your body carries fat through the blood stream. Fat does not mix with water, so in order for it to be carried throughout your blood stream, it needs a layer of protein to make it 'water soluble' or able to be in water. 
I won't go into too much detail, but when fat is brought into your body from your gut it travels through theses vessels. VLDL (VERY low-density lipoprotein) has a lot of triglycerides in it as well as cholesterol and eventually changes into IDL and then LDL. The LDL is bigger than the HDL because it has more fat inside of its protein chamber (for lack of a better word). Simply put, LDL carries fat to different parts of the body that need it to build cells, hormones and digestive juices. Most people eat too much fat and have too much LDL floating in their blood and it can end up sticking to arterial walls, causing heart attacks and strokes. (I'll talk about HDL when I talk about 'good fats'). you have a headache yet? Well I do and it's time for bed. I will be following up with 'good fats' this weekend, so check back to see how you can improve your diet!

Keep it real,


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Blogger CaL said...  

How was I NOT following your blog?! Okay, so this post makes my life. I love all this info. I've been doing better, no carbs after lunch. Just cause I'm more sedentary. But my carbs usually consist of brown rice, bananas & other fruits. Sometimes crackers. ;) Protein, I'm good with, I'm not huge on meat so it's easy for me to neglect it. =) I try to get most of my fats from cheese & eggs, but I think my stomach is shrinking & adjusting to these really amazing salads I've been making. Wow, lengthy comment. I love talking/reading about food!


Blogger RooFresh said...  

That's great! I'm glad to hear that you're having success! Let me know if you have any questions, and I can't wait to meet you in March!

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