The Skinny on Dietary Fats

By Christopher William McCombs


For the most part, fats get a bad rap.

It's really unfortunate that fat got stuck with the exact same name as the condition that fitness minded people are trying to avoid, because the fact of the matter is that you need fats in your diet, just like you need carbohydrates and protein.

But there is a wide spectrum of fats to be found in the ingredients of the items at your supermarket, and they are not all created equally.

The Skinny on Dietary Fats

Here are the basic kinds of fats you might see on an ingredients list, and what they all mean to your nutritional needs.


Trans Fats

If you have ever read a news story on the obesity epidemic in the US or fast food restaurants, you have probably heard trans fats mentioned once or twice. Trans fat is a kind of unsaturated fat that is created by hydrogenating (adding hydrogen atoms) to soybean or some other vegetable oil. This is done typically to increase the shelf life of the fat and the food that is made with it.

Unlike virtually every other kind of fat that is available for people to eat, trans fat can hardly be called "natural." In fact, the process designed to make them wasn't invented until the very early twentieth century, and they didn't appear on the food market until 1911.

Trans fats are really bad stuff, and have shown to throw your cholesterol out of whack and possibly cause other complications. It is so bad, there has been a movement to ban the substance entirely from store shelves.


Saturated Fat

Saturated fat isn't made in a lab like trans fat is, but it still isn't very good for you. This kind of fat is typically found in animal products and certain kinds of nuts, most notably coconuts. It really isn't practical to completely eliminate saturated fat from your diet, but you would be doing your health good to cut down as much as you can.


Monounsaturated Fat

Monounsaturated fat is one of the "good fats." It has been shown to raise you levels of "good" cholesterol, while lowering your levels of "bad" cholesterol. Regular intake has also shown to decrease your odds of contracting cardiovascular disease. They typically come from oils such as olive oils, sesame oil, and corn oil. You can also get them from avocados and nuts.


Polyunsaturated Fat

Polyunsaturated fats are very good for you, and it seems like every year scientists are discovering new benefits to regular consumption.

So far, there have been studies that show that polyunsaturated fat can boost your metabolism, help improve brain function, reduce exercise recovery time, improve heart health and increase blood flow. You can get this fat by eating fish and certain kinds of seeds, most popularly flax seeds.


So how much dietary fat should you consume each day?

For most, it should be around twenty percent of your daily caloric intake. You can calculate how much you personally need by remembering that each gram of fat contains nine calories.


Chris McCombs is a Long Beach personal trainer in California. One breezy day while walking out of a fish taco restaurant Chris stumbled onto a radical approach to losing fat at a rapid rate which he helps people all over Long Beach do today. Chris is also a personal training marketing expert and helps self employed personal trainers to triple their income and cut their work hours in half.



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