Fat Loss Success Series: Choose The Right Fat

Fats are an essential part of our diet. They are required for healthy hormones, brain function, nervous system communication and form the outer layer of every single cell in our bodies. However, not all fats are equal.

There are 3 categories of fats:

  • Trans fats

  • Saturated fats and

  • Unsaturated fats.

These categories get their names from their chemical structure. We won’t go into that now but just remember that there are 3 main categories.

Trans fats are the real bad guys. When oils are chemically transformed to form solid fats, thats when you’ll find trans fats eg margarine. These guys are generally found in your processed foods and are the real artery cloggers.

There is more awareness around the dangers of trans fats nowadays and they are being reduced in our food supply, however, they are definitely still one to watch.

Saturated fats are an interesting one. Generally, saturated fats are found in your animal products but are also found in palm oil and coconut products. There are different groups of saturated fats and are classed based on the length of their chain. For example the fat in coconut oil is a medium chain saturated fat and may have a different function to the saturated fats found in butter or animal fat.

Traditionally, saturated fats have been linked to heart disease, however, more recently, there is growing debate around the topic with some researchers arguing that certain types of saturated fats, such as those found in coconut oil, may not actually be that bad. In my experience - completely anecdotal evidence - I’ve seen a link between all saturated fats and cholesterol levels. Therefore, as the jury is still out, I often recommend reducing your intake of saturated fats.

Unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats are found in our plant products for example, olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado etc as well as oily fish. There is strong evidence to suggest that plant fats are good for our health, especially our heart and our brain. Within the umbrella category on unsaturated fats, we have monounsaturated fatty acids and poly unsaturated fats.

It seems that the ratio between our monos and our polys may also impact our health outcomes. To optimise this ratio, we often need to focus on consuming more polyunsaturated fats.

A well known example of a polyunsaturated fatty acid is our omega-3. These can be found in oily fish, chia seeds, walnuts, flax seeds, flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds and hemp seeds. Aim to consume oily fish 3 times per week and a source of the nuts and seeds listed each day.

In the health and fitness world, the type of fat may also impact our muscle to fat ratio. Having a diet higher in unsaturated fats and omega-3 seems to be better for muscle gain and a leaner body composition. They may also help improve strength results in the gym.

Remember that fats are important but the type of fat that you choose, does matter.

We'd like to kindly thank Hannah from All Bodies Services for the content of this blog. We are grateful to have an incredible partnership with Hannah & her team of expert Nutritionist's and Dietitian's to guide our members on their journey with food.