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The Skinny On Fats

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

Good day my fellow fitness friends! I'm very sorry I didn't have a blog for you last Sunday like I'd hoped. My father passed away so I stepped aside from social media and technology for a bit as I helped mom handle burial arrangements. Now that everyone is resting comfortably and things return to normal, I will get my posts back on track. Thank you all for your patience and understanding and...1...2...3...go! The last time we met, I did a bit of a transition from exercise to dietary guidelines and nutrition. In that one where I discussed carbohydrates, I hope you gained a bit more knowledge about how both types work collaboratively with fitness to effect certain outcomes. Today, if the bold print above doesn't already give it away, I will give you a basic overview of fats...amounts required for proper bodily functions, the different types, and their role in the food chain. Like the title suggests, some fats are healthier than others. Are you ready to learn more? I sure hope so. Before dishing out the skinny on fats, I do want to mention that fat is an essential part of your daily food intake. It provides a cushion for our bones and organs and vital nutrients to promote healthy brain activity. Finding the right balance varies from person to person so please remember that any information given in these articles may have to be adjusted to suit your individual circumstances. In any case, trying to completely eliminate fat from your meal plan is generally not a good idea as serious negative health ramifications may result. With that said, let's get down to business. As I previously stated, there are several different types of fats. Most of you, especially those who consume animal products, are probably familiar with the kind trimmed off poultry and red meats...saturated fat. But do you actually know what that means? Unless you are a dietitian or nutritionist that has studied them in great detail, no. Well guess what? No studying required...I've done it for you so just keep reading. You can thank me later... An easy way to identify saturated fat is that it becomes solid at room temperature and usually turns white. It is saturated when surrounded by single hydrogen bonds. Imagine an athlete who is in the middle of a group hug say, maybe after scoring the winning point for their team. Being completely covered by teammates represents the idea of saturated fat. The individual inside is the fat and all the people around them are hydrogen atoms. When the fat can no longer be seen it, like the athlete receiving congratulations, is considered saturated. On the flip side, however, after time, the smothered person cannot breathe in oxygen as well and possibly suffer from deprivation. Using this analogy, this type of fat is the least beneficial to us, so should not comprise more than three to five percent (3-5%) of total fat intake. Too much can cause major digestive issues, clog arteries, and lead to severe health problems such as heart attacks and strokes. In addition to beef, chicken and turkey, baked goods, butter, and whole milk dairy products like ice cream contain large amounts of saturated fat. A second type of fat is referred to as unsaturated fat. Within this category are mono and polyunsaturated fats. Unlike the saturated fats, unsaturated varieties are liquid at room temperature and more easily absorbed by the body. They are considered "healthy" fats because of being essential for brain health and other functions, but cannot be made by the body. Therefore, they must be consumed in a persons diet. Monounsaturated fats can be found in foods like avocados, fish, nuts and oleic acid. Studies have shown that these "skinny" fats aid in weight loss, decrease inflammation, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Polyunsaturated fats appear mainly in plant based oils like cottonseed, corn, pumpkin, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower. Store bought products such as Mazola sometimes consist of several of these oils all in one bottle. Consuming foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can promote optimal health and delay the progression of alzheimer's and dementia. Fatty fish such as herring, salmon and sardines are excellent sources of this nutrient. While I don't want to end on a sour note here, there is one last type of fat I think needs some attention. These, like saturated fats, should be avoided as much as possible due to the numerous risks they pose in even small quantities. Many of you may not be aware they exist because they are snuck into many foods most of us enjoy on a fairly regular basis. What makes these so dangerous is that they are man-made from healthier fats that are a liquid at room temperature and changed or processed into unhealthy versions seen as solid fats. Margarine and shortening are just a couple examples. Other foods on which we indulge that can potentially have trans fats are doughnuts, french fries, fried chicken, frozen pizzas, microwave popcorn, nondairy coffee creamers and refrigerated biscuits or rolls. Seeing something made with partially hydrogenated oil (which are essentially trans fats) makes reading nutrition labels extremely crucial in eliminating or limiting trans fats from your daily diet. By using the "good" unsaturated fats instead of the "bad" saturated and trans ones in a meal preparation routine, noticeable differences in overall well-being should be evident. Hair follicles might become thicker and split less, nail beds won't break as easily, and skin cells may become more supple and give an ageless look. So while fat has been given a bad rap, if incorporated properly, it, in addition to being necessary, can actually be very beneficial. To conclude this article, let's remember that not all fat is bad and trying to completely remove it is not healthy or practical. Being informed and making wise choices when our health is involved goes a long way in preventing illness and ensuring we can indeed occasionally enjoy our comfort foods. Should you decide to have dessert after Thanksgiving dinner, burn off the calories by getting up, getting out, and getting moving the following day. Hope you all enjoy your Autumn celebrations and wonderful holiday season. I'll be back next Sunday with another nutrition topic. Until next time, happy harvest everyone! Survey question: What are you most thankful for this year?

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