Fat Facts: Think You Know Them? Think Again

Fat is often perceived as a bad part of our diets and more importantly they should be avoided at all cost. This however is not true and the information below will discuss some important facts about fat that everyone should know as it directly relates to ones sporting performance. Your body needs some type fat but the kind that you consume is what you should be taking notice of. In some instances your body uses it as an energy source, while in other instances your body uses it as insulation from the cold and protection for the organs and bones. Fat is also important for the absorption and storage of the fat soluble vitamins (A, E, D and K).

Athletes often need to have low levels of body fat but they still need to have enough for health and as a backup energy source. Females especially can have serious health issues if they do not have enough stored body fat. As stated above the type of fat that an athlete consumes is also important. There are two main types of fat; saturated fat and unsaturated fat.

Saturated fat is known as ‘bad’ fat. This type of fat is dangerous for your health as it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and many other health conditions. This blubber increases the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body. This is the cholesterol that clogs up the arteries making them narrow. Saturated fats are found mainly in fat from an animals including the fat which is seen around chops or on a steak. It also includes the fat which is found in dairy products and in many processed treat foods like chocolate, biscuits and pastries.

Unsaturated fat is the ‘good’ fat. The reason this type is considered healthy is because it helps to lower the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body. It also plays a role in brain function and may be protective against many diseases. This type of fat should make up majority of an individual’s intake, even though overall it should never be too high. The unsaturated fats can be further broken into two groups; the monounsaturated fats and the polyunsaturated fats. Good sources of unsaturated fat include nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish, and most plant based oils like olive oil. It is possible to check the type of fat on the label of the food that you choose.

Even though athletes can eat a lot more than an average member of the general public, mainly because they do more activity, they must still ensure that they eat the right amount of fat and that most of this fat is from the unsaturated fats. It can be tempting for athletes to consume more junk food just because they are working out, however over eating foods which are high in saturated fat (or bad fat) will not improve their health or sporting performance.

Remember, certain types of fat are important to an athlete’s daily diet so they should not be completely excluded from their diet. Instead the athlete should aim to consume most of their fat as unsaturated fat and limit their intake of saturated fats. Fat can be used as a source of energy and it has many other important roles in health so is part of a healthy diet.

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