Before I give away the keys to the car and let you drive it away, we need to discuss the last macronutrient that helps your body function. Today we will talk about fats. Yes those dreaded fats. Misunderstood and blamed for many ills, yet so essential. To understand fats we must understand their role in nutrition.
Fat acts like a lubricator, the oil in the car that we call your body. Fats provides insulation, they are an energy storehouse, they provide padding for essential organs, and truth be told you need fats in order to function. Just like the oil in your car you don't need fat as often as protein. I have tried to simplify as much as I can the role of carbs, proteins and fats throughout this series but they all comprise a very complex, fairly complicated system.
Fats are characterized into 4 different types:
1. Polyunsaturated fats, which include nuts and seeds
2. Monounsaturated fats, which are oils
3. Saturated fats, which are solids
4. Trans fatty acids, which are hydrogenated.
Fats are not created equally as you can see. The more natural a fat is the better it is for you. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the healthy fats, saturated fats should be limited and trans fat should be avoided. Many restaurants and food manufacturers have eliminated trans fatty acids from their foods. Saturated fat is solid at room temp and is found in meat and processed foods. Too much saturated fat has been shown to raise cholesterol to unhealthy levels. Trans fats are unnatural and not found in nature. They are artificially created by a chemical process in which a metal (iron, copper etc) is used to cause a chemical reaction in which hydrogen binds with the triglycerides present.
Your body doesn't recognize them and therefore does not know what to do with them. This is the fat that builds up in the blood vessels more so than saturated fat leading to arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and numerous other health issues. Always remember, the more a food is processed and tampered with the less nutritious and healthy it becomes. Don't forget that fat has the highest caloric value of any food. When you purchase processed food, which has a lot of additives, or eat too much fat your body will not be able to process it or use it properly.
Dietary fat is broken down by the stomach and small intestine. It is then distributed via the lymphatic system and bloodstream to the cells for a variety of special uses, or in the absence of carbs for energy. However it is not the preferred choice of fuel of the body so when too much is consumed it is stored as body fat in the adipose tissue.
When you combine all the processed foods that are shoved in front of us with overeating and a sedentary lifestyle you can see just how easy it is to gain fat. Throw in the larger portion sizes that we have come to expect and it's not hard to figure out why 1 out of 3 Americans is considered obese. Take a spin down your grocery isles and take a look at how many packaged foods proclaim to have 20, 30 even 40% more product than before.
In this day of giant portions and make me feel good now attitude, and long work hours we have forsaken quality for quantity. We have been conditioned to equate more with better.
In the beginning of this article I said I would give you the keys to the car, that car being your body. Now that you know how your body incorporates and assimilates the different nutrients you provide I hope you are ready to jump in the drivers seat. I will show you a sample diet in the upcoming installment that will help you lead a healthy lifestyle, key word being lifestyle. Diets don't work people. Stop it. Stop making excuses. If you are overweight there is only one reason. YOUR'E EATING TOO MUCH! Yes, I know it's hard to believe but that is the number one cause of obesity along with lack of exercise. Make a choice today. Put the best fuel possible in your body and you will be astounded by the way it will respond. Just like a car.
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