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Fat Power: Healthy Fats And Why You Need Them In Your Diet

You might not have thought a lot about the power of fat, but consuming the right types of fat could make a big difference when it comes to your health.

Here’s a look at the role certain types of fats play in helping people not only lose weight but also stay in great shape and support their health.

Saturated Vs. Unsaturated Fats

foods representing healthy fatsThere are two main types of fats – bad and good. Bad fats include saturated fats. They get their name through their chemical composition. Saturated fat molecules are, well, saturated with hydrogen molecules.1

A lot of extremely popular foods contain saturated fats. These include pork, cheese, butter, cream, and fatty beef.2
What’s really important, however, is the effect that saturated fats can have on your health. And it’s not good. These fats raise LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels. This is the “bad” type of cholesterol that can clog blood vessels and lead to severe cardiovascular problems.3

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are good for you. They’re called “unsaturated” because they’re not saturated with hydrogen molecules.4 Unsaturated fats can actually help the body in many ways, such as lowering cholesterol levels.5 There are two main types of unsaturated fats – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Here’s a closer look at each.

Healthy Fats To Consume While Dieting: Polyunsaturated Fats And Monounsaturated Fats

Olive oil conceptPolyunsaturated fats not only help lower cholesterol levels but also support the health of your cells. They also help ensure you have a good supply of vitamin E. Polyunsaturated fats are also a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.6 You’ll learn more about why this is important in a bit.

Sources of polyunsaturated fats include fish, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.7

Monounsaturated fats help increase the levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol. Olive and canola oils are good sources of monounsaturated fats. Nuts and avocados are as well.8

Why Are Omega-3 And Omega-6 Fats So Important?

You’ve probably heard of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. But why are they so important to your health? One reason is that they help form the membranes that make up our cells. They also play a role in supporting healthy blood pressure levels.9

The body can’t make these fats on its own, so you must get them through food or supplementation. In fact, omega-3 and omega-6 are the only fatty acids the body can’t produce. You’ll find them in not only many types of plants but also salmon, herring, and other so-called “oily” fish. Egg yolks and meat also contain omega-3s and omega-6s.10

Can You Still Lose Weight While Consuming A Diet High In Healthy Fats?

weight loss conceptThere is some evidence that you may be able to burn fat by consuming foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats. This could help reduce the risk of developing obesity. According to one study, people who followed this type of diet saw a greater bodyweight decrease than those who adhered to other types of weight loss plans.11

The results of another study suggest that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet could help people burn calories. The people who consumed 20 percent of their daily calories through carbs expended a substantially greater amount of energy than those who consumed higher percentages of carbs.12

The Keto Diet

ketogenic diet conceptOne type of low-carb, high-fat diet is known as the ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short. The purpose of the diet is for the body to achieve a state of ketosis. This is where the body burns fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. In some cases, people on this diet have seen a reduction in body fat as well as an increase in muscle mass.13

As with any diet (as you’ll learn in a bit), you should speak with your doctor first before attempting the keto diet. There are some instances where it could be dangerous.14

How Does Insulin Resistance Affect Fat Metabolism?

If you have a hard time losing weight, one potential reason could be insulin resistance. This is an issue regarding blood sugar levels. It can increase the risk of potentially serious cardiovascular problems.15

Insulin resistance occurs when your muscle, fat, and liver cells fail to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. This can eventually lead to dangerous levels of glucose in the blood, as well as liver and heart damage. Signs of this issue include excessive belly fat.16

What does this have to do with fat metabolism? Well, insulin plays a major role in how the body metabolizes or breaks down, fat. When someone has insulin resistance, it can’t metabolize fat the way it should. The body may then accumulate more belly fat as a result.17

Talk With Your Doctor Before Starting Any Kind Of Diet

No matter what your reasons may be for wanting to lose weight, you should always talk to a doctor before making any changes to your diet.

When you talk to your doctor about a weight loss program, he or she will likely give you useful information on how to change your eating and lifestyle habits. Your doctor may also recommend that you speak with a nutrition specialist.

Here’s to you and your health!

Learn More:

Saturated with Lies: The Truth About Fat You Need to Know

What are CLA Benefits for Weight Loss?

What Is A Ketogenic Diet Plan? (and is a keto diet dangerous)


Sources
1. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats
2. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats
3. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/prevention-and-treatment-of-high-cholesterol-hyperlipidemia/the-skinny-on-fats
4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/unsaturated_fat.htm
5. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/
6. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/polyunsaturated-fats
7. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000747.htm
8. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/choose-healthy-fats
9. https://www.eufic.org/en/whats-in-food/article/the-importance-of-omega-3-and-omega-6-fatty-acids
10. https://www.eufic.org/en/whats-in-food/article/the-importance-of-omega-3-and-omega-6-fatty-acids
11. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-018-1636-y
12. https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/363/bmj.k4583.full.pdf
13. https://www.endocrineweb.com/news/diabetes/61638-keto-diet-good-bad-being-ketosis-good-way-lose-weight
14. https://www.endocrineweb.com/news/diabetes/61638-keto-diet-good-bad-being-ketosis-good-way-lose-weight
15. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-2-diabetes/insulin-resistance-causes-symptoms
16. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-2-diabetes/insulin-resistance-causes-symptoms
17. https://lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12944-015-0123-1