The Macro Diaries Part 3: Fat
Possibly the most misunderstood of all macronutrients. In this blog we look to demystify some of the more common misconception of fat
What is it?
Today I’m going to talk about the dreaded FAT! If you follow mine and fellow Liverpool Personal trainer Dave Mercers podcast you will have already seen a lot of what I am going to discuss in this article. If you don’t already follow you should: The Lid Lifters Podcast
Anyway, FAT! What is it? Well it’s a number of things to different people. To most it’s a macronutrient that provides us with a ton of energy and plays various other important roles in the body. To some it’s the stuff that lines our organs, waists and thighs and they will do almost anything (sometimes recklessly) to get it off. Whilst to others it’s a slanderous word that causes emotional harm which can lead to whole host of unhealthy consequences.
Soo lets work backwards…
1) The word Fat
This is where I think a lot of the confusion surrounding fat and where it comes from. As myself and Dave discuss in our episode Fat doesn’t make you fat (another shameless plug) a lot of people have a negative view on fat as a food source simply because of the manner in which the word fat is used. Some assume that the fat we consume in food automatically become the adipose tissue (body fat) that sits on our waists and other areas of the body. This is not true, too many calories are the cause for excess body fat but we’ll discuss this later on in the article. On top of that, when we go food shopping a lot of the advertised ‘healthy foods’ have FAT FREE or LOW FAT printed on the packaging causing more confusion. In addition the government recommended guidelines shown on the front of food packaging tend to use RED when displaying fat content which again gives fat a negative reputation as we all know red=danger, it’s no wonder we have a nation full of confused dieters not knowing who, or what to trust.
2) Body Fat
As mentioned earlier some people assume the fat we consume is the very same fat that lines our stomachs, NOPE. Day to day, we consume energy through food and use that fuel for every single thing we do, even thinking. Our bodies cannot survive without said fuel so the intelligent machine that is the human body ensures we have fuel in reserve, and this is stored in the form of body fat. Body fat is stored when we consume more energy than we expend. The body sees no sense in getting rid of unused energy which is why it is stored away for a rainy day. The fact the body stores fat is a good thing, the problem is down to humans having a lack of control over energy consumption and expenditure.
3) The Macronutrient
A macronutrient is one of four substrates, or type of foods. We have fat, protein, carbs and alcohol. These are all needed in large amounts in our diets and play vital roles (except alcohol which doesn’t have a function other than getting you drunk, which is sort of important haha). Different macronutrients have different purposes and should be applied to people’s diets in different amounts depending on a host of factors.
Other important roles:
1) Fat is an insulator- body fat keeps us warm
2) Protects our organs in the form of visceral fat
3) Supports our immune system
4) Fat plays an important role in some cellular functions e.g. our central nervous system
But how should fat be applied in the diet?
First off let’s talk about the caloric value of fat. We receive 9 calories from every 1 g of fat consumed meaning that if you eat something with 10g of dietary fat in you receive 90 calories from it. But how much should we have per day? Well there are a number of general
recommendations from a few legitimate sources (no, not your tub of Nutella). These vary from around 15% to 40% of total caloric intake. How I apply this to clients is simple:
1) We will discuss goals, lifestyle, training and a whole other host of things
2) I will get some general information of foods they like to consume f rom food diaries and talking to them
3) From there, set total caloric intake. If they want to lose fat put them in a deficit, if they want to build muscle I’ll put them in a calorie surplus
4) Then macronutrients: first set protein goals (if you have read my previous article on protein The Macro Diaries Part 2: Protein you will know a good starting place for protein is 1g per lb of bodyweight). Next set FAT, so if you like fattier foods start with a higher percentage, if you don’t start with a lower percentage just try and keep it within the recommended guidelines. Lastly, figure out how many calories you have from your original overall caloric intake and there’s your carbohydrate amount.
5) Give it time, if after 2 weeks or so it isn’t helping you make steps towards your end goal, adjust appropriately.
Want to know a little bit more about fat & the vital part it plays in your diet? Or simply want a little bit more information about nutrition & how I can help you then why not get in touch with me directly here