Why does fat get such a bad rap?
The word fat has such a bad stigma behind it. When we say the word fat, we tend to think of our over sized mid-section, the flap on the back of our arms, and the jiggle in our thighs. But not all fat is bad. Fat is actually essential in the proper functioning of our body and brain. What really differentiates the good and the bad fats is their structure and their functioning in our body. Our bodies also store fat in different areas, which can be considered more troublesome for your health in one area over another. I will be laying out some facts about the good, the bad, and the ugly fats.
Q: What are fats and what is their main function?
Fats are a compound that are found in both your food and in your body. Fat is stored and used as energy in the body. There are three main types of fat in our food; unsaturated fat (polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat), saturated fats, and trans fats. The two types found in your body are subcutaneous and visceral fat.
Q: What types of fats should I avoid eating?
The fats you should avoid are trans-fat and saturated fat. Consuming too much of these types of fats lead to high cholesterol in the blood and an increased risk of developing heart disease. You find these types of fat in processed foods, fatty meats (red meat, pork, etc.), whole milk, butter, yogurt, cream, and cheese. You can lower the fat content in the products you consume by getting the fat free product alternatives or lower fat products, such as 2% milk.
Unsaturated fats tend to be healthier in nature. They are required in moderation to sustain proper bodily functions. They encourage the increase in good cholesterol (HDL) in your body and actually lower your risks of heart disease and stroke. Monounsaturated fats include avocado, olive oil, canola oil, and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats include Omega-6 found in fatty fish like salmon and nuts.
Q: What are some other important functions of fats in the body?
Processing of certain essential vitamins that are fat soluble. This means that they can only be used and processed in our bodies with the help of fats.
Healthy skin and hair growth
Maintaining homeostasis within the body including temperature
Q: What is the difference between the different types of fat stored in my body?
There are two main types of fats stored in your body, visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat you can see on your thighs and arms. Visceral fat is the fat surrounding your organs. It is worse to have more visceral fat then subcutaneous fat. You can actually be thin, but have a large amount of visceral fat. High Visceral fat is linked to high levels of inflammation in the body, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. It is very hard to measure your visceral fat, but you can estimate by using your BMI. The higher your BMI, the higher your visceral fat typically is. Also, if you have an unhealthy lifestyle, are sedentary, eat a lot of fast food, and drink a lot of sugary
drinks, then you have a higher risk of developing detrimental amounts of visceral fat. This means that you are putting your body at a way higher risk of developing diseases of all types.
Q: What can I do to prevent and get rid of visceral fat?
EXERCISE EXERCISE EXERCISE
Eat healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.
STOP OR LIMIT EATING OF PROCESSED FOODS. PERIOD!
I hope this helps bring knowledge and awareness about the good, the bad, and the ugly fats in our bodies. I will conclude that It is vital to consume fat, only in moderation, as it is very important to your health in many aspects. When choosing to eat fats, make sure you are eating unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Lastly, the best way to avoid developing high amounts of visceral fat is exercise and eating healthy.
Kaley Hallowich NCSF CPT NCCPT BS MS