The Macronutrient Mess- Part IV- Fat!
Today, we will be discussing the third and final macro nutrient in our discussion- fat!
Fat is one of the most misunderstood nutrients in our diet. Wander around a grocery store, and you will find food packages that advertise that they contain little or no fat. Others say they are full of “healthy fats”. What gives? Is fat good for you, or not? And if so, what kinds? What makes a fat healthy or unhealthy? Let’s dive into the world of fat!
Fat has many useful functions in the body. Its primary function is to be a source of steady fuel for efficient activities. Remember last week when we described carbohydrates as the quick fuel that we need for times of stress. Fat fuels the body when stress levels drop. Since stress should be rare (hopefully you aren’t running from bears all day, if so, you should probably move), your efficient, fat burning state should be the default. Fat serves to insulate our bodies and keep our organs warm. Fat helps regulate our hormones and our cholesterol. Some vitamins require fat to become absorbed, like vitamin D (pretty important these days). There are certain fats that are “essential”- you cannot make them, so you must eat them. And, especially when eaten with proteins, fat can provide true satiety and prevent hunger and cravings. Let’s go deeper, and discuss how fat functions as an energy source in the body. If you have read our blogs before, you know that we love analogies around here, so let’s steal another one! Suppose you have a fire. It is your job to keep the fire running so that you can stay warm. You have one big pile of kindling, small things like paper, sticks, and twigs. You have another pile of bigger logs that you split with an ax. Are both fuel sources necessary for the fire? Yes, absolutely! The kindling is great to start the fire, as it provides a temporary but intense flash of heat and flame. It makes the fire a little smoky, and you would need a ton of this kindling to keep the fire going. Good thing you have the logs as well! Once the fire has been started, logs become quite useful. They keep the fire burning, low and slow, for a long time. Logs burn cleaner, so there is less smoke. And since the fire is burning low and slow, you now have more time and energy to do other useful things.