When talking about fats, it is easy to end up going down a wormhole of back and forth research, attempting to discern good from bad. With that being said, I will try to break this information down in a simple, sweet, and informative post that leaves you feeling confident about the foods you are eating in your everyday life.
Let's start off with our saturated fats, the dreaded fat that everyone wants to avoid. Because we should limit our daily intake of these fats, they are absolutely important to monitor. We should consume less than 10% of our daily calories from saturated fat. This will be about 16g to 22g per day. With that in mind, it is clear why it is so easy to over consume saturated fat when just a couple tablespoons provide your daily limit.
Saturated fat is a long straight carbon chain saturated with hydrogen bonds. This is the fat that is solid at room temperature and also found in animal products such as refined/hydrolyzed oils, red meat, baked goods, butter, cheese and dairy. This is that fat that also makes everything taste oh so good. In a limited amount this fat provides lots of benefits for the body such as normal cell function and transportation mechanisms for vitamins and minerals.
Next up is our monounsaturated fat. These contain a double bond in their carbon chain, creating a fat that is more useful to our body without so many hydrogen bonds attached. We want to eat as much of these as possible within our caloric daily limit. These fats are usually liquid at room temperature and can be found in foods such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts (almonds, pecans, brazil, cashews, peanuts). These fats help reduce heart disease and keep that bad cholesterol down (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL) up.
Polyunsaturated fats come in two types: omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. Both of these are essential fats that we must eat in order for our body to function properly. These fats are important because they are used to build cell membranes and the coverings of nerves and are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.
Omega 3 has a great reputation as it helps decrease inflammation, inhibit dangerous blood clotting, and lower levels of triglycerides. These fats are found in salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds and eggs.
Omega 6 is the most common type of fat-carrying particle in the blood, which means they are our number one transporter of molecules in our body. It is a very important molecule that we only need a tiny amount of. An overabundance can lead to clogged arteries and raised cholesterol.
With everything said, it is always good to remember that the less processed foods and more whole foods consumed, you will hit the right levels of these fats. Everything in moderation, and let our body handle the rest. The less we confuse it and stay on track with our healthy eating habits, the better you will feel. There is a reason why these fats are naturally found in our foods and have very specific purposes in our body. We should never avoid food groups or certain nutrients - instead we should eat in moderation, as this will give us all the nutrients we need.
-American Heart Association
-Science of Skinny by Dee McCaffrey
I want to continue talking about artificial sugar and why this may not be a healthier option over natural or even added sugars found in food. In my last blog we discussed added sugar and how to find and stay away from these sugars. If you missed it check out my blog here:
Artificial sweeteners have been a part of society for a long time now, and have made their way into the “healthy food” category by providing a way for people to avoid added sugar in their diet. For the most part, artificial sweeteners have no negative effect on our body and consumption in moderation is just fine. Just like everything else in life, moderation is key. It is when we start to replace all real sugar, natural and added, that we start to get ourselves in trouble with artificial sweeteners. As the name suggests artificial sweeteners are a processed food item intended to sweeten foods but not add any calories to your diet like regular sugar would. When we consume these sweeteners such as Splenda, Sweet and Low, or Nutrasweet, we are confusing our body by having a natural response to tasting something sweet and expecting a spike in glucose (simplest form of sugar) in the body which is our main source of energy. A long term response to this is our body craving more sugar more often because it is not getting the right amount of energy it needs from what the brain is expecting. This can lead to us eating even more processed foods, added sugar, and artificial sweeteners. Long term effects may even change our chemical makeup in our body to how we process and respond to sugar digestion. It is even recommended to consume natural sugar over an alternative artificial sweetener because it will keep our body running normally and decrease those sugar cravings. If you are going to splurge and have a yummy treat go for the real thing with real sugar to keep our body responses normal.
The next topic that goes along with our added and artificial sweeteners is trans fats. The food industry does everything it can to hide trans fats from us as these are the worst fats to consume. We have two main forms of cholesterol, LDL (the bad cholesterol) and HDL (the good cholesterol). LDL creates blockages in the arteries and buildup in our liver. HDL helps process and dispose of LDL. Trans fat increases our LDL and decreases our HDL and is recommended we limit our consumption to practically none if we can.
When we start to have high cholesterol (meaning high LDL levels) we can experience fatty liver build up, overworked kidneys, buildup of plaque in the arteries and heart, increased fat/weight gain. These outcomes can lead to failed liver and kidney functions, heart attacks, chronic pain and inflammation. SCARY!
Naturally occurring fats serve an important role in our bodies. When we eat healthy fats found in whole foods the fat molecule will bind to receptors on our cells and actually serve a very important function. When the fat binds to the cell it acts as a conduit for other nutrients that need to enter the cell. For example, glucose needs to be processed into energy INSIDE of our cells and require this fatty conduit to allow it into the cell. Without it the glucose will build up outside of the cell in the blood and cause blood sugar spikes eventually leading to diabetes.
It will fit but then it gets stuck and may even break off causing damage to the lock. When this happens all of the important biochemical reactions that need to occur inside our cells get disrupted including how sugars can’t get through the cell the way that they should. When we create a chronic situation by eating too many trans fats this will lead to diabetes. Who knew that eating too much trans fat will actually lead to a sugar related disease?
Are you surprised by how artificial sugars and trans fats are related in how they can impact your health? This is precisely why we need to focus on eating whole foods, just the way mother nature intended. When we stray towards these manufactured food products it creates a lot of confusion in our bodies and disrupts the delicate balance of how everything works.
Now I’m not saying that we need to completely eliminate these foods from our diet. We should still enjoy these foods when we do eat them and limit them to an occasional treat. The occasional time to consume these foods are usually going to be found during holidays, celebrations, birthdays, weddings, you name it. The more you can cut these foods out of your everyday diet the better you will feel and the healthier you will be.
Your body and brain will thank you for years to come if we start to treat it right now. It's never too late to make new healthy habits and break away from the bad. We will always slip up from time to time but having those good habits to fall back on will be what helps carry us through. We want to move, feel, and think better everyday instead of going into the decline of bad health.
References: The Science of Skinny, Dee McCaffrey
Images: DrPeterOsborne.com, ibslbiology.wordpress.com
A client of the month is someone who brings a positive attitude into their training sessions and sets an example for others to follow.
Are you ready to commit to your health & fitness? We would absolutely love to support you in your health & fitness journey! Click below to schedule a brief, no obligation phone call to learn more about how we support our clients in reaching their goals and to get all of your questions answered.
Wilcox Wellness & Fitness is so proud to announce our partnership with Midcoast Humane. We are excited to support Midcoast Humane through our Check-Ins for Charity Program where we donate to Midcoast Humane for each Facebook Check-in.
Midcoast Humane has overwhelming support from the community at Wilcox Wellness & Fitness and we are incredibly excited to be supporting this incredible organization.
Midcoast Humane is one of the biggest shelters in the state of Maine, operating animal sheltering facilities in Brunswick and Edgecomb, and providing care and second chances to nearly 3,500 animals every year.
Midcoast Humane is not just about the animals. They are about the people, too, acknowledging that animal companions are for everyone, and we all can make a difference in the lives of animals, and in turn animals can make a difference in the lives of humans.
Every animal that comes through the doors of Midcoast Humane receives excellent medical care, spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, and care & comfort while they are awaiting their forever family. Midcoast Human believes that every life is worth saving, and are proud of their successes in saving the lives of 97% of the animals who they care for.
The donations made to Midcoast Humane are put to good use. On average Midcoast Humane cares for 322 animals every day at a cost of $20/day per animal.
To date, we have donated this much money to Midcoast Humane through this Check-Ins for Charity Program:
Check-ins for Charity - LIVE Tracker by Allison Hopkins
We are so incredibly happy with the impact we are able to create in our local community!!!
I know what an important part my pets are to my family, to my mental health, and to the joy that I experience through their unconditional love. Our four legged family members hold a special place in our hearts, and I'm happy to be able to support Midcoast Humane and all of the work that they do to place animals into the loving homes who will experience the same joy through their adoptions.
I am even more happy to get behind the mission of Midcoast Humane to give back, and do more good.
Hi! My name is Allison Hopkins and I am the owner of Wilcox Wellness & Fitness in Brunswick, ME. I am excited to bring WILCOX to Brunswick and share in my passion for living a great life through health and fitness.