Fat has become “the enemy” of our modern-day society. It seems that as long as something doesn’t have fat in it, is a healthy choice. Most people feel good with having a low fat or fat free diet. Today, let’s answer some questions about fat. Do we need it in our diet? Is all fat bad for you? and should we strive for close to non-existent levels of body fat?
Not all fats are equal
There are 4 major types of fat: saturated, trans, monosaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated and trans-fat are considered bad fat because they have been linked to reducing beneficial HDL cholesterol, clogged arteries and cardiovascular diseases. Then we have good fat, namely monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats which improve your HDL cholesterol and are beneficial when consumed as part of a healthy diet.
You can find good fat in olive and canola oils. You need omega-3 fats but your body cannot make it. Thus you need to eat foods high in omega-3 such as salmon, tuna, flaxseeds and walnuts. Saturated fats are mainly found in meat and dairy foods, so if you are going to reduce your intake of fat let it be the saturated fat and not the good fat that your body needs.
Why do we need fat?
There are a LOT of reasons why we need fat. I’m just going to talk about some of them. For starters, at a metabolic level, your body needs fat for vitamins A-D-E & K to be absorbed by your organs in order to function well. Fat is a major source of energy for your body and it has little effect on blood sugar levels. Foods that contain fat fill you up quicker so you stop eating earlier.
Fat is our insulation system, it is vital in helping regulate our body temperature. It is your body’s natural cushioning mechanism, as it surrounds and protects your organs and joints. As athletes, we need fat to protect our bodies from potential injury while exercising. Finally, when body fat percentage is too low, so are our glycogen levels, which will hinder our body’s ability to recover from a workout. In a sport as intense as CrossFit, we want to make sure that we have healthy levels of fat in order to perform better and see results.
What are healthy levels of fat?
Men and women are physiologically different which means that their needed fat levels are going to be different. For men, a healthy body fat percent is between 10-20% and in women the range is between 18-28%. There are different methods to measure body fat. Here at Celebration CrossFit we have the InBody scanner which will give your fat percentage, your fat mass and your healthy ranges. If you want help achieving healthy fat percentages, talk to any of the coaches. We will come up with a plan to get you where you need to be.
by coach Keren