Many so-called ‘professionals’ in the health and fitness industry are quick to demonise and scrutinise particular macronutrients, food groups and styles of dieting. This scrutiny always seems to be seasonal and somewhat ‘on trend’ creating false perceptions, crazes and fads. These seasonal periods give rise to confusion and a misunderstanding of the science of nutrition and what adequate nutrition, fat loss requirements and health requirements should be practised.
Amazing transformation by our Equalution client Tash in just under 3 months!
This was achieved through independently selecting foods of her choice meeting our strategised macronutrient and micronutrient intake requirements set on a weekly basis according to her progress and goals.
One element of nutrition that has been tangled in a web of confusion and misunderstanding is FAT. Not the fat that you carry around your midsection after a few too many months of overindulging, but fat the macronutrient. Macronutrients as the name suggests, are required in large amounts by the body as they are nutrients that provide calories or energy. There are three macronutrients in nutrition which are proteins, fats and carbs and are required for growth, metabolism and other bodily functions.
More specifically, fat is an important macronutrient for protecting organs, maintaining cell membranes, promoting growth and development and absorbing essential vitamins. We’d recommend a fat intake of around 20-35% of total daily calories. One gram of fat contains about 9 calories which is more than double a gram of carb or protein, hence the vilification. Additionally - any form of high-intensity training will benefit from a 'fat buffer' in your diet - which controls free radical damage & inflammation.
Why fat won’t make you fat...
The misleading sources that are ignorant of the necessity of fat within your diet and tell you to cut fat entirely usually fail to acknowledge or mention the importance of thermodynamics in a fat loss diet. Quite simply, the energy in vs. energy out equation of fat loss. The bottom line to fat loss is that it’s not the fat or carbohydrate that is inherent for making your weight loss diet ineffective, but the total energy (calories) that are you’re attaining through your total daily intake instead being responsible for excess weight gain or lack of results. Whether it be fat, carbohydrates or protein, under or overeating any of these will cause you to fall short in your efforts.
Fat isn’t the driver of fat gain, it’s just simply more energy-dense than carbohydrates and protein. However, if adhering to the recommended 20-30% of your total daily intake in a calorie deficit your fat intake won’t be the root cause of any issues.
The benefits of fat
Fat has MANY health and performance benefits for individuals. Here’s a few:
- Proper hormone function
- Cell membrane health
- Brain function
- Nutrient absorption
- Energy production
- Source of multiple micronutrients
What science says
Our reliable and science fuelled educators at Science Driven Nutrition have collated and assessed some scientific studies and come to the following conclusions busting some myths about fat:
1. Eating fat makes you burn fat: True
2. High-fat diets make you burn more calories: False
3. A ketogenic state makes you burn the most fat and offers a metabolic advantage: False
4. Eating more fat makes you lose more fat since you are using fat for fuel: False
5. Carbohydrates are stored more easily than fat: False
6. You eat less when you eat high fat meals: False
7. Fat is more satiating than carbohydrates: False
8. Eating fat before a meal makes you eat less: False
You can check out the full article here: http://sciencedrivennutrition.com/truth-high-fat-diets/
High-fat diets and fat loss
Like cutting fat, increasing fat and high-fat diets have also been a trending fad in the world of ‘fat loss acceleration’ speculation in recent years. Again, fat loss and fat gain will always rest on the equation of calories in VS calories out. Meeting macronutrient targets - so the required number of protein, fats and carbs for your body affects the amount of muscle you retain while losing body fat.
This is the significant difference between FAT LOSS vs. WEIGHT LOSS. Fat loss is meeting an optimal macronutrient split while in a calorie deficit and retaining muscle while losing body fat. Weight loss will come from a calorie deficit which is either aggressive or is too low in protein, high in carbs or fat and will result in weight loss on the scales from muscle, water and perhaps some fat, but won’t be as favourable aesthetically and likely in how you feel too.
So overdoing a particular macronutrient will NOT work favourably for your body composition given it will usually be ‘taken’ from the calorie budget of another macronutrient. If you’re eating high fat, you’re probably not getting enough protein or carbs. High-fat diets without calorie tracking or consciousness also make it a lot easier to exceed an energy deficit and therefore consume more calories than expenditure defeating the fat loss goal and instead gaining weight. Why? Because fat has over double the calories per gram than carbs and protein. For that reason portions are easier to distort and excess calorie consumption before getting ‘full’ is easier.
Here’s some calorie comparisons to show just how easy the intake in fat sources can clock up:
Overall, the take-home message is simple: eating fat won't make you fat, but excessive calorie consumption will. We recommend a diet that is rich in high omega 3 fat sources like nuts, eggs, avocado, salmon etc as your fat sources but keeping your intake within 20-30% of your overall daily calorie consumption. Don’t forget, you can fit in your favourite fat sources like chocolate as part of an 80/20 approach (80% wholesome and nutrient-dense foods and 20% flexible and fun soul foods) for better adherence and relationship with food while dieting!
Yours in Health & Fitness,
The Equalution Team