Originally posted in December 2018, updated and made even more awesome in March 2020

WHY YOU NEED GOOD FATS (even more if you’re an athlete!)

Here’s what we’re laying down…

  • Not all fat is created equally, saturated vs. unsaturated fats
  • Coconut oil and MCTs
  • All about the omega 3 & 6 fats (EFAs)
  • When good fats turn bad
  • What oils to cook with
  • Proven benefits of fats for athletes
  • Recap summary of what you really need to know

.

Fats can be a complex and confusing topic. What’s healthy, what’s not; how much should I have, do they make me fat, can heating them be dangerous, how much is too much? These and other questions will hopefully be answered here without too much complicated science.

First of all, fats are NOT bad! As you will see in the following paragraphs, fats are absolutely essential to the functioning of virtually every system in your body. Without adequate dietary essential fatty acids, every system in the body that relies on them would be jeopardized – and that’s a lot of important stuff!

  • energy production

  • structure and function of all cells

  • modulation of cell division

  • maintenance of inflammatory processes

  • transportation of cholesterol

  • hormone production and balance

  • neurotransmitter function

  • skin permeability

Because the role of good fats in the body is primarily as a result of its protective sheath around all nerve fibres and its anti-inflammatory benefits – and because inflammation is now being recognized universally as the primary culprit behind ALL disease and illness (whoa, right?!) we can confidently say that healthy fats have earned their reputation as the ultimate protector in your body.

Interested in learning more about all the macronutrients?

Our Food Camp Fundamentals Nutrition Program is the essential online course to learn about, or refresh your memory on, all the macronutrients and their crucial roles in your body.  This comprehensive program also delivers menu plans, practical real-life tools, and tons of extras to help you build your best body from the inside out!

Check it out here!

NOT ALL FAT IS CREATED EQUALLY

To remain healthy, our bodies need both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. When fat is fully saturated (meaning it is holding all of the hydrogen it can – here I go using that chemistry that I swore I never would!), it interacts the least with other molecules in the body. Thus, we say it is the most stable. That is what makes saturated fats helpful to us structurally – because they help stabilize cell membranes, making the cell less susceptible to damage. It is damage to cells that ultimately lead to illness and disease. Therefore, YES even saturated fats have a use in our bodies. Although these fats have gotten a bad rap in older reports, new research has shown that some saturated fats (shorter-chain ones) offer important health benefits. Butter, for example, contains butyric acid and is associated with reduction of cancer risk.

Dr. Mercola states that the claim that all saturated fat should be eliminated is “a misguided fallacy that has been harming our health for the last 30-40 years”. Saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristic acid and lauric acid) play key roles in immune health. Loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Additionally, certain saturated fats, particularly those found in butter, coconut oil, and palm oil function directly as signalling messengers that influence metabolism, including such critical jobs as the appropriate release of insulin. Of course like all things, moderation is the key. The inclusion of a few small servings each week of saturated fats from lean cuts of organic red meat and tropical oils (coconut oil) will provide these benefits, as well as provide a healthy dose of iron, selenium, zinc and many B-vitamins.  Likewise, the occasional small pat of grass-fed butter provides a healthy dose of this saturated fat along with some vitamin A and D2.

1 Source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/31/coconut-oil-for-healthyheart

Curious about coconut oil?

Coconut oil is a whole food with a variety of saturated fats, including a combination of MCTs and LCTs (medium chain triglycerides and long chain triglycerides), so it is solid at room temperature. What makes MCTs unique is that they bypass the route that other fats take to be broken down in the body, and this can lead to a number of reported effects/benefits in the body.

Research is plenty, but conflicting on the benefits of using MCT for weight loss, sports performance or other health or athletic improvements. Check out our blog here where we explore what the science shows to date on MCT oil.