Along with carbohydrates, fat has really gotten itself a bad reputation over the last 40 years or so, which is a shame because it has done a lot of damage to the way we view food. Fat, like protein and carbohydrate, is a macronutrient and is essential for our health. Contrary to popular belief, you need to eat fat if you want to have a healthy body.

In this blog I will be answering the following questions:

1. What is dietary fat?

2. Why do we need to eat fat?

3. How much fat should we eat on a daily basis?

4. What foods can I get it from?

5. Should I have a low fat diet if I am trying to lose weight?

So first of all, let’s take a look at what dietary fat actually is…

Dietary fat is one of the three macronutrients and is essential for health. Do not be fooled by the ‘low fat revolution’ – you must eat healthy fats on a daily basis if you want to have a healthy, well functioning body. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, so when you compare it to protein and carbohydrate (4 calories per gram), it contains more than double the amount of energy. Therefore, your portion size of fat in your meal will be a lot smaller.

There are a few different types of fats:

Saturated – can be found mostly in animal products such as meat, cheese, milk and eggs and are solid at room temperature.

Trans – Artificial trans fats are harmful to the body. They are created using a process called ‘hydrogenation’ which changes their chemical structure. You’ll find these in typical fast foods and fried foods. Natural trans fats can be found in small amounts in foods like dairy and beef.

Monounsaturated – this is the most common kind of unsaturated fat and is found in foods like avocados, olive oils, rapeseed oils and peanuts.

Polyunsaturated – these are found in foods like nuts, seeds and vegetable oils as well as some fish.

- Essential Fatty Acids (polyunsaturated) – Omega 3 & 6. Omega 3 is found in foods like oily fish (mackerel and salmon for example). These cannot be made by the body so must be obtained from our diet.

2. Why do we need fat in our diet?

Some of you might be surprised to read this but you absolutely 100% do need to eat fat. So forget everything you’ve ever been told and listen up – eliminating fat from your diet is not healthy. And here’s why…

You need fat as a source of energy. Next to carbohydrates, fat is a source of energy for your body so it’s important that you get enough!

Essential fatty acids (remember, omegas 3 & 6) are required for growth and development as well as cell function. Your body cannot make them so they must be obtained through your diet.

You need to eat fat if you want to have nice looking skin, hair and nails. Seriously. People often say I have nice skin, I put it down to the obscene amount of avocado I consume!

There are certain vitamins that require fat to transport them around your body in order to do their job (fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K).

Fat is required for forming hormones that regulate your body’s processes – and we all know what we’re like if our hormones aren’t functioning well. Enough said.

3. How much fat should I eat on a daily basis?

This is another ‘it depends’ question but if you’re looking for something to aim for – around 20-30% of your daily intake should come from fat. You can use a tracking app like My Fitness Pal to check you are getting enough.

4. What foods can I get it from?

Here are some sources of healthy fats:

Nuts, seeds, oils (olive oil, coconut oil, nut oils etc), avocados, daily, oily fish and chocolate. Dark chocolate is best.

5. Should I have a low fat diet if I am trying to lose weight?

I reckon by now you can probably answer this question yourself but just incase you’ve skipped the bulk of the blog and just want to know the answer?

NO.

You absolutely 100% need to eat fat on a daily basis. Don’t cut it out. Don’t listen to old school diet clubs and the media. Listen to me. I know my shit.

About the Author

“All in or all out”

Rachael is a vibrant, no-bullshit-talking Scottish nutrition geek and coach helping women to lose weight without giving up their confidence OR their favourite foods.

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