The last in our macronutrient series are fats, or lipids. The most energy dense of the macronutrients (9 calories per gram), provide the most energy bang for your buck. There are several types of fats (saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated). All of these fats with the exception of trans fatty acids (or trans fats) are necessary for a healthy diet. Although they occur in small quantities in some animal foods, trans fats are typically found in highly processed foods to make them tasty and shelf stable. Stay away from these!
In terms of best choices for health, unsaturated fats are the best, however saturated fats should also be enjoyed in moderation.
In order of best choices for health:
Monounsaturated fats (olive oils, avocados, olives, nut butters, canola oil and safflower oils)
Polyunsaturated fats (fatty fish like salmon, corn, soybean and cotton seed oils)
Saturated fats (solid at room temperature): animals fats, butter and cheese, palm and coconut oils
Trans fats include: frozen pizza, deep fried fast foods, margarine, packaged baked goods, processed foods
Fats are good for you and a necessary part of a healthy diet. That being said, if you want to lose excess body fat then limiting your fat intake is the best place to start.
How much fat do you need? It depends on what your goals are. The recommendation is anywhere from 20-35% of your total daily calories. I think this recommendation is a bit high, especially if your goal is to lose excess body fat. I calculate my fat AFTER my protein and carbohydrate needs have been met. We will address this in depth in a later post.
Tomorrow we will talk about nutrition density and why that matters.