To fuel our daily activities, our bodies rely on 3 key macronutrients for calories: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Carbohydrates are our bodies’ and brains main fuel or gasoline because it’s the easiest type to breakdown and utilize. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissue and are responsible for either maintaining or building new muscle mass. Fat is essential for key biological processes and utilization of certain vitamins and minerals. As you can see, it’s never healthy to go on diets that completely eliminate any of the key macronutrients because they are all needed. Effective diets merely adjust the ratios and proportions of each with the others.
In terms of calorie density, fat takes the cake. With about 9 calories per gram, it is more than those of carbohydrates and proteins combined (a gram of each only has 4 calories). This is the reason why healthy diets tend to limit – not eradicate – fat content or calories. Despite the calorie density, eating a healthy amount of fat is beneficial for our fat loss efforts.
FAT VS. FAT
Consuming fatty acids have been found to boost metabolic health, according to a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Better metabolic health equals faster metabolism and consequently, increase fat loss.
Apart from metabolic health, our bodies cannot efficiently burn existing body fat, e.g., belly, buttocks and thigh fats, without the help of new ones, according to researchers at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis. A healthy dose of dietary fat helps our bodies break down stubborn body fat by helping the liver’s fat- burning pathways.
FULLER FOR LONGER
Apart from being the most calorie dense macronutrient, fat is also the most difficult one to digest, helping us feel fuller for longer. And when we feel that way, we eat less and consequently, burn more fat.
Certain healthy fats, particularly mono- unsaturated fatty acids, help stabilize blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar levels are stable, intense sugar or carbohydrate cravings are kept at bay, allowing us to stick to healthier foods like complex carbohydrates and clean proteins instead of going for high- calorie, high-processed and sugary treats.
Let’s face it, strict dieting for effective and efficient fat-loss doesn’t really make for one happy fat-loss camper. Being unhappy with a diet, no matter how healthy or effective it is, increases the risk of eventually ditching it. It is therefore important to have a certain level of happiness when trying to diet away fat.
To this extent, a healthy amount of dietary fast can help us feel happier while on a fat loss diet and thus, increase our chances of successfully sticking to it and burn off excess body fat.
Take for example a research from Purdue University that indicates that our taste buds detect fat in food. This explains why even the most intricately prepared low-fat versions are less efficient in making us feel satiated. And failure to feel satiated while on a diet increases the risk of becoming unhappy and consequently, the risk of dropping out. It seems that fat may altogether be an entirely different taste compared to what we accept to be the basic ones, i.e., sweet, salty, sour and bitter.
Healthy dietary fats, particularly omega- 3 fatty acids, also help elevate serotonin levels in our brains, which lead to better mood, higher motivation and more self-
control over eating. Fat is happiness.
MUSCLE BUILDING FAT
According to Rachel Cosgrove, CSCS, who is the owner and one of the trainers of Results Fitness, eating healthy amounts of healthy fat can actually help increase muscle mass, which is key to increasing metabolism or maintaining an already healthy one. A 2011 study that was featured in Clinical Science showed that fat increases protein concentration as well as the size of muscle cells. Other previous studies have also shown that omega 3 fatty acids improve synthesis of muscle proteins in older people and can help slow down muscle atrophy due to aging.