The Facts on Fats

The Facts on Fats (updated)

Updated – Originally published 07/31/2017

Fat is a nutrient necessary for overall health. Our body uses fat for energy, insulation, and to help absorb vitamin A, D, E and K.

The Dietary Reference Intakes created by the Institute of Medicine recommends 20-35% of calories should come from fat.

Fat gets a bad reputation, but not all fats are the same. There are different types of fats: unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat), saturated fat, and trans fat.

Unsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats should make up most of your daily fat intake. They may improve blood cholesterol levels and decrease risk of heart disease and are found in nuts, seeds, oils – olive or avocado oil, avocado, nut butters.

Polyunsaturated fats are essential in our diet because our bodies do not produce these on their own. This includes Omega-3 fatty acids, which are the building blocks of cell membranes and may help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. These fats are found in fatty fish (examples: salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna), walnuts, flax seeds, soy products, leafy vegetables, eggs and whole grains.

The 3 most common Omega-3 fatty acids are EPA, DHA, and ALA

– EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) can help reduce inflammation in the body.
– DHA (ocosahexaenoic acid) makes up around 8% of brain weight, and is very important for brain development and function.
– ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is mainly used for energy, and can be converted into EPA and DHA.

Omega-6 fatty acids are primarily used for energy in the body. Although omega-6 fatty acids are essential, they are over consumed in the Western diet. The recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is 4:1 or less, but a typical Western diet is 10:1 up to 50:1. These fatty acids are found in corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, nuts, and eggs.

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Saturated Fats & Trans Fats

Eating too much trans and saturated fat is linked with higher risk of heart disease.

Trans fats are made from oils through a processing method partial hydrogenation, which can increase total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride levels. These fats are found in baked goods, fried foods, margarine, and many fast foods.

Saturated fat can increase LDL and HDL levels and can be found in lard, butter, red meat, full-fat dairy, and tropical oils.

Coconut oil has increased in popularity over the past few years, because of its medium chain triglyceride (MCT) content, which are known to have health benefits. Less than 15% of the fat in coconut oil is MCT. Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat at 82% saturated fat. In comparison butter is 63% and lard is 39% saturated fat. Some research has been done on the benefits, but there is no good scientific evidence that coconut oil has any health benefits.

Key takeaway: fat should be included as part of a well-balanced diet, but trans and saturated fats should be consumed in moderation.

 

The Facts on Fat | The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

 


 

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About Ashley Pearson, Registered Dietitian

Ashley Pearson, Registered DietitianAshley has been passionate about nutrition and physical activity since high school, where she developed her love for running and nutrition. Ashley has completed multiple marathons, and other road races, and understands how to properly fuel the body before, during, and after a workout, race, or game to maximize performance.

Ashley has had a variety of experiences from the food industry, to sports nutrition, to inpatient care. Prior to joining the Performance team, she spent 5 years in the Chicago area specializing in weight management, and medical nutrition therapy for chronic diseases.

In her free time, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters, as well as running, cooking, and traveling.

Tom P

Since joining Performance, I have made huge gains. The process of recovering from knee surgery has been much easier because of the expertise of the Performance staff in helping me get back to full strength. I would recommend this gym to anyone.*

About Ashley Pearson, Registered Dietitian

Ashley Pearson, Registered DietitianAshley has been passionate about nutrition and physical activity since high school, where she developed her love for running and nutrition. Ashley has completed multiple marathons, and other road races, and understands how to properly fuel the body before, during, and after a workout, race, or game to maximize performance.

Ashley has had a variety of experiences from the food industry, to sports nutrition, to inpatient care. Prior to joining the Performance team, she spent 5 years in the Chicago area specializing in weight management, and medical nutrition therapy for chronic diseases.

In her free time, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters, as well as running, cooking, and traveling.

Kim C

Performance Fitness Member

“I joined Performance and it has changed my life. Gone are the days when I dreaded trying on clothes at the store, Thanks to Performance, I feel like a super fit mom.”*

About Ashley Pearson, Registered Dietitian

Ashley Pearson, Registered DietitianAshley has been passionate about nutrition and physical activity since high school, where she developed her love for running and nutrition. Ashley has completed multiple marathons, and other road races, and understands how to properly fuel the body before, during, and after a workout, race, or game to maximize performance.

Ashley has had a variety of experiences from the food industry, to sports nutrition, to inpatient care. Prior to joining the Performance team, she spent 5 years in the Chicago area specializing in weight management, and medical nutrition therapy for chronic diseases.

In her free time, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters, as well as running, cooking, and traveling.

Seth D

Performance Fitness Member

Under the guidance of trainers, I have been able to decrease my 5K time from 28 minutes to under 20 minutes in just 2 years.  I have also lost 30 pounds while increasing strength, endurance and power.*

About Ashley Pearson, Registered Dietitian

Ashley Pearson, Registered DietitianAshley has been passionate about nutrition and physical activity since high school, where she developed her love for running and nutrition. Ashley has completed multiple marathons, and other road races, and understands how to properly fuel the body before, during, and after a workout, race, or game to maximize performance.

Ashley has had a variety of experiences from the food industry, to sports nutrition, to inpatient care. Prior to joining the Performance team, she spent 5 years in the Chicago area specializing in weight management, and medical nutrition therapy for chronic diseases.

In her free time, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters, as well as running, cooking, and traveling.

Connie R

Training over the last few years at Performance has been the best health decision I have ever made.  Leslie, my current trainer, keeps me on track to stay fit and strong, makes our sessions interesting and challenging, and is always positive, even when I have setbacks.*

About Ashley Pearson, Registered Dietitian

Ashley Pearson, Registered DietitianAshley has been passionate about nutrition and physical activity since high school, where she developed her love for running and nutrition. Ashley has completed multiple marathons, and other road races, and understands how to properly fuel the body before, during, and after a workout, race, or game to maximize performance.

Ashley has had a variety of experiences from the food industry, to sports nutrition, to inpatient care. Prior to joining the Performance team, she spent 5 years in the Chicago area specializing in weight management, and medical nutrition therapy for chronic diseases.

In her free time, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters, as well as running, cooking, and traveling.

Barry C Testimonial
Barry C

Performance Fitness Member

“I am a competitive cyclist and have been in personal training at Performance for 6 years. The best part about the trainers is that they know our medical histories very well.  Leslie is great at modifying a training session specifically to each individual person’s limitations so as to avoid injury.”*

About Ashley Pearson, Registered Dietitian

Ashley Pearson, Registered DietitianAshley has been passionate about nutrition and physical activity since high school, where she developed her love for running and nutrition. Ashley has completed multiple marathons, and other road races, and understands how to properly fuel the body before, during, and after a workout, race, or game to maximize performance.

Ashley has had a variety of experiences from the food industry, to sports nutrition, to inpatient care. Prior to joining the Performance team, she spent 5 years in the Chicago area specializing in weight management, and medical nutrition therapy for chronic diseases.

In her free time, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters, as well as running, cooking, and traveling.

Pat S

Performance Fitness Member

“I’m retired and enjoy a full, active life. This is due, in no small part, to the time I spend at Performance. The group classes provide a great workout and lots of variety. Plus, a fun way to meet new friends!”*

About Ashley Pearson, Registered Dietitian

Ashley Pearson, Registered DietitianAshley has been passionate about nutrition and physical activity since high school, where she developed her love for running and nutrition. Ashley has completed multiple marathons, and other road races, and understands how to properly fuel the body before, during, and after a workout, race, or game to maximize performance.

Ashley has had a variety of experiences from the food industry, to sports nutrition, to inpatient care. Prior to joining the Performance team, she spent 5 years in the Chicago area specializing in weight management, and medical nutrition therapy for chronic diseases.

In her free time, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters, as well as running, cooking, and traveling.

*Results may vary