For decades, the media has been preaching how fats are associated with obesity, cancer, arteriosclerosis, and heart disease. Back in the late 1980′s, the U.S. Surgeon General recommended that Americans decrease their consumption of dietary fats. Marketing savvy food manufacturers immediately started coming out with everything from fat free ice cream to fat free cheese. In place of fat, more carbohydrates were added.
With all of the “fat free” marketing, the general public believed that since something was “fat free”, they could eat larger portions. Over the next ten years, Americans became fatter than ever! Obesity skyrocketed from 12% of the population to over 20% of the population in just 10 years. Today, research has found that 50% of Americans are overweight and approximately 23% are obese. With the help of the food industry, the public has developed a “fat phobia” and the importance of including healthy fats in our diets has been neglected.
If your goal is to build a stronger, leaner, more muscular body, dietary fats are necessary to maintain and improve your health, and play an essential role in reaching your fitness goals.
There are two types of fats, saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are considered healthy fats, they are usually liquid at room temperature. Although there are many sources of unsaturated fat, two great sources of healthy unsaturated fat can be found in cold water fish like salmon, trout and halibut, and flax seed oil.
Saturated fats are the unhealthy fats that are associated with a myriad of health problems. They contain virtually nothing nutritious or good for your body, it’s only role is it can be burned as energy. The fact is, you don’t need saturated fats at all, but the typical diet is jam-packed with them. For health reasons, you want to consume as little saturated fats as possible. Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature and can be found in butter, margarine, dairy, cheese, and meats. I am not recommending you become a vegetarian and eliminate meat from your diet, but make sure when you are at the meat counter you select lean cuts. You do not have to eat meat every day. There are many other good non-animal sources of protein including beans, soy, and tofu.
The truth is, some fats are health promoting and essential to life itself. I recently read a great book by Dr. Udos Erasmus, one of the world’s foremost experts on dietary fats. I highly recommend you read his best selling book “Fats That Heal, Fat’s That Kill.” Dr. Erasmus believes that eating enough healthy fats is just as important to maintaining health as eliminating unhealthy fats.