IS FAT GOOD FOR ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE?
Eating the right types and amount of fat will make you fitter instead of fatter. Fat is a great source of energy that your muscles uses for fuel.
We still do not know the exact amount of fat an athlete should be eating but most experts agree that you should...
- limit saturated fat to less than 10% of daily calorie intake (limiting intake to less than 6% would be even better!)
- eat a diet where 20-25% of your daily calorie intake is made up of fats, mainly coming from unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (read below to learn more about these healthy fats).
Example: A person on a 2500 kcal diet should be eating around 60 g of fat per day
- ideally less than 15 g can come from saturated fats
- the rest of the 45 g should come from unsaturated fat such as 3 tsp of walnut oil for cooking, 1/2 avocado, and 3 tbsp of nuts (click here to see more options for healthy fats)
BUT, the amount of fat you eat changes according to your level of activity. The more active you are, the more fuel from fat you need! Start with the general recommendations in the food guide and you can increase the amount of fat you eat without affecting your performance. Make sure not to eat too much fat right before a sport because it digests slowly and will not give you the quick burst of energy you need.
What Is A Quality Fat?
The key to a healthier you is not to completely eliminate fats from your meals but to choose the right type of fats—the high quality fats!
WHAT ARE HEALTHY FATS?
A quality fat is a fat that is made up of healthy fats, which are linked to many beneficial health effects.
- Monounsaturated Fats
- Polyunsaturated Fats
- Especially Omega-3 fats!
It is important to include these healthy fats in your diet. Look for polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are the super fats! They are great for your health and have the potential to lower your risk of inflammation and diseases such as cardiovascular disease (click here for the proof). These fats are immunity builders because of the positive role they have on your health.
For a list of foods that are immunity builders, click here.
WHICH FATS SHOULD I AVOID?
- Saturated Fats
- Trans Fats
Saturated and trans fats are the bad fats that you should steer clear from! They are mainly found in processed foods and red meat. Eating too much of these bad fats can increase your risk of inflammation, high cholesterol, and having a heart attack (click here for the proof).
A new thing to look out for are fats that may contain environmental toxins, such as mercury in large fatty fish and pesticides in oils.
- Choose small fatty fish such as mackerel and sardines instead of large fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.
- Cold-pressed oils are have higher antioxidant levels than refined oils but are also more concentrated in pesticides. Choose organic cold pressed oils to get a high quality fat with no pesticides.
For a quick guide on healthy oils to use for cooking, click here.
WHICH FATS ARE RICH IN NUTRIENTS?
When choosing high-quality fatty foods to include into your diet, add foods that are high in omega-3 fats and low in bad fats but are also rich in other nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and fiber.
VEGETABLES AND LEGUMES
Edamame, kidney and black beans, and butternut squash
These foods are high in protein, fiber, and vitamins.
Mackerel and sardines
These fishes also are high in protein and vitamins
NUTS AND SEEDS
Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts
These are also good sources of protein, vitamins, and fiber.
HOW CAN I KEEP FAT FRESH?
It is important to make sure your fatty foods stay fresh in order to preserve the nutrients and antioxidant content in the food. If you are using fat or oil to cook with, make sure to cook at temperatures below the smoke point to keep fats from smoking and becoming rancid. Keep oils and fats stored in a cold and dark area and in containers sealed tight to prevent air from getting in. This will keep the fat from spoiling and losing quality.