“RELEASE THE (GOOD) FATS!! WE’VE GOT THE WRONG GUYS!!” – Tips on How to Use Fat to Fight Fat by kaizzad under Fitness Education, Myths For decades, fats have been regarded as the enemy of all health and nutrition. We blame it for its high calorific value and associate the word ‘fat’ with all that’s unwanted and ugly.
So deeply instilled is our fat phobia that the mere sight of an obese individual conjures up images of him or her binging on loads and loads of junk at a popular fast food joint when all that that unsuspecting individual must be doing is eating some meager amounts of food in a desperate uninformed attempt to lose weight.
Lo and behold, we’ve got a nation rampant with fat hysteria! Wherever you look, there are ‘zero-oil recipes’ and ‘low-fat health foods’ springing up.
Everybody around you, including the person you see in the mirror, is still ballooning up no matter how many health foods you choose or ‘zero-oil recipes’ you cook!!
In fact the United States, which first set the guidelines for restricting fat consumption and developed a food pyramid with cereals at the base and fats at the peak, suddenly woke up to find a nation full of people with obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and the like – much more than before!
Unfortunately, this is the one statistic in which India was never far behind and has now overtaken it: we can now proudly boast of the highest diabetic population in the world!!
WHERE ARE WE GOING WRONG??
What path did the US go along that we’ve actually been treading for years?
The High-carb path! That takes you along the ups and downs of insulin levels till your cells stop responding to insulin and all your carbs tend to get stored as body fat.
What does that mean?
WE’VE GOT THE WRONG GUYS!!!
It’s not the Fats but the flood of Carbs in our body that’s our main culprit in all metabolic disorders.
HEY WAIT A MINUTE!! Are you happily reaching out for that burger or your favorite fried food? And planning to wave this article as your long-awaited ticket to gorge on fats?
Hold It Right There!
Yes, we need to release our imprisoned hero FAT but we need to specifically release the ‘GOOD’ fats to benefit our body while STRICTLY reining in the ‘bad’ or saturated fats that could increase fat storage and increase health risk.
Surprised that fats can actually benefit your body??
From childhood, we’re taught that fats are bad for health and only act as excess baggage that slows you down.
It’s time to ONCE AND FOR ALL distinguish between dietary fat and body fat. Excess body fat is definitely excess baggage.
But little do we realize HOW MUCH our body actually needs GOOD QUALITY fats to work and function faster and better!
Fat Quality can be very simply understood:
Ever noticed that if you stuff a loose flexible cloth bag till it’s completely full, it loses its flexibility and becomes hard? Just apply that thinking to a long fatty acid carbon chain. When it’s completely full with hydrogen or ‘saturated’, it loses its flexible structure and is very hard and solid. But unsaturated fats contain less hydrogen and are easily flexible and fluid.
The value of the fat is in its fluidity!
Fats are not just those stored under the skin; they are present in all body cells as an integral part of the outer wall surrounding the cell (called ‘cell membrane’). For each cell to work well, it has to communicate well with the body’s environment: to transport nutrients into the cell and wastes out of the cell; and be sensitive to all signals sent by the body’s regulatory hormones.
So for each cell to work efficiently, it needs a flexible cell membrane!
We are what we eat: Only a fluid fat can build a flexible cell membrane!
Saturated fats, i.e. solid fats such as milk fats, animal fats or coconut, tend to harden the walls around the cell like ‘cementing’ it and the cell gets imprisoned within itself.
Without a healthy membrane, the cell loses its ability to hold water and nutrients. It can no longer communicate or carry out its normal function. This is the beginning of cell injury and cell death.
It also loses its ability to respond to hormones that regulate metabolism such as insulin, leading to insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular complications. But unsaturated fluid fats, i.e. from liquid vegetable oils, keep our cells flexible and sensitive and working optimally.
BUT HEY HOLD ON! Don’t run out and buy the first oil you see!
Liquid vegetable oils have three types of unsaturated fats: Mono-unsaturated (MUFA), omega-6 poly-unsaturated (PUFA) and omega-3 PUFA; each with a different structure and extent of fluidity.
Each cell membrane should have a balance between the three.
But the common vegetable oils that you reach out for on supermarket shelves: sunflower, safflower, corn oil are all just flooding you with omega-6 which is rushing in even through the rest of your diet.
And before we’ve even finished congratulating ourselves on our health-consciousness and our great will-power in restricting carbs and saturated fats, we’ve got ‘high blood glucose’ and ‘Cholesterol’ screaming out from our blood report!
It is clear now that our health and fitness is at the mercy of our dietary fats, especially the omega-3 fats which are most elusive in our diet.
Increasing the omega-3 fats and MUFA along with cutting down the omega-6 and saturated fats (which are in abundance) is a MUST to shift the diet into a powerful fitness gear.
There’s a BIG catch to increased omega-3-omega-6 PUFA consumption. Our heroes have an Achilles heel: being highly unsaturated, they are very vulnerable to oxidation.
On oxidation, the Dr. Jekyll PUFA turns to a toxic Mr. Hyde and can lead to rapid cell destruction. They need strong antioxidant protection from the powerful fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E, along with vitamin C and selenium.
MUFA such as from olive oil (and also groundnut oil) are more stable, keeping cells stronger and preventing oxidation of LDL cholesterol. They thus lower the ‘bad’ cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease.
Now the BIG question (for which you’ve read so far and will probably throttle me if I don’t tell you now!): HOW CAN A FAT HELP ME LOSE FAT?
The secret lies in the effect that Omega-3 fats have on our body:
Omega-6 and omega-3 fats are converted in the body to hormone-like substances called prostaglandins that have opposite effects on key functions: blood clotting, heart rate, blood pressure, immune system, nerve impulses and healthy cell membranes and cell function – just to name a few.
Only the correct omega-6 to omega-3 ratio can make our body into an efficient muscle growing-fat burning metabolic machine!
Sound like Latin and Greek? Let me explain how omega-3 fats actually ACTIVATE our body:
· Increase Insulin Sensitivity:
An omega-3 fat-composed cell membrane is more flexible with highly responsive insulin receptors. So, cells efficiently take up glucose and amino acids, which increases muscle growth and ensures glucose utilization as a muscle fuel rather than for fat storage.
Omega-3 fats also stabilize insulin levels by slowing digestion and carbohydrate absorption, which also suppresses appetite.
· Increase Metabolism
They help hemoglobin production and increase oxygen supply to the working muscles and for fat oxidation.
· Aid Fat Mobilization
Omega-3 fats are a MUST in the ‘adipocyte’ (fat cell) cell membrane for efficient release of stored fat from adipose tissue.
Increase Energy Levels They increase energy production and metabolism in cells, acting as a reliable source of energy without increasing body fat storage.
· Thermogenic Effect
Intake of omega-3 fats comes with a high cost of energy expenditure. They stimulate metabolism and greater fat burn for 1-3 hours after consumption.
Aid Muscle Recovery As natural anti-inflammatory agents, they help in faster muscle recovery after strenuous workouts, enhancing workout performance and results.
Optimal production of hormones such as insulin, thyroxine and anabolic sex hormone: testosterone in males that boost metabolism and muscle growth Omega-3 fats are also a boon in disease prevention and management:
Improving insulin action in diabetes; reducing blood pressure, clotting and cholesterol for cardiovascular health; treating inflammatory conditions: rheumatoid arthritis, asthma; and depression or neurological disorders: multiple sclerosis; and in fluid balance and reducing water retention.
Ladies please note (and men also!): They also help in developing soft, smooth and velvety skin.
SO OUR HEROES HAVE FINALLY EMERGED! OMEGA-3 FATS
Ride with them on a fast trip to your dream goal…
Minimize intake of saturated fats from coconut, milk and animal fats. Restrict omega-6 fats from common cooking oils: safflower and sunflower. Increase MUFA by switching to high-MUFA olive oil; or to moderate-MUFA groundnut or rice-bran oil. Deliberately increase omega-3 fats by adding or supplementing flaxseed or fish oils. Mustard or soyabean oil also contribute limited omega-3 fats. FAT FACTS
1. Optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 4:1 or 3:1.
2. Alpha-linolenic acid is the essential omega-3 fat, converted to other omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA) in the body.
3. Omega-3 Supplement Choices:
Flaxseed: 1-2 tablespoons (or 15 gm powder) per day Fish oil: 400-1000 mg ready EPA-DHA per day 4. Flaxseed may be a better choice:
It supplies double quantity of omega-3 fats than fish Flaxseed lignans help relieve menopausal hot flushes and have anticancer activity.
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