Fats are Essential
Fat is one of those essential macronutrients. More specifically, we are talking about essential fatty acids (EFAs). When your body doesn’t get in enough of the nutrients it needs, it will send out hunger signals to tell you to eat until it does get them. Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the body, so they need to be consumed through your diet.
Omega-3 and omega-6 are the two essential fatty acids we must ingest because the body cannot synthesize them. Most of us get in enough of the omega-6 fatty acids, but are lacking with the omega-3s. Good sources of EFAs include seeds, nuts, and fish. I like to supplement with fish oil to get my EFAs. Essential fatty acids might be the only essential fats, but saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats play a large role in the body too.
Fats Slow Down Digestion
Another reason you need to eat fat to lose fat is because fat slows down the digestion of food. Why is this beneficial? When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose and sent into the bloodstream. When this happens, insulin comes in and shuttles that glucose to muscle tissues (or fat if glycogen stores are full). If too much glucose is in the bloodstream at one time, insulin is released in greater amounts – preventing the release of fatty acids.
Fat cannot be released when insulin levels are high. How does fat help? It slows down the digestion of your meal, and causes a nice steady release of glucose into the bloodstream. By doing this, insulin levels stay muted, and fat can be mobilized. By adding some fat to your meal, you slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates, and increase your fat burning potential.
Assimilation of Fat Soluble Vitamins
Certain vitamins can only be digested and transported with the help of fats. These fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. They are responsible for many body functions, including:
- Healthy skin and hair
- The assimilation of calcium
- Blood clotting
If you limit your fat intake, you’re limiting your ability to transport and absorb these fat soluble vitamins. While not directly responsible for fat loss, fat soluble vitamins work in harmony with other vitamins and nutrients to produce hormones and keep the nervous system functioning optimally – which are responsible for fat loss.
Fat Boosts Testosterone
Testosterone is one of the most powerful muscle building hormones for both men and women. Both sexes need this hormone for optimal body function. Dietary fat intake has been shown to influence testosterone levels. You can boost testosterone levels by ingesting between 20-30% of your calories from fat. Not just any fat though. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are the two that have been shown to increase testosterone levels.
Believe it or not, saturated fat is not the killer it’s made out to be. Trans fats are the fats you should be avoiding. Saturated fat plays an important role in many body functions. They are important for maintaining the structure of our cells, and for boosting our immune system. They are precursors to many hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
Since testosterone is a major muscle building hormone, and having extra muscle boosts your metabolism, it doesn’t take much to make an argument to eat sufficient amounts of fat in your diet. Fat –> boosts hormones –> that help build muscle –> which boosts your metabolism and burns more fat.
Eating Fat Helps You Lose Fat
To many people, this may seem counter-intuitive. If you’re trying to lose fat, why would you want to eat it? The answer is simple actually. By showing your body that it is getting a consistent source of external fat from your diet, it will be more willing to let go of the fat it is currently holding (calories in = calories out still holds true of course).
Fat is energy. Your body does not want to give up this valuable fuel source. We may think that fat is a nuisance, but your body thinks otherwise. It loves fat. Providing 9 calories per gram, fat provides a dense source of energy for your body.
The downside? Fat has 9 calories per gram, and is a dense source of energy for your body. Great for your body, but bad for you when you want to get rid of it. By not severely limiting your fat intake, you signal to your body that there is no famine or lack of available energy in the near future, and that it is OK to shed some of the energy reserves it currently holds.
Now that you know you how important healthy fats are for fat loss, don’t be one of those people who takes everything to the extreme. Everything in moderation. The point of this article is to show you that your fears of fat are unfounded. Fat is healthy. Fat is good. Don’t be afraid of eating too much fat – be afraid of eating too many calories.