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Physiology Fundamentals: Back To Basics.

All about MACROS (macronutrients). Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates. Part 3.

Check out Part 1 | Part 2 & | Part 4 of this Series!

Dietary Fats not only perform as the most efficient energy source but also serve several metabolic functions, acting as an intermediary between cells and tissues. More and more research is finding out how beneficial polysaturated fats are. i would go on and say that if you're not bulking then you may substitue crabs with healthy fats for fillling the intake calorie quota. What i mean by healthy fat will be cleared shortly.

It can get quite confusing so pay close attention. i'll spare you the boring chemistry in this article and talk about real life application of whatever you’ve learned in this series yet. Almost every fat sources we consume are mixtures of saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature while unsaturated ones remain in a liquid state. Edibles containing a high proportion of saturated fat include animal fat products such as cream, cheese, butter, and fatty cut of meats.
picture of animal derived saturated fats

Saturated fats used to get a lot of heat from press, but now they're considered neutral to health if used sensibly. That goes beyond saying, right? Moderation is the key with everything. One study in cyclists found that, as long as they were in caloric balance, an increase intake of saturated fats had no impact on blood cholesterol one way or the other.
It should be noted that research suggests saturated fat is required for optimal hormone levels so trying to reduce saturated fat excessively may be a mistake for athletes in the first place. Plus the best nutrition for our bodies is meat cooked in it's own fat. GO primal/Paleo/caveman! They got this right.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that our livers produce more cholestrol than we eat on a daily basis, so the only caveat against saturated fat diet gurus have is not applicable on a sensible diet. The changes that typically occur in blood cholesterol levels with changing saturated fat intake tend to occur in both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol fractions. Hence the neutral-to-health status.

Coming to unsaturated fats, poly-unsaturated fats are the poster kids of health with glowing recommendations all around, and mono-unsaturated fats aren't far behind either most consider them neutral to slightly beneficial. They lower LDL (the bad cholesterol). All unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperatures and semi-solid on refrigration. You might like the fact that “The Mediterranean Diet” is heavily influenced by monounsaturated fats. Massive consumption of olive oil. Yes, please.

People in Mediterranean countries consume more total fat than Northern European countries, but most of the fat is in the form of monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil, while consumption of saturated fat is minimal in comparison. The diet in Crete is fairly high in total fat (40% of total calories, almost exclusively provided by olive oil) yet affords a remarkable protection from coronary heart disease (and probably colon cancer).
picture showing prime sources of monosaturated fats Since most sources which contain saturated fat like meat, whole milk products, and eggs also contain almost equal amounts of monounsaturated fats they're win-win. Hope you’re convinced enough to ditch the fancy supermarket “low-fat/lean cut” meat. Nuts and high fat fruits such as olives and avocados are prime sources of monounsaturated fats as well. Olive oil is about 75% monounsaturated fat.

Here comes the healthiest kind of Fat: Poly-unsaturated. The two primary kinds are alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) which is an omega-3 fatty acid and linoleic acid (LA) which is an omega-6 fatty acid, also known as essential fats they must be obtained from the diet for optimal health. A long enough deficiency of either ALA or LA would eventually cause a host of health problems and death. It’s worth mentioning that it unless you’re on a zero fat diet it’s almost impossible to generate a true ALA or LA deficiency; even the worst diet will tend to cover bare minimum requirements of both.

ALA and LA serve as parent compounds for various chemical connotations our bodies whip up. LA gets converted to anti-inflammatory compounds while ALA undergoes extensive metabolism and can be converted to EPA and DHA (the fish oil capsules have oodles of EPA & DHA). Things get messy when you consider than ALA and LA often have kind of opposing effects; in general, the effects of the w-3 fatty(ALA) acids tend to be ‘good’ and the effects of w-6 are ‘bad’.

New age researchers and doctors are getting their panties in a knot over the skewed ratio of omega 3 : omega 6 in modern diets. Their concern is legitimate, our evolutionary diet had way better w3: w6 ratio. 1: 1 - 4: 1 vs nowadays it’s like 25-30:1. Literally thousands of studies have shown the benefits of increased w-3 intake on various health parameters like Decreased inflammation, Improved blood lipid levels (including decreased triglyceride levels), decreased risk of heart disease, decreased depression, better concentration, improved memory and even fat loss have all been found from w-3 supplementation. No wonder fish oil capsules are consumed religiously by athletes.

Both EPA and DHA are found in large amounts in fatty fish and free range animals often have a larger proportion of w-3 fatty acids as well(hence better chances of conversion into EPA & DHA). Another reason to ditch factory meat. Not all of the ALA is converted completely into EPA & DHA and whether ALA independently has any health benefits is up for debate. EPA & DHA are the elixir for now. So, if you’re one of the Inuit guys subsiding on fatty fish or someone hunting free range animals daily then you’re in the clear; for everyone else living a “modern” life, supplemental fish oil capsules are the best bet. Bare minimum would be a combined intake 500mg of EPA/DHA in a day. 2-3 fish oil caps a day would fill that quota.

I was saving the unhealthiest one for the last. The dreaded TRANS FATS. These are the unnatural man-synthesized fats cheap in every sense of term. They’re difficult to detect once used in cooking, hence doesn’t seem to bother common public whatsoever. Hydrogenation (the process of making Trans fats) increases product shelf life and decreases refrigeration requirements. Most bakery delicacies require semi-solid fats to hold the integrity of "delicacies" at room temperature. trans fats have the right consistency to replace animal fats such as butter and lard at a lower cost. These partially hydrogenated fats have displaced natural solid fats and liquid oils in many areas, the most notable ones being in the fast food, snack food, fried food, and baked goods industries.

Quote from a recent research paper: "FA [trans-fatty acid] consumption causes metabolic dysfunction: it adversely affects circulating lipid levels, triggers systemic inflammation, induces endothelial dysfunction, and insulin resistance…Consistent with these adverse physiological effects, consumption of even small amounts of TFAs (2% of total energy intake) is consistently associated with a markedly increased incidence of coronary heart disease."
Classic case of economic greed killing everyone insidiously.
so yeah, avoid fast-food joints, prepare your own meals! How original…but I also provided impeccable reasoning to go along with the generic advice here. It’s getting too long I suppose. Meet me in the next part where I’ll sum it all up with a satisfying conclusion and recommendations.
Check out Part 1 | Part 2 & | Part 4 of this Series!

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