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Fitness & Health

19th Jun 2018

Everything you need to know about fat

Does eating fat make you fat? How much should you eat? A nutritionist has the answers

Alex Roberts

When it comes to fatty foods, there is an array of conflicting information clouding the facts

How much should you eat? What are the best kinds? Do they directly cause obesity?

To provide you with the full picture, JOE spoke to Amine Ould-Laib. Amine is a registered nutritionist with Spoon Guru, a food search and discovery engine.

Does eating fat make you gain weight?

“It is a commonly held notion that eating fat makes us fat. Fat does contain more than double the calories (9 per gram) than carbohydrates or protein (both 4 calories per gram).

“This makes fat much easier to overconsume, and so could contribute to weight gain if not kept in check.

“Fat from the right sources provides essential fatty acids such as omega 3 & 6, and acts as a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E & K. Therefore, we should make sure we do consume the right sources of fat and not overindulge.”

What are the different kinds of fat – and which is best?

“There are three kinds: saturated, unsaturated & polyunsaturated, with the latter being the healthiest.

“Whilst all are essential to include in your diet for normal bodily function, the ratio of each that you consume that has the greatest effect on health.

“According to the latest UK diet survey we are consuming too much saturated fat and not enough omega-3 fatty acids.

“Omega 3 fatty acids are seen as the holy grail, and have many health benefits such as removing fat deposits from blood and improving blood pressure. The latter has been linked to lower risk of heart disease.”

How much fat should you eat each day?

According to the NHS, the daily reference intake for fat is less than 70g for the average adult on a 2000 calorie per day diet.

“This should come from a variety of sources and you should aim for unsaturated and polyunsaturated kinds in plants and fish, where possible.”

How should you structure fat intake around training?

“Fat has the effect of slowing down digestion and contributes to satiety (feelings of fullness).

“Eating this directly before your workout is not ideal, since it will sit in your stomach, not great for a heavy squat session.

“If you do consume a meal containing fat before training, then it should be at least 2-3 hours beforehand in order to be adequately digested, and also to power your workout.”

The situation is quite similar post-workout.

“Your first post-workout meal should address the needs of your body; replenishing energy stores and kick-starting muscle recovery.

“This shouldn’t include fats as they would slow down the digestion of your meal and the overall recovery process. After your immediate post-workout nutrition, your next meal should contain around 30% of calories coming from fats for general recovery.”

What specific foods are particularly good sources of fat?

“Since you need to focus on unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, opt for oily fish such as mackerel & salmon, nuts such as walnut, macadamia or almonds, plus avocados and eggs.

“Many people, myself included, may find the taste of fish disagreeable and so prefer an omega-3 fish oil supplement in the form of a liquid or capsule.

“It is also found in other food sources such as kale. The NHS recommends we consume fish twice a week, with one serving being oily fish.”