Best Foods For Healthy Fat Intake [EXPERT GUIDE]
When it comes to health and fitness everyone is concerned with how many carbs they are eating – and for good reason. Yet, to a certain extent, if you do not have your fat intake in check it really doesn’t matter if you count your calories or carbs.
Fat is a very rich food source that is high in calories and difficult for your body to use as a source of energy. With that said, it is still essential in your diet (like all other macronutrients), but it is important to understand that you should consume it in moderation.
The Issue With A High Fat Diet
We know that all sources of fuel are important. You should never strip your body of a particular nutrient just because you believe it to be non-essential. Whenever you are looking at carbs, protein or fats it is important to remember that they are all completely necessary for success.
The issue with fat lies in its caloric amount. Fat has more than 2x the calories of both carbs and protein – making it one of the easiest sources of calories to overeat on. Fat also comes in many forms, and while some forms like unsaturated fats are great for you, other sources of fat like trans fats and saturated fats have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and even cancer – as they are linked to cholesterol.
A Rationale for Fat Intake
We are not here to say that you should not eat fat. Like we said, all nutrients are important in your diet – but it is important to understand moderation.
Whenever we look at a rationale for fat intake we always need to look at hormonal balances. Fat, above all other sources of dietary intake, has a clear correlation to hormonal balance in the body. For example, if you were to eat a diet very high in fat you may notice that your testosterone levels lower – especially when some of that fat begins to be stored as adipose tissue(body fat).
On the other hand – a very moderate intake of fat (around 15-25% of daily calories) has been shown to help improve hormone balance and be a critical component of a healthy diet.
In this case, you should do your best to consume around 300-500 calories a day from fat sources rich in polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Here are some of the best sources of fat you can intake on a daily basis for optimal health:
You know we couldn’t leave this one off the list. Not only are avocados extremely tasty, but they also seem to be one of the most healthy sources of fat. Although they do contain some saturated fats, it is only about 15% of their calories. Most of the calories you will consume in an avocado will come from polyunsaturated fats which are great for providing the body with energy to fuel your day.
A personal favourite and a long-term friend in the world of strength training. Not only do these nuts have a very good fat profile but they also have the unique benefit of cleaning out the arteries and allowing for better blood flow.
Likely the result of plenty of HDL cholesterol found in the nuts, pistachios will help to recycle cholesterol in the body and lead to optimal results in your health, fitness and strength. A handful a day may just keep the doctor away.
Over the years flax has gotten praise and been downgraded, but when you look at the actual nutrient profile, this seed is actually very healthy for you.
Not only do flax seeds contain a very good amount of healthy fats, but it is also rich in omega fatty acids – which have been shown to be very good for heart health and brain health. Your best bet is to grind up a handful of these every day and sprinkle it onto your favourite foods.
These guys are very similar to flax seeds but they are much more protein-rich and seem to have a lower omega count. Chia seeds have been notoriously used by the eastern world to help prepare hunters for battle as their high caloric content and easy digestion is perfect for athletes and strength trainers alike. Consume a handful of these a day and watch your body grow stronger and healthier.
Salmon and Other Fatty Fish
Salmon is one of the most well respected freshwater fish in the world. Although this stuff might cost you a pretty penny you should be aware that the content of fat and protein found in this fish are nearly unrivalled in the world of health and nutrition.
Salmon should be on anyone’s radar if they are looking for healthy sources of fat.
I generally try to stay away from processed sources of nutrients, but when it comes to olive oil you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Although it is slightly more expensive than canola or other vegetable oils, olive oil has a much more complete spectrum of healthy fats and has even been shown to help lower the onset of heart disease and other chronic illness’.
This is perhaps the most commonly used product in the health world and the most debated. The issue with coconuts is their high source of saturated fats – in fact, about 90% of the fat found in coconuts is from saturated sources. Interestingly enough, studies show that populations that eat high amounts of saturated fats from coconuts do not have higher onsets of illness or other health indications. This does urge the question of different sources of saturated fats – but we’re not going to get into that in this article.
Coconuts seem to be a good source of dietary fat that does not carry negative health implications for populations that are accustomed to using this product in excess.
How Much Should You Consume?
This is the biggest question that we all want the answer to. The simple answer is, unfortunately, quite complex. Fat content and the intake of macronutrients will really depend on the person. Personally, I like to use the equator rule whenever I am looking to decide how much macros to consume.
The equator rule hypothesizes that the closer your blood-lines fall to the equator the higher your intake of carbohydrates should be.
For example, those who are in Caribbean countries, Mediterranean and some eastern countries – the better your body will be at metabolizing carbs – therefore the higher your carb content should be and the lower your fat intake.
Conversely, the further you are away from the equator the higher your fat intake should be and the lower your carb intake. Those from Scandinavian countries may benefit more from a high-fat diet than those who come from countries closer to the equator.
This might seem a little complex, and if you are not interested in doing the research your best bet will be to keep your calories at a simple 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat split. For most people, this will be a well-balanced diet with great moderation.