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The role of fat in your diet

As a Personal Trainer I am often asked about various diets and the role that fat plays in them. People assume that as I work in fitness as a Personal Trainer that I don't consume fat, however, nothing could be further from the truth. We all need fat in our diet in order to function properly. This week I'll discuss the role of fat and what things to look out for, as well as avoid.

Fat is often labelled as the bad guy when it comes to diet. Endless products stating they are 'fat free' and 'low fat' are forever looking to grab consumers attention.

The trick is that they do it because we, as consumers, are educated to think this way. Fat free yoghurts are the prime example of where people are going wrong as it is their sugar content that does the damage. One on its own doesn't do much damage and can sometimes even contribute to your fruit intake, like some fruit based yoghurts. However, the 'fat free' leads to people thinking they are guilt free if they have 2, 3, or even more in one go.

The key thing here is to embrace the good side of fats in the diet and not get put off by the corporate marketing hate campaign against it. Fat is essential in your diet and you require around 30% of your diet to be made up of healthy fats if you want to have a balanced, healthy diet. Fat free diets will cause you harm in the long run so avoid them altogether!

The main function of fat in the diet is to provide the body with energy. Without fat in the diet protein will not be used for it's main purpose of repair and rebuilding muscle tissue. Protein will instead be used as an energy source and in turn take vital recuperation from the muscles you have exercised.

Fat also helps with the really complex parts of cell production and maintanence. Fats help form the structure and body of the outer casing of cells which are vital to everyday life.

Fat as an energy source is very high in energy levels, providing almost double the level of energy compared to carbs. However, like with everything fats need to be consumed as part of a balanced diet. There are 4 main categories for fats, 2 that are good for you and 2 that are not so good or seen as 'bad'.

The good fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. These include fish, nuts, olive oil, seeds, olives and avocados to name a few. These help provide you with good energy and will help battle cholesterol and heart disease. They will also promote a healthy balanced diet.

The bad fats are saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are better than trans fats. You will consume saturated fat through red meat, chicken with the skin on, butter, cheese, and milk to name a few, however, these are all ok in moderation. Saturated fat is not a risk if it is part of a balanced diet and consumed alongside more of the 'good fats' listed above to help counteract the effect of the saturated fats. Trans fats however, can be avoided altogether! These include pastries, crisps, pizzas, fast food and any fried food. You can live without trans fats, even though they are the 'cheat' foods of many people who apparently can't do without their takeaway every week. Instead of eating pastries; have fruit, instead of eating fried fast food or takeaways; make your own meals from fresh produce and meat at home without frying them.

Fat is broken down and used over a longer period as an energy source, compared to carbs, and is also vital for bodily functions. This includes regulating fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. As fat takes much longer to break down into fatty acids and glycerol, it gives you the feeling of being full for much longer. Sugars on the other hand give you a sickly feeling (as the body cannot convert all the fast releasing energy) and in turn store this excess energy.

So fat is not the enemy, but it can be if you eat the wrong type of fat. Always ensure you are eating as part of a healthy balanced diet and partaking in regular exercise and you will see the health benefits.

Do you live in Torquay and need a Personal Trainer? If you have any questions or would like advice on your fat intake or diet plan then please do not hesitate to get in touch at

Thanks for reading,

Craig Washington, Personal Trainer

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