Tara Gidus Collingwood & Trish Kellogg | January 2, 2018
In order to properly function, our bodies require a balance of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each is essential in our daily diets and work together to keep us healthy and performing at our best. Here we’ll explore fat.
Why Is Fat Important?
Unlike carbohydrates and protein, which provide 4 calories per gram, fat provides 9 calories per gram, making it a long-lasting energy source that leaves you feeling satisfied. Fat is also critical in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, regulation of hormones, functioning of the brain, and conduction of nerve signals.
How Much Do I Need?
Anywhere from 15-35% of your daily calories will come from fat with variability depending on an athlete’s goals, sport, and activity level. It’s important to note that since carbohydrates and protein are critical to athletic performance, fat is the easiest nutrient to manipulate to reach calorie goals. ADVERTISEMENT On average, daily fat intake will be around 1.0 gram per kilogram body weight (or 0.45 grams per pound body weight).
What Are The Sources?
There are three types of fat in the diet: unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.
Unsaturated fats should be your greatest source. These fats may help lower cholesterol and some provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to the diet.
Sources: nuts, nut butters, seeds, avocado, olive oil, fatty fish
Saturated fats (i.e., animal fats) should be minimized, but not eliminated. These fats have been linked to higher rates of cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
Sources: lean meats, 2% or reduced fat dairy products, butter
Trans fats should be eliminated from the diet, as they are harmful to health. These fats promote an increase in LDL cholesterol and a decrease in HDL cholesterol.
Sources: fried foods, stick margarine, baked goods, regular peanut butter
Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness and health promotion. She is currently the nutrition consultant to the USTA National Campus with Andrews Institute and Nemours, the team dietitian for the Orlando Magic NBA team, the nutrition consultant to University of Central Florida Athletic Department and a nutrition and exercise executive coach at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute.