Fat – one hell of a fuel source

Fat – one hell of a fuel source

Fat got a bad wrap for many years, but it is the body’s best long term fuel source. On this episode of 32Gi Sports Nutrition we dissect fat. Fat has many benefits, especially when it comes to fuelling for athletes. But you need to know which are the best options, and what to stay away from.



DK: You with us on 32Gi Sports Nutrition I’m David Katz, Mr Active joined once again by Mark Wolff. We’ve covered in previous podcasts; we’ve looked at protein and how you take it in as an athlete, we’ve looked at carbohydrates the pros and the cons of both.

Today it’s about fat. Of course the Banting diet is all about fat and the amount of fat and using that as a source as opposed to carbohydrates. But first of all Mark looking at fat itself what are the key sort of functions of fat?

The function of fat

MW: Well I think fat is again a very important component in anybody’s diet. Let’s look at the advantages of consuming fat. It’s a brilliant source of energy definitely the most powerful when harnessed. As I’ve mentioned before I think in one of the previous podcast one gram of fat is equivalent to nine calories. Where a gram of carbohydrate or protein is only equivalent to 4 calories. So that just shows you how powerful fat actually is.

It’s used to provide healthy cells. In many scenarios it’s far better for mineral and vitamin absorption. Definitely fats are major brain fuel if you think about that it’s one of the reasons why omegas are so recommended not just by medical doctors but by nutritionist and wellness consultants when it comes to children.

For the ladies out there fat provides far better skin without a doubt it also helps with the elasticity of the skin. Fat keeps you feeling fuller for longer so they satiate you for a lot longer period of time. Which means that you will probably land up eating a lot less in the long run by consuming obviously of course the healthy fats.

Do Not eat the following fats

If we look at the bad side of fats there are very bad fats and certain fats are known to cause very bad health issues. Another thing fats provide an excellent taste to food. Definitely great tasting food often causes over eating which means you land up consuming an excessive amount of fat and of course excessive fat intake can be harmful.

DK: Now Mark you talked about again good and bad fat. Starting with the bad fat what are the things that we should be avoiding. Then following that what are the good fats? You talked about omegas, things like avocado I know coconut oil is a big one. So first of all bad fats?

MW: Well I think let’s look at the number one and that’s trans fats and obviously all these processed fats as well. So your hydrogenated vegetables oils etcetera. When I see anything like that on a label I completely actually eliminate that food. I would never even make it a food selection.

Yet it exists in many processed foods worldwide. Why because it’s cheap and it’s a filler and it’s used as processing aids and food out there is a big business. So the best thing to do is to stick to the more natural fats.

The best fats for you to eat

If we looking at natural fats we talking about two main forms, one that’s vegetable derived or plant derived let’s call it. The other that is animal derived. So if we looking at the plant derived fats that’s something that I would recommend more than animal derived fats. I’m a big fan of eating plant based fats. So there we’re talking fats like your olive oil, we talking as you mentioned coconut oil, avocado oil etcetera are excellent.

Some of the other fats which I think are quite good in a limited form which are your omega 6 or things like your sesame seed paste or tahini as people know it. I mean that’s an excellent omega 6 fat.

Then you get your omega 9’s as well I mean coconut is a variety of quite a few but very high in your medium Medium Chain Triglycerides. One of the things I love about MCT is that they are the fastest converted fat into fuel. So definitely an endurance athlete mecca when it comes to fat consumption.

If you looking at the animal fats of course there we looking at the dairy industry of course there are some benefits when it comes to eating those kinds of fats. I would say it should be limited. A lot of people love dairy and they eat it excessively. But that obviously also leads to weight gain and another thing is that most dairy products are very much processed.

So again looking for a more unprocessed or more natural sort of a fat there. Again if you looking at your butters rather go for a full fat butter as opposed to processed butter or margarine. Because the health benefits of a full fat butter far outweigh any other process spread that you would find.

If you looking at the other kinds of fats those are the ones that will reside in meat, those kind of meat definitely contain fat. If you want to classify the two types of fats that we’ve spoken about.

We’re talking about your plant based fats being your unsaturated fats and your animal based fats being your saturated fats. I think both are required when it comes to eating. But I would say definitely go more for the unsaturated fats in the diet. In other words the plant based fats as opposed to the saturated fats. Because generally you’d find that those leads to more health based issues than your plant based fats.

How your fat stores fuel you

DK: Now Mark we know that fats very important when it comes to exercise when it comes to endurance. It’s one of the key fuels that our body does have. But what would you need in terms of supplementation around training, around exercising when it comes to fat, do we need to add to our fat stores?

MW: It’s a very interesting question and I think let’s answer it this way. I always tell many athletes if you want to learn how to burn fat then you need to learn how to eat fat and that’s really a fact.

So how do we burn fat, we mentioned it earlier. I mean performing at a specific intensity where you getting enough oxygen into the system. So more aerobic level activity, that’s where your fat stores come into play.

There’s no real reason to supplement with fats in order to be able to burn fat off. Your body will naturally burn fat at a certain intensity over a long period of time. Basically we just mentioned mitigating carbohydrate intake at that point if you want to maximise fat burn.

So yes the one aspect is minimalistic training as we call it. I think we’re going to be doing a podcast specifically on that. But in order to become more fat efficient and harnessing your own natural fat stores is to probably water train a little bit more. Try to take in a little bit less in order to be able to burn more.

We’ve got natural fat stores and that’s really one of the ways that can be harnessed but there are ways of sort of mimicking or increasing that rate of fat burn. One of the things that I’ve often recommended and we’ll do a podcast specifically on these as well.

How best to ustilise MCT’s

But one of the things is that if you can free up a large amount of free fatty acids into the system. Also load yourself with MCT’s a while prior to exercise. That gives you a nice amount of fats sitting in the system that’s readily available to be used as fuel.

Of course going and consuming excessive amounts of carbohydrates with that will not aid the fat burn. So I would recommend if you really wanted to play it try taking some MCT oil. Even adding a little bit of caffeine in there to help with the freeing up of free fatty acids. Mitigate taking anything that would raise your blood sugar and see how your body responds to that.

As I mentioned before MCT oil is an amazing fat which is very quickly converted into energy. It bypasses the normal process that fat would have to go through to be converted ultimately ATP for fuel. MCT bypasses that entire process and is converted a lot quicker.

So that definitely can be utilised as a major source of fuel but you would have to train your gut. You would have to train yourself to be able to utilise that. It’s not something that happens instantaneously.

How fat can help you eat less empty calories

DK: Mark looking at recovery what should you be doing or what should you be consuming when it comes to fat as part of your recovery?

MW: That’s also a very interesting question in that we know that if your glycogen stores are depleted fats not going to get it back up very quickly. It’s going to take a lot longer. One of the main reasons I recommend consuming fat post exercise is to actually keep that hunger at bay.

Like I mentioned earlier when you put fat into your system it keeps you feeling a lot fuller. The breakdown process is a lot longer so what actually happens is it keeps you feeling fuller for longer. You won’t actually land up eating any empty calories later on through the day.

So if you going to have a carbohydrate meal post exercise and definitely I mentioned before you should be taking some protein post exercise as well. One of the things you should try and add to that meal is some fat that will ultimately stabilise you, satiate you. You should be eating cleaner for the rest of the day post exercise.

DK: Well Mark we’re out of time but some fantastic information again and we’ve got some great topics that we will take forward to other podcasts as Mark mentioned. One I’d like to look at is looking at dairy, looking at high fat verses low fat and just explaining that more what it means to people. So stay tuned we are coming to you every Thursday, right here on 32Gi Sports Nutrition. From myself David Katz, Mr. Active and Mark Wolff we’ll catch you next time.

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