When choosing your foods off the supermarket shelf, do you always opt for the products labeled zero fat, fat-free or low fat? If you do, chances are that you may be doing yourself a complete disservice. Firstly, because these “lower fat” products are often filled with chemicals and sugars to replace the taste of the removed fat (fat-free does not mean sugar-free) and secondly because fats are an essential part of our daily diet. Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or improve overall fitness, fat plays an integral role. The main thing to be considered is that we are getting in the right source of fats.

Benefits: Fitness Related Healthy Fats

  • Provide sustained energy for long-distance events.
  • Help your body to absorb certain vitamins for optimal function.
  • Protect the heart which is much needed as it takes a pounding in endurance exercise.
  • Help to maintain healthy testosterone levels which protect muscle mass and improves vitality.
  • Support healthy hormone levels.
  • Improve brain function to help mental focus.

Daily Fat Requirements:

In general, an average individual should get between 20 and 35% of their daily calorie intake from fats. These should be from healthy fat sources like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Only about 10% of your fat intake should be from saturated fats.

It may seem like you would need to eat a lot of fats to get 35% of your calories from them, but because fats are so high in calories (9 calories per gram), you will be surprised at how quickly these can add up. For example, a daily diet that is comprised of 2000 calories would rough-ly require you to eat 44 to 78 grams of total fat per day.

Healthy Fats

Olives

Not everyone's favourite but for those who do enjoy them, you will get roughly 5 grams of fat for every 10 olives you eat. About 3.5g comes from monounsaturated fat and 0.4g comes from polyunsaturated fat. If you are more of an olive oil fan, remember to take it easy as olive oil has a more concentrated amount of fat. A single tablespoon contains over 13g of fat.

Avocado

Half of a medium-sized avocado contains roughly 15 grams of fat. The 15g of fat in avocado includes 10g of monounsaturated fat and 2g of polyunsaturated fat.

Eggs

Besides being an extremely versatile ingredient, eggs contain a good dose of healthy fat. One large egg contains about Sg of fat. This consists of about 2g monounsaturated and 1g polyunsaturated fat.

Fatty Fish

Salmon, tuna, sardines and other fatty fish offer a heart-healthy dose of essential fats. Although very expensive, salmon is probably one of the best options. 100 grams of wild Atlantic salmon contains about 13g of fat.

Almonds

While all nuts can make a great healthy-fat snack, almonds are one of the best as they have the lowest number of calories. 20 almonds contain roughly 12g of fat. This fat includes 8 grams of monounsaturated fat and 3g polyunsaturated fat.

Flax Seeds

These fatty little seeds contain over 4g of fat per tablespoon. lg is mono-unsaturated and roughly 3g is poly-unsaturated. An added benefit of flax seeds is that they contain up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Lignans are the components of plants that act as antioxidants.

While carbohydrates are usually considered to be the supreme energy source for endurance athletes, don't forget the numerous roles fats play in helping to improve performance and overall health and fitness. From enhancing beneficial hormones to supplying energy, fats are an essential component of any athlete's dietary regimen

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