One aspect of nutrition to not overlook is the consumption of healthy fats. Wait, won’t I get fat if I eat fat? The answer to this question is of course, yes, but only if you live an inactive lifestyle with a diet high in sugars. For someone actively trying to get into shape, whether that be adding muscle mass or losing fat, consuming dietary fats is an essential part of a well-balanced diet.
In fact, there are numerous benefits to ensuring you consume some healthy fats in your diet. Among these are a reduction in inflammation, a boost in testosterone and energy levels, and keeping the brain and nervous system functioning at its best. Studies have also shown consuming healthy fats have a role in preventing cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, improving digestion, and balancing hormones.
So let’s quickly look at the types of fats. The four types of fats are trans-fat, saturated fat, mono-unsaturated fat, and poly-unsaturated fat (omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids). Trans-fats need to be avoided at all cost. The other three types all play an essential role in bodily functions. So where does one get these healthy fats from. Let’s take a look at some of the best sources of dietary fat to include in your nutrition plan.
Nuts – Consume all varieties including almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts. High in fiber, vitamins and a source of omega-6 fats
Nut butters – Peanut, almond, cashew, etc.
Avocados – Contains a nutrient profile similar to nuts, source of omega-6 fats.
Flax seed/oil – Good source of omega-3 fats.
Coconut oil – Saturated fat, great for cooking.
Olive oil – High in mono-saturated fat and an omega-6 source.
Fish oil – Omega-3 fat source, salmon is the best source here.
An important item to remember is to keep your omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intake close to a 1:1 ratio as possible. Since most of the sources above provide omega-6 fats, a great way to do this if you do not consume enough fish is to supplement with fish oils. Whether it is in a pill form or liquid form it is important to get a quality product so you do not throw your money down the drain. Look for products that contain a high amount of EPA and DHA relative to the total amount of fat per serving.
Ensure that you rotate your fat sources to get a nice balance of all the different types in your diet. Don’t be afraid to consume healthy fats, especially when you are pushing yourself in the gym. They provide numerous benefits and are essential to your body. Take note that fats contain over twice as many calories as protein and carbs per gram so watch the amount you intake those calories can add up fast.