1. Clean fuel
Fat has more than double the energy content of protein or carbohydrate. You can eat less for the same amount of energy you require. It’s the most basic way of living a low-carbon footprint lifestyle! Your body’s store of emergency fuel supply is in the form of fat because it’s efficient.
2. Your body’s basic building block
The membranes or walls of human body cells are made from fat (mainly phospholipids, triglycerides and cholesterol). They influence how well a cell absorbs nutrients, and also control what substances get in or out of a cell. Fat is needed for blood clotting, wound healing and inflammation response, among other processes.
3. Sharp brain, big heart, eagle eyes
Vitamins A, D, E and K can’t be absorbed in your intestine without fat. Also, some types of fat, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, can’t be produced by your body and must come from your diet. Your brain, eye and heart function, and your growth and development depend on fat. In fact, your brain is 60% fat (comprising DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid).
How much fat should you eat?
Most international and national recommendations put the range of fat intake for adults at between 20% and 35% of their total daily energy intake. If you’re a reasonably active woman, for example, your typical energy requirement is 2,000 kcal a day, of which between 44 g and 78 g should be fat. For men (based on a daily energy requirement of 2,500 kcal) this means between 55 g and 97 g of daily fat inta
This upper limit is mainly to prevent you from fuelling up with more energy than you use in a day. There is also a lower limit for fat consumption of at least between 15% and 20% because fat is needed by your body.
What type of fat?
Here’s where it gets even more complicated. The prevailing consensus is that 10% of your total energy intake be saturated fat, or 22g for women and 28g for men. Unsaturated fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated should comprise the rest. Artificial trans fat, or hydrogenated vegetable oil, should be avoided because it has been strongly implicated in heart disease. We hardly expect you to weigh the fat content of your food before you eat it, let alone know which foods are made of what kinds of fat. So here are some tips:
- Avoid margarine and processed foods that use refined oils.
- When you feel full, stop eating. The good news is that fatty foods send a signal to your brain to say you’re full faster than any other kind of food.
So, to make it even more simple: If you’re active, eat more. If not, eat less. Enjoy!