Fat is the fuel for current lifestyle


Fats are one of the major macronutrients and a very clean source of energy for our bodies. Each gram of fat releases 9 Kcal in our body which is more than double from carbohydrates (4 Kcal). We consume fat in our body from a variety of sources like ghee, butter, nuts, seeds, oils, meat, etc.

A very important thing to remember is that human’s lifestyle has shifted dramatically over the last few decades from being physically active to almost sedentary, from outdoors to inbound offices with air conditioners, from consuming raw and unadulterated food to consuming a lot of processed food. With this shift in lifestyle, there is a dramatic increase in heart diseases, obesity, Blood pressure problems, and almost all the lifestyle diseases.

Carbohydrates are a rapid source of energy, i.e. they get consumed very fastly in the body. That is why people who need a large amount of energy for a short period of time like runners, athletes, etc. rely heavily on carbohydrates for their energy and that makes a lot of sense. But considering most of us who don’t have a very physically active lifestyle certainly not like the athletes also rely heavily on carbohydrates creates a lot of problems that we don’t realize.

On the other hand, Fats, although they are dense in calories but release energy slowly because of an entirely different process in the body to consume them. And hence it makes much more sense to include a lot of dietary fats in our diets. Fats are processed in the body by lipolysis which includes a Krebs cycle that is much slower than the process by which carbohydrates are broken down in our body called glycolysis. We will discuss these later in a different article, but for now, understand that fats are a very useful component in our diet and suit our lifestyle a lot more than carbohydrates.

Fats can be classified in many different ways depending on their attributes and we will see the most popular method that takes into account the different ways fats behaves in the body:

1. Saturated Fats

The good but the controversial ones. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature hence called the solid fats also and are “saturated” with hydrogen atoms. They are found in animal meats, dairy products, butter, ghee, and some vegetable oils like coconut oil.

Other than being a source of energy, saturated fats are used in 50% of the body’s cell membrane, used by the bones for calcium metabolism, are very important in hormone formation like cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, and are very necessary for the immune system.

Some of the best sources of pure saturated fats are:

  • Animal meats and meat products
  • Ghee/clarified butter
  • Unprocessed butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Dairy products

2. Unsaturated Fats

Considered as the good ones but not all of them. Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and are mostly extracted from plants. There are two types of unsaturated fats:

2.1 Monounsaturated fats:

In monounsaturated fat, there is one double bond present between two carbon atoms leaving the whole molecule unsaturated by two hydrogen molecules. These are considered healthy fats and supports insulin sensitivity. From the various sources of monounsaturated fats by the American Heart Association, it turns out that not all of them are healthy:

Healthy monounsaturated fats:

  • Virgin olive oil and olives
  • Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts
  • Avocado

Unhealthy monounsaturated fats:

  • Canola oil, only healthy if it is organic
  • All refined and hydrogenated vegetable oils

2.2 Polyunsaturated fats: These are called polyunsaturated because there is more than one double bond between carbon atoms. Polyunsaturated fats are a rich source of omega 3 and omega 6 fats. Omega 3’s are important because they have anti-inflammatory properties supports healthy hormone formation. Omega 6’s are important for healthy brain and muscle function but these cause inflammation and hence need to be controlled. Because of omega 6 inflammation properties and omega 3 anti-inflammatory properties, a balance in consuming them is required.

Sources of polyunsaturated fats are:

Rich in omega 6:

  • Almonds, cashews, pistachio
  • Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil
  • Sunflower oil

Rich in omega 3:

  • Flax and chia seeds
  • Seafood
  • Walnut

Unhealthy ones(Genetically modified):

  • Corn oil
  • Soybean and soybean oil

3. Trans fats

The Devils! If I have to give only one health advice for you regarding fats it would be “Cut down all the trans fat from your diets.” They are a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation in which hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils for preventing them from going rancid.

Trans fats are heavily linked to heart diseases and all cardiovascular diseases. Trans fats are one of the main causes of fats having a bad reputation.

Sources of trans fat:

  • Margarine, nutralite
  • Cakes, pastries, doughnuts
  • Pizza and fast foods
  • Processed foods

Over the last few decades, fats have taken a bad reputation but there is only a certain kind of fats that are unhealthy for your body. Although it is being promoted by various studies that saturated fats are not good to consume since they increase the risk of heart diseases but all those studies are done for saturated fats present in processed food which also contains a lot of sugar and trans fat http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i1246

Also, one critical thing about Polyunsaturated fatty acids is that AHA claims that these are good for coronary heart disease, but in fact, for polyunsaturated fats which are rich in omega 6, it’s the opposite because omega 6 causes inflammation and also damages the mitochondria(the powerhouse of the cell), which lowers the body’s ability to make energy and leads to every degenerative disease known.


Fats are very useful components of our food, although the American heart association recommends having up to 35% of fats in our diets recent and concrete studies are showing that we can take up to 65-70% of our calories from our diets. Saturated fats are actually healthy if consumed in raw forms, and can be taken in large amounts in our diets if they are not processed. Although unsaturated fats are known as very healthy fats not all of them are good for the body either because they are genetically modified to suit the high demand in the market, or because of being high in omega 6. Trans Fats are the ones that are deadly and should be minimized in our diets.

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