The next macro we need to talk about is… FAT! Already I can already feel the negative feels associated with this word. We all grew up immersed in the dogma that… eating fat makes you fat, right? Greasy greaseballs all up in your arteries, clogging them, making you sweat like a fat person. Ugh gross! It’s the model of our body as a plumbing system. Just a bunch of pipes, and just like grease gets stuck to a pan and is hard to wash off, it’s the same for your body right?
Sorry, WRONG! “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong,” according to this H.L. Mencken guy from the 19th-20th century.
This is the case with fat. It makes sense that fat would make you fat. Eat fat, get fat. Everything about it seems like it should be true. Except for the science supporting this idea, which doesn’t exist. Dietary cholesterol doesn’t matter either. I know, rocking your world.
Fat that comes from whole food sources is healthy for you! Meat, vegetables (non-seed based). Saturated and Unsaturated. Stay away from trans fats though, that stuff is made in a lab to increase shelf life of Cheez-Its. It doesn’t come from whole foods.
At 9 kCal per gram, fat is also an ideal energy source (compared to 4 kCals per gram for Protein and Carbs). It is the fuel your body prefers to burn when it is not engaged in strenuous exercise. It also is what keeps you going when you burn up all your glycogen after 30-60 min of sustained exercise. You can even convert fats into usable glycogen (for your muscles and brain) through a process called Gluconeogenesis.
So what matters when it comes to fat? Proportions, gross energy balance, and source. Fat should make up about 30-40% of your daily caloric intake, give or take depending on your background and goals. So, it’s important at each meal that it’s represented proportionally. BUT, because fat has slightly more than twice the energy density (9 kCal/gram vs. 4 kCal/gram), it should only take up about 15-20% of your plate by mass (or volume approximately).
Protein should make up about 30% of your daily energy balance, which leaves about 30% for carbs (which we’ll discuss next time).
Most of us don’t eat individual macros, however, so these will be rough approximations. If you’re eating a fatty cut of meat, for example, that counts towards the plate proportions. This is called the Plate Method, by the way, google it!
The Plate Method will help you roughly approximate your daily macronutrient totals, which are based on your current body composition, activity levels, and ultimate goals. When you’re ready to graduate, macros will help you dial in exactly how much fat you should shoot for on a daily basis.
If you’re eating fat from whole foods, that will be a big improvement right away. A second order aspect we’d like to look at is your ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids, which depends on the fat source. Omegas 3s are the good stuff. High quality fish oil is full of omega 3s. Nuts and seeds generally have more omega 6s relatively, as does factory farmed meat. These tend to cause inflammation, which is the devil.
So you will generally want to supplement some omega 3s (with fish oil) if you’re not prancing through the fields hunting your wild elk on your weekend trips away from your organic farm. It helps keep things balanced, as well as reduces systemic inflammation from your workouts and stress. Check out SFH liquid Fish Oil and shoot for about 3 grams per day for beginners. If you are using another source, read the labels for how much EPA + DHA they have per service. There are very few high quality brands out there (PurePharma, NordicNaturals), and not only will you need to consume 5-10 big pills if they are lower quality, but they could also be expired and rancid (which you can’t tell with a pill, which is why I recommend liquid). ***Consult your Physician/Provider, especially if you’re on blood thinners, as fish oil tends to add to that effect. ***
You’re probably pretty skeptical still of all this, I know I was at first. It just seems SO wrong to eat all that delicious bacon and eggs. But give it a try for 2-3 months, and schedule appointments with your provider to measure your Triglyceride (bad guys) to HDL (good guys) ratio before and after (total cholesterol is bunk). If it’s going down you’re on the right track. Less than 3:5 or 0.6 is considered “good.” Get your A1C checked too, because we’ll be talking about that next time with our Carbs and sugar episode :).
Cypher Health & Fitness Owner