SOOOOO FAT! There is so much controversy and quite a bit of confusion on this subject, but it’s really quite simple once you break it down. I’m going to be going over several different topics in this post as it relates to fat…starting with its impact on neurological function, and moving through hormone synthesis, regulation, and joint health. At the end I will be busting some myths regarding fat so keep reading and i’ll make this as quick and understandable as possible.
First off it’s important to understand that fat plays both a functional and structural role in our neurological system. The physical dry mass of our brain is composed of 50% fat; and consuming enough dietary fat have a massive effect on the brain… since meeting…or not meeting our dietary need for fat can affect multiple brain processes. This includes the regulation of synaptic transmission, membrane fluidity, and signal-transduction pathways. In other words, without sufficient dietary fat, your neuro-pathways cannot effectively communicate and transmit signals, which can obviously have a catastrophic effect on one’s cognitive processes, this affects our emotions, behavior, endocrine functions and synaptic plasticity. In the simplest of terms, without fat in your diet you cannot learn new things, adapt to changes in your environment, manage stress, regulate hormones, excite muscle tissue, or supply your body with the basic components to stay alive.
This brings us to fat as it relates to hormone synthesis and regulation. Cholesterol (a type of fat) is the basic structure from which all of our sex hormones are based, this carries huge significance, especially for the athlete. Without sufficient fat intake we cannot synthesize either estrogen or testosterone in their various forms.
Proper fat intake is doubly important for you joints because not only are quality fat sources essential for maintaining joint health, but, inversely, excessive consumption of poor quality fats…like highly saturated fats…can actually have a very damaging effect on your joints. Significant research has been done revealing that when one ingests excessive quantities of saturated fat, it actually speeds up the progression of OsteoArthritis, and that paired with any degree of obesity can cause enormous mechanical stress. The takeaway is this: if you are concerned about your joint health, more fat is not always better, and the sourcing quality is what counts! Get your fats from good quality whole foods first (like meat, dairy, eggs, cheeses, avocados, nuts, nut-butters, so on…) and if additional supplementation is absolutely necessary think olive oil, coconut oil, MCT’s, and the like.
FAT MYTH BUSTERS
Number 1- Eating fat will make you fat:
fat may be a more dense food source than carbs or protein, being 9 kilocalories per gram as opposed to 4, but as it relates to weight gain, it will only increase your weight if your consumption of fat creates a caloric surplus. If you meet your metabolic needs appropriately through counting… or at least being aware of your personal macronutrient requirements, weight gain in the form of body fat will not be a concern.
Myth number 2- You can turn fat into muscle, but if you stop exercises your muscle will turn into fat.
Uhh….False. One type of body tissue cannot simply transform into another. Just as your brain cannot just become a kidney, your muscles cannot… and will not ever be capable of just becoming fat, or vice versa. When you stop exercising you remove the stimulus for growth. When you stop growing… metabolic demand decreases and less energy in the form of calories are used up, leaving a greater surplus. This is totally fine if you decrease your calories in accordance with your newly decreased activity level, but… if left unchecked…this can lead to increases in body fat stores. As far as muscle goes…the increased muscle size attained as a result of resistance training may decrease simply because it is no longer functioning to meet the demands you were putting on it. Once resistance training is discontinued….muscle sarcoma size is decreased at approximately half the rate it took to attain it. So in other words, do not fear if you feel small or actually decrease in size…that muscle tissue is still there, you just haven’t been getting a pump. However long it took you to put on those hard sought after muscle gains, it will take you twice as long to lose any of it.
And last but not least, myth 3- do sit ups kill belly fat?
The answer to this is yes, and no. The idea of spot reduction applies to liposuction– and pretty much stops there. Doing sit-ups may decrease your belly fat, but only because you’re exercising…so it is not really reducing belly fat in the way that you think, and it is most certainly not the most effective exercise to get rid of your stubborn fat. To burn off belly fat you need to burn off body fat in general by causing your body to tap into its fat stores. This can be done by increasing your metabolic demand through guess what? the combination of diet and the thermogenic effects of exercise. To reduce belly fat, lower back fat, leg fat, or any other area where you personally store stubborn fat, do these three things. 1- focus on large compound movements to increase the metabolic stress of your skeletal muscles. 2- supplement with cardiovascular exercise while avoiding over training, and 3, clean up that diet and avoid a caloric surplus.
Comment with questions below!!