Now that we have covered the good types of fat, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, it’s time to cover the worst types of fat. However, I would like to initially state that saturated fat is not as bad as you might think. By now, you should have at least an idea of why most of your dietary fat intake should come from unsaturated fats. If you are still confused, do not worry, the next article will explain a bit more.
If there is one thing fitness experts, dieticians and fitness enthusiasts agree on, it’s probably that trans-fat is one of the worst things you can possibly consume. Trans fat could even be put on the same level as smoking and alcohol in terms of being “poisonous”.
Trans fat is a man-made by-product of oil hydrogenation. As discussed in the previous article, hydrogenation aims to increase the number of hydrogen atoms in a what could be perfectly healthy oil to make it more stable.
As a result of this process, the oil becomes “solid” (resistant) and thus could be used during frying and other high temperature demanding cooking methods. During hydrogenation, a metal catalyst, Palladium, is also used which adds to the problem.
So, why don’t processed food producers use healthier oils? Simple, profit!
Hydrogenated oils are much cheaper to use in the productions of foods compared to using something like coconut or olive oils. But, thanks to the internet and more information available to the public which led to more educated consumers, I predict that it won’t be very long until food makers decide not to use hydrogenated oils in their products. In fact, many of food makers nowadays have switched to using better oils.
For example, pick up a protein bar from your local supermarket and read the ingredient profile, you will most likely see a healthier oil listed in the ingredients profile.
It’s just a matter of time, in my opinion.
Anyway, due to the nature of trans fats, they increase the risk of heart disease by clogging the arteries and blood vessels. Trans fats increase your total cholesterol by increasing LDL cholesterol levels (bad), triglycerides and decreasing HDL cholesterol levels.
So, your cholesterol levels get a triple attack. Great! In clinical trials, trans fats have also been shown to significantly increase the risk of strokes and diabetes. In fact, trans fats contribute majorly to insulin resistance and thus nutrient partitioning, which will affect your muscle building and fat loss progress significantly in addition to harming your health. Trans fats are also highly inflammatory, which once again, is bad for overall health, muscle gain and fat loss.
If you can eliminate trans-fat completely from your diet, that would be perfect and strongly recommended. However, since “life happens” sometimes and we must eat out or eat some junk food, this isn’t always possible. Per the American Heart Association, one should NOT consume more than 2 grams of trans fats per day! And that’s considered a lot. Thus, completely eliminating tans-fats from your diet is better.
I think you can see why elimination of trans fats from your diet will optimize the rate at which you build muscle and lose fat.
How to eliminate trans fats from your diet?
Start reading food labels! I cannot stress this enough. Put a food product down as soon as you see one of the following words:
- Vegetable shortening.
- Hydrogenated oil.
- Partially hydrogenated oil. (Soybean oil, cottonseed oil, palm oil…etc.)
- Canola oil.
- Any fried food!
- Vegetable oil (chances are it’s hydrogenated and not in its pure form).
Those ingredients are usually used in baked goods, snacks, chips, ice creams, candy, cooked foods and frozen foods. Also, avoid junk food! Sometimes, a food product’s label will state that it contains 0 trans-fat.
This might be true, but food companies can “legally” lie to the consumer and state that their product has no trans-fat when it does. How? While the FDA requires processed food companies to send batches of their products to labs to get nutritional values and state those on the product’s label, the FDA also allows a margin of up to 20%.
While this is a small number, it can change a lot of things.
For example; if product X contains 2 grams of trans fat, the owning company of product X can still state 0 grams’ trans-fat on the product’s label!
Moving on to the last and most controversial type of fat: saturated fat.
So, trans fat is pure garbage and unsaturated fats are amazing. What about saturated fat? Saturated fat is still commonly treated as “bad” fat, but to a lesser degree compared to trans-fat. Clinical studies have come to different conclusions on saturated fat’s health status, however, more recent studies are finally coming to an agreement: consumption of saturated fats does not seem to be a cause of heart disease, strokes, or other chronic diseases.
In fact, consuming saturated fats in adequate amounts as part of a healthy diet is completely fine.
While the research continues on saturated fat, I speculate the following: clinical trials that have found saturated fat to be extremely unhealthy may have not eliminated other dietary and lifestyle factors from the research subjects’ lives which could have significantly skewed the outcomes against saturated fat.
Otherwise, based on the assumption that saturated fats are unhealthy, we can classify coconut oil as dangerous! Which is obviously not true and you should consume more of.
What am I saying?
What I am trying to say is that perhaps the people on whom the research was conducted had sedentary lifestyles, were overweight, ate crappy diets daily and thus were prone to certain diseases that were later attributed to saturated fat.
So, if you are a healthy individual who performs physical exercise and eats a good diet and consumes most of his dietary fat from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, you will be perfectly normal. I repeat, balance is key. So, eating TOO MUCH saturated fat is not recommended either. Ironically, most people who eat a good diet will not consume that much saturated fat anyway.
Final verdict and next step
- Eliminate trans-fat from your diet.
- Consume most of your dietary fat from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. (olive oil, fatty fish, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, flax seed, avocado…etc.)
- Saturated fats are completely fine as part of an overall healthy balanced diet.
You may still be confused as to how eating dietary fat, specifically good fats can help you build muscle and lose fat faster, so let’s discuss that in the next article:
The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between. (2015, February). Retrieved from Harvard Medical School: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good