Four Interesting Facts about Dietary Fat by Stuart MacEwan
When I started training clients 10 years ago, it was common at that time to be very cautious of including too much fat in a clients diet. The standard reasoning seemed to be that if a client was trying to slim down and burn fat, then it should be reduced or even eliminated from their diet. Happily, since that time the culture of sports nutrition has reversed itself and begun to recognize daily fat intake as an important macronutrient in a clients diet. In an effort to get clients to feel more comfortable with including fat into their daily nutritional intake, it is important to understand the unique roles fat plays in regulating our hunger, our digestion and our internal hormonal balance. Below are 4 points to consider when encouraging your clients to up their dietary fat consumption.
- Saturated fat contains a hormone called leptin. When saturated fat is digested in the stomach, leptin is sensed and measured by the duodenum (the stomachs sphincter-like gateway to the small intestine). Leptin is a “satiety hormone” and when the duodenum senses sufficient amounts of leptin, a message is then conveyed to the brain that the stomach is full. Since most clients are trying to regulate the size of their meals, getting a “full” feeling while eating smaller portion sizes can really help a person feel satisfied with a smaller meal.
- Eating sufficient fat with each meal will slow down the digestion of your meal. When fat enters the stomach, the stomach produces enterogastrone (a hormone in the mucosa produced by the duodenum) which slows the forward motion of digested food products from the stomach into the small intestine. And slower digestion is usually a good thing for allowing the body to maintain adequate and stable blood sugar levels, while helping a client feel satisfied between meals.
- Both saturated and unsaturated fats are used as the building blocks of hormones in your body. Just as proteins are broken down into amino acids and then are restructured into your skeletal muscle tissue, so also are dietary fats broken down into the precursor building blocks of hormones. Insulin, dopamine, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, growth hormone… all come from dietary fat intake. Your body makes the greater part of its hormone reserves while you sleep at night. This further illustrates the importance of getting undisturbed adequate sleep to aide in the regeneration and production of sufficient hormone stores.
- Eating adequate dietary fat will reassure your body that fat is plentiful in your daily eating regimen, allowing your body to burn more body-fat from your careful diet and exercise program. When your body thinks that a daily dietary intake is in consistent short supply, it will take metabolic steps to protect its own internal reserves so as not to become unprotected from deficiencies. Remember that your metabolism is set up to protect you from famine. In times of inadequate food intake, it is your internal fat stores that your body will rely on (along with your muscle tissue) to allow you not to die of starvation and mal-nutrition. Reassure your body that it is not starving by steadily eating balanced portions of fat with your meals. This will allow your metabolism to free up its own internal fat stores to be burned as energy for your daily lifestyle.
Even with this small selection of important properties and effects of dietary fat, it should be clear that adequate fat intake is a critical part of a clients nutritional regimen. A nutritionist can help you create a proper nutrition program that includes the right amounts and types of fat in your daily diet.