If you want to lose fat one of the worst things you can do is stop eating it, especially nutrient-packed sources such as avocado. High-quality fats are essential to optimal health, not least the production of muscle-building and fat-burning testosterone.
“Whatever nutrition plan you’re following, a good starting point to ensure your daily fat intake is divided equally between monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fat sources,” says Dr John Berardi of Precision Nutrition.
The only type to avoid are trans fats, which are rarely found in natural foods but are common in takeaways, snacks and fast foods. They have been linked to serious health issues including heart disease, cancer and obesity. Read on for advice to make sure you’re getting the full healthy fat benefit.
1. Burn off your belly
It might sound counter-intuitive at first, but eating fat won’t make you fat (unlike eating and drinking lots of high-sugar snacks and drinks, which will). In fact, it will help you lose it. Subjects on a moderate-fat Mediterranean-style diet lost 4.4kg of weight on average, while those on a low-fat diet lost just 2.9kg, in a study published in the New England Journal Of Medicine. What’s more, researchers found that the fat-eating group had better insulin sensitivity, meaning they were better able to burn fat and build muscle efficiently.
2. Boost your sex drive
Fat is essential for good reproductive health because your body needs it for making hormones, especially androgens, the male sex hormones. A lack of dietary fat can significantly reduce sex drive because it lowers levels of free testosterone – the higher your levels the higher your libido, and the easier it is to build muscle and burn fat. One study, published in the Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology And Metabolism, found that men put on a low-fat and high-carb diet suffered a 12% decline in androgen levels.
3. Sharpen your brain
Fats not only make you stronger and leaner, they also make you smarter. Omega 3, a type of polyunsaturated fat known as an essential fatty acid (because your body can’t produce it, so it has to be consumed through your diet), has been linked to a huge number of health benefits. These include a better-functioning brain and reduced risk of depression and dementia. The best source of omega 3 is cold-water oily fish, such as salmon. Start getting more into your diet with this super simple grilled salmon recipe.
4. Look and feel better
If you always hit your five-a-day target of fruit and veg, you may think you are getting all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to look and feel your best. However, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, which means that they are only properly absorbed in your intestines when fat is present. Add a little butter to your steamed veg – it’ll not only make it taste better, it’ll also increase nutrient absorption.
Best Foods For Healthy Fats
Phytosterols and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs) may not sound appetising but these fats, found in avocados, have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Just 100g of salmon gives you a healthy 2g hit of the omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which help reduce inflammation of the joints and improve brain function.
The childhood favourites is good for adults too, because it contains monounsaturated fats that help to lower the risk of heart disease, according to a study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition.
Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that improves blood cholesterol and lowers blood pressure, accounts for 75% of the total fat content of olive oil.
The seeds from the plant that makes linen are rich in alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that’s been shown to lower the risk of heart disease.
These nuts are fantastic for heart health and have been shown to lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. They also have anti-inflammatory qualities, which makes them a good post-gym snack.