Many women believe that by eating fatty foods, you will automatically gain weight and thus avoid this. However, your body (and especially a women’s) NEEDS fats to properly function.
Every year the dieting world chooses a new victim to blame for weight game. Sugar, carbs, salt and, maybe their favourite, fats. But your body actually needs it, that’s also why it is a MACRO nutrient (meaning should be included into your daily diet).
Nonetheless, those diets contain a small amount of truth. You have 3 types of fats: unsaturated, saturated and trans fat. To start with the last two types; these are the ones you wish to avoid.
– Saturated fats will raise your levels of cholesterol and can lead to heart problems (1) , although of the two this one is the least ‘harmless’.
– Trans fats can be found in everything fried, packaged or processed food. Your body does not need this type of fat at all and it actually a type of fat produced by mankind (we started frying things, not nature).
– Unsaturated fats can be divided into monounsaturated- and polyunsaturated fats. The latter covers omega 3 and omega 6, which cannot be produced by your body so you need to get it from your food (think nuts and fatty fish). Omega 3 can be found in nuts, avocados and olive oil. (2)
As explained above, unsaturated fats are nothing to be afraid of. In fact they help you reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) and protect your heart. Another reason why you need fat is because the outside of our cells is made out of fat. They influence how well a cell will absorb nutrients (and some vitamins such as A, D and E can only be absorbed with the help of fat) but will also control wound healing, inflammation responses etc. (3)
Fats are nutrient dense which means that 1g contains 9 kcals. Especially for people training to gain weight or who need a lot of energy (kcals) during the day, this is an easy way without having to eat non-stop. Even if you are not trying to gain weight, you should aim to have between 20-30% of your diet made up of fats.
Why women need more fat
As nature has decided for us, women have to bear a child and not men. However, in order to be able to do so we need to stock up reserves to nourish the baby.(4) Even if you do not want a baby, it is important to have these type of reserves since they will be used for your period (having your period is NOT a bad thing, it shows that you have a healthy functioning body).
Hence the reason that women have around > 20% body fat whilst men usually have around 10-15%. Again, a mens and females body should not be compared to each other in terms of weight, fat percentage etc because nature shaped us differently for a reason.
So enjoy those nuts, avocado toast and fatty fish without feeling guilty or being afraid of gaining weight. As with everything in life you should eat these things in a balanced way but most of all you should enjoy them.
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