Most of us assume that fat is bad for our body and we should eat it as little as possible. That is because dietary fat has a bad reputation related to heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases. But complete starvation of fat in your diet plan and body can also lead to serious health issues as your body needs fats to function correctly.
Fat is a vital part of our diet and essential for good health. Fats have many crucial roles like it helps to absorb and transport fat-soluble vitamins, for example – vitamins A, D, E, and K. It also protects your organs and safeguard you to keep your body warm.
Why Does Your Body Need Fat?
Fats deliver your bodies with essential fatty acids, which are needed to build and retain your cell membranes. These are important for your hair, skin, heart, eyes, and brain. Fats also support making certain hormones and help you feel full.
Most people may be more concerned about eating a lot of vitamin-rich foods. However, it will help if you remember that your body will not absorb them. Instead, your body needs sufficient amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. You also need fatty acids to aid the function of your brain and eyes for wound healing and the adequate production of hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Fats are essential because they:
Helps Absorb Vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, implying your body can consume them only when you eat them along with fat. An absence of fat in your diet can result in vitamin deficiencies, leading to several health issues.
Supports Cell Growth
Fat delivers structure to the outer membrane of cells in your body. It enables your body to give energy, supports cell growth, protects your organs, helps to absorb vital nutrients, and keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control. So when you concentrate too much on cutting out all fat, you can restrain your body from what it requires most.
Supports Brain and Eye Health
The omega-3 fatty acids enable you to maintain the health of your nervous system, brain, and retinas. But unfortunately, your body does not make these fatty acids, and you can only get them from consuming essential fats.
Vital fatty acids play an essential role in blood clotting and wound healing. According to research, both fats and carbohydrates lead to increased energy needs. In addition, it benefits cellular activity, inflammatory response, and angiogenesis or formation of new blood vessels. It also works on collagen deposition in the proliferative phase, when the wound rebuilds with new tissue, of the recovery procedure.
Fat intake will support the production of cholesterol. Cholesterol (HDL) is the antecedent to your sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. If you are not eating an adequate amount of fat, you may experience hormonal imbalances. These imbalances might affect your health. That is because your body requires dietary fat to make particular hormones, including sex hormones.
Source of Energy
According to research, carbohydrates and fat are the two essential fuels for metabolism. There is a limited supply of carbohydrates in the body but not fat. The average man has about fifteen percent of his body weight as fat, whereas the average woman has about twenty-five percent of her body weight as fat. Each gram of fat you eat provides you with about nine calories of energy. For example, each gram of carbohydrate or protein gives only four calories of energy.
What are the Signs of Fat Deficiency?
The essential fatty acids play significant roles in the functioning of your body. But a deficiency of fats can show up in numerous ways. The following are the fundamental signs that you need to look out for.
Skin Problems and Hair Loss
Research has found that fat is an essential part of the structure of your skin cells and enables your skin to maintain its moisture barrier. Therefore, if you don’t eat enough dietary fat, it could entail the health of your skin and lead to skin problems like dermatitis. “Dermatitis” is a common term to describe inflamed skin. Dermatitis caused by a dietary fat deficiency often manifests as scaly, dry rashes.
The skin is impaired primarily due to fat deficiency. Specific fat molecules called prostaglandins are essential for hair growth and health. When you do not receive enough fats, the hair follicles get damaged. It certainly means hair loss and similar issues will show up. On the other hand, consuming too little fat could alter your hair texture, and research suggests it could also increase the danger of hair loss on your eyebrows and scalp.
Your body requires dietary fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Not getting sufficient of these essential nutrients can increase your risk of diseases. These include night blindness, swollen gums, easy bruising, depression, and infertility.
Adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals like selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 are essential for the proper function of your endocrine system, which generates hormones. Fat deficiency indicates that you’re not receiving enough nutrients, implying that your hormones are likely imbalanced. For women, it can lead to irregularities in the menstrual cycle, but it can influence sexual and mental processes for both genders.
The undeniable link with the absorption of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants leads to a problem like exhaustion or fatigue. So it is when you have a fat deficiency. Apart from these vital nutrients, the lack of satiety is also related to a fat deficiency leading to mental and physical fatigue.
If you’re eating fruits, veggies, and even some carbs and are still continually falling sick, you need to check if your healthy fat intakes are adequate. Because fat deficiency implies malabsorption, your body isn’t receiving enough nutrients even if you’re eating them. It ends up diminishing your immune system. Daily eating one serving of seeds and nuts, also looking into your fat deficiency is likely to resolve, leading to good health.
Loss of Immunity
According to research, your body requires fat to build many vital molecules that regulate your body’s inflammatory response. Therefore, low dietary fat consumption could disrupt this reaction and slow wound healing.
Depleting fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin D can also result in wounds healing more slowly than they should.
Severely prohibiting fat intake can diminish your immune system, resulting in more frequent illnesses. It is because your body requires dietary fat to produce various molecules that facilitate the activity of your immune cells.
Vital fatty acids are also essential for the development of immune cells. In particular, your body requires omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid.
Types of Dietary Fat
Trans fats are generally present in partially hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oils typically enhance processed foods’ shelf life and taste. Hence, your body doesn’t require them. However, eating a lot of trans fat can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Trans fats are present in:
- Processed foods such as microwave popcorn, crackers, and frozen pizzas
- Baked goods such as store-bought pie crusts, cookies, and cakes
- Fried foods
- Margarine and vegetable shortening
Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products such as eggs, meat, and dairy products. This kind of fat is generally solid at room temperature. The USDA proposes getting less than ten percent of your daily calories from saturated fats. Current research indicates that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat is related to a lower risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are present in:
- Butter, ghee, lard, suet, palm oil, and coconut oil
- Fatty cuts of meat sausages
- Cured meats like salami, chorizo, and pancetta
- Pastries, such as croissants, quiches, pies, and sausage rolls
- Cream, crème fraîche and sour cream
- Ice cream
- Coconut milk and coconut cream
- Chocolate and chocolate spreads
Monounsaturated fats can help decrease the LDL or bad cholesterol in your blood. It can also reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. These fats may be present in foods like:
- Plant-based oils such as olive oil, sesame oil, and safflower oil
- Walnuts, cashews, almonds, and peanuts
- Nut butter
Your body can’t produce polyunsaturated fats; that’s why you need to consume them from food. Polyunsaturated fats are commonly known as essential fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are a particular type of polyunsaturated fat that can help decrease your risk of heart disease, help lower your blood pressure and protect you against irregular heart rates. You can find this fat in foods like:
- Fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
Tips for Creating a More Balanced Diet
The USDA proposes getting up to thirty-five percent of your calories from fat. It suggests that:
- Up to ninety-seven grams of fat each day in a 2,500-calorie diet
- Up to sixty-six grams of fat each day in a 2,000-calorie diet
- Around fifty grams of fat each day in a 1,500-calorie diet
But not all fats are equal, and it is best to avoid eating foods that include trans fats whenever possible. It is okay to incorporate saturated fats like eggs, dairy products, or meat into your diet. But try to consume most of your fat intake from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat sources. These include:
- Olives and olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Fatty fish and fish oil
Most foods have a mixture of different fats. Therefore, you should adequately choose foods higher in healthier fats. These are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Possible Adverse Effects of Excess Fat Consumption
Saturated fat is a kind of dietary fat. It is also one of the unhealthy fats, along with trans fat. These fats are most frequently solid at room temperature. Foods like red meat, coconut oil, butter, palm oil, and cheese have high saturated fat. Consuming too much saturated fat in your diet can result in heart disease and other health problems.
Saturated fats are not suitable for your health in numerous ways:
Heart Disease Risk
Your body requires healthy fats for energy and other parts to function. But too much-saturated fat can result in cholesterol building up in your blood vessels. In addition, saturated fats increase your LDL or bad cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol expands your risk for stroke and heart disease.
Many high-fat foods such as baked goods, pizza, and fried foods have a lot of saturated fat. Therefore, eating too many high-fat foods can add additional calories to your diet, resulting in weight gain. All fats include nine calories per gram of fat. Moreover, this is more than twice the amount found in protein and carbohydrates.
Cutting out saturated fats and high-fat foods can help you maintain your weight. Less intake of these fats can also keep your heart healthy. Staying at a healthy weight can decrease your risk of developing heart diseases, diabetes, and other health problems.
Your body requires dietary fat for many biological procedures. If you don’t get it in sufficient amounts in your diet, you may notice hair loss, dry rashes, issues related to vitamin deficiencies, and a weaker immune system. Most of your fats should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats to maintain good health. These fats are typically present in nuts, fatty fish, olive oil, seeds, and avocados.
If you’re experiencing any of the above-given signs, look at what you are eating at each meal to see if the issue may be eating too little fat, protein or carbs. Rather than going from one extreme low-fat diet to the other extreme high-fat diet, following a balanced diet that comprises healthy amounts of all foods is perfect for your body.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Q. Do you lose fat when you’re hungry?
A. Hunger is generally a reflection that your body has consumed energy from recent food you ate, and it has moved on to obtaining energy from sugar in your blood. The body stocks sugar as glycogen, which discharges when you feel hungry. The more sugars you consume, the more fuel your body utilises before it is out to the fat stores. Reducing your carb consumption minimises the quantity of stored sugar in your body, enabling your body to burn fat when you are hungry.
Q. Do I need to eat more to lose fat?
A. To lose weight, you have to cut down on your calories. However, keep in mind not to cut too many. If you do this, you’ll need to eat more to lose weight. However, it allows your body to do its job while still preparing you for your weight loss goal.
Q. Will I gain weight if I overeat one day?
A. Many people overeat periodically. However, following workout tips and healthful habits may enable you to get back on track quickly. If a recent binge eating episode results in stress or anxiety, keep in mind that a single day of overeating cannot cause weight gain.
Q. Is it okay to sit after eating?
A. Lying down right after eating can lead the food to move back up and out of your stomach. Staying upright and preventing positions in which you are leaning back for 2-3 hours after a large meal will reduce the risk of heartburn. Sitting up straight enables your food to digest properly and helps prevent symptoms of indigestion, heartburn, or cramps.
Q. Is saturated fat harder to burn off?
A. The saturated fat molecules are so tightly packed together. That is why they are more challenging for your bodies to break down. They also have a higher melting point, solid at room temperature.
Q. Can exercise burn saturated fat?
A. If you overeat trans fat or saturated fat from your diet, you may negatively influence your cholesterol level. It doesn’t matter if you work out or not. While exercise is a healthful way to burn extra fat, eating the right fats in your diet is equally significant.
Q. What foods help burn belly fat?
A. Studies suggest that a diet rich in high protein foods, such as fish, eggs, meat, nuts, seafood, legumes, and dairy, results in less abdominal fat. It also leads to increased metabolic function and more satiety. Incorporating fibre-rich foods into your diet is also a key to keeping off body fat.
Q. Can you eat eggs on a low-fat diet?
A. It is well-known evidence that eggs have been a popular name in the list of high cholesterol foods. A single egg includes around two hundred and ten mg of dietary cholesterol. However, researchers indicate that the consumption of trans fat and saturated fats has a more significant effect on blood cholesterol levels than the consumption of dietary cholesterol. So, eggs are safer in that way.
Q. Does cheese contain fat?
A. Cheese is a fantastic source of calcium and protein but is frequently high in salt and saturated fat. It implies overeating could result in high cholesterol and blood pressure. It increases your danger of stroke or heart disease.
Q. Is eating a high-fat diet healthy?
A. Making healthy choices can decrease the danger of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome, which comprises obesity. For example, research indicates that a high-fat and low-carb diet can help you lose weight. It, in turn, can help decrease the risk of chronic conditions like heart diseases and diabetes.