Recently I've been reading and hearing a lot about fat. These new articles are about how fat is not all bad, even for the bodybuilder. Amazingly
the writers of these articles write as if fat were a newly found miracle nutrient. I've been telling my clients for years not to cut out all fat
from their diets. Your body needs fat to be able to burn fat. I have experienced fat's fat-burning effects personally and with some of my
bodybuilder clients. It always seemed to be that as we approached the lower percentage of bodyfat (4 to 6 percent) that last little bit of fat
just would not come off, so I did my research on how fat is oxidized (burned) for energy. I found that, since our bodies require certain fatty
acids to allow fat to be oxidized, when I would cut the fat intake to near zero in the diet, the body cut off its fat-burning process. Once I cut
all the fat from the diet, the body would utilize carbs and protein for energy and store any fat I had on me and minute amounts I left in my diet.
This effect was very frustrating for my clients. After 7 to 10 weeks of dieting down and then not being able to get ripped, we all became very
disappointed. I also noticed after going back over my diet journals (mine and my clients) that for the first four to six weeks of dieting for a
show we all seemed to be coming in (getting in shape) right on time, but then we would hit that wall. In each case I found that, until the fat in
the diet was cut to a lower percentage and the bodyfat got lower in fat percentage, everyone seemed to do great with higher-fat diets. I started
to experiment with keeping the fat in the diet higher for longer periods or closer to the show. To our surprise, my clients and I started to get
ripped more efficiently. To make the results even better we all kept much higher energy levels than we had with lower fat in the diet.
When I discovered how well this approach worked, I began to use it with my clients who were just getting into better shape, looking to lose some "weight" (fat). In each one of their cases the lack of fat in the diet proved to be the problem. Most clients had completely screwed up their fat-burning process over extended periods of time with very low dietary fat, and what dietary fat they were taking in was coming from the wrong source. My biggest problem is convincing people they need more of the fight types of fat in their diets to help their bodies oxidize their stored bodyfat. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that adding fat alone will make you lean. What I am saying is that the right exercise program and the correct number of calories in the correct proportion will make a significant difference in your battle against the bulge. I have found that a fat percentage between 20 and 30 percent does wonders. Be cautious when starting to raise your fat intake though. If you have been on a diet with low dietary fat for a long time and you suddenly add a lot of fat to your diet, you will gain some fat. Do it slowly. For example, if you're at 5 percent, start by add ing 5 percent a week until you are up to 20 or 30 percent.
What's even more important is the type of fat. Not all fat is made or worth the same. Some fats, just like carbs and protein, have very little dietary value. Those that have been processed (i.e. most grocery store items with long shelf lives) are not worth anything to you. Avoid them. They have been highly processed to preserve them. Good fats go bad very quickly. Heat and light damage them, so make sure after you have purchased them that they are kept cool and hidden from light. Also make sure when you use them you add them after cooking the food or add them to food in its raw state. Do not cook with them. The heat is what changes the characteristics of the fat molecule.
Remember that whether it's good or bad fat, it still contains over twice the number of calories of carbohydrates and protein. Be careful in adding your fat. It doesn't take much to get a lot. A calorie is still n calorie as far as weight is concerned. If you take in more than you burn, you will store the excess as fat. Once your body is processing fat efficiently (burning it for energy), you will be able to eat more calories because your body will be able to burn more as a result of its higher metabolism. This is another interesting fact I found. Once I had my clients eating the right food in the right proportions, I noticed I could up their calories without any fat gain. Some of them who were eating only 500 to 1000 calories a day when they began with me now were eating 2000 to 4000 calories a day while losing fat and having incredible energy levels and - more importantly - no major food cravings. They could also eat what they wanted once in a while without making any real impact on their body composition.
I mention the cravings for an important point. Fat satisfies the body, whereas sugar creates the need of more and more. The reason for this difference is the insulin-response effect that both have. Some types of sugar bring about a sharp rise in blood-glucose levels, causing an insulin release to drive the glucose back down. Once down, the hunger is triggered and you're hungry again. Fat does not have significant insulin effects on blood-glucose levels and gives sustained energy through its slow release as glucose into the bloodstream. There is a lot more technical information on this last point but fat's "craving control" is wonderful and it works. I also have my clients eat some type of "good" fat along with any sugar they may want to eat. It helps slow the metabolism process of the sugar down to help prevent the insulin response. It is insulin that makes you store fat, not fat itself Insulin is what carries the fat, excess carbohydrates and protein to the fat-storage areas. This fact is proven by the number of people who live on "fat-free" foods and are extremely overweight.
Fat is just as important as carbohydrates and protein to your dietary life, if not more so. Fatty acids do an incredible amount in the body. They also regulate what protein and carbohydrates do. Without them you are run- fling an unwinnable race with yourself.
What types of fat are good fats? Fats found in flaxseed oil, safflower oil, extra virgin olive oil. Certain nuts in their raw forms (before cooking or heating) are good sources and tasty. Certain fish oils are recommended. Check with your local health food store for more types and for recipes to make them more enjoyable.