Types of Fats in Foods for Bodybuilding - Good vs Bad with Examples

Types of Fat

Not all Fats are Created Equal

In taking a look at fat, it's important to understand that not all fats are evil. Fat plays a major role in many physiologic processes, from forming anabolic hormones to protecting your internal organs from damage. To regulate your fat intake, you have to separate the good from the bad, and this can be confusing, with all the advice coming at you from TV, various fitness experts and the muscle magazines (God love 'em). There are several different classifications to keep track of.

Saturated fat is known as the granddaddy of "bad" fats; it can be found in large amounts in meat, butter, milk, cheese, ice cream, chocolate, and coconut and palm oils. These fats are responsible for some pretty wicked effects in your body, such as clogged arteries.

Monounsaturated fat is the first in our category of "good" fats. It is found primarily in olive oil, canola oil, avocados and peanuts. These fats are regarded as better for you than saturated fats because their unique molecular structure keeps them from readily forming arterial plaque.

Polyunsaturated fats are another "good" group. These fats are actually important for your health; they are used as building blocks for creating cell membranes. Linoleic (omega-6, found in safflower and certain other vegetable oils) and linolenic (omega-3, found in mackerel, salmon and other fish) fatty acids are very interesting, in that your body uses them to make leukotrienes and prostaglandins: These two chemicals help regulate blood flow, immune system function and airflow into your lungs.

Hydrogenated polyunsaturated fats which are man made, known as trans fatty acids. Food manufacturers bubble hydrogen polyunsaturated oil under pressure, resulting in an oil that is spreadable like butter.

The process renders these "good" fats bad for you - some nutrition experts consider them as bad as lard. Examples of hydrogenated fats are margarine and shortening. Try to avoid these when possible.

Another category of fat isconjugated linoleic acid (CLA). It's found in beef fat and all milk products except skim. It appears to be a good fat, except nature hid it in some bad places. CLA may inhibit the growth of some cancers and may actually act as an anabolic stimulator in humans, though its mechanism of action is not known.

As a bodybuilder, there are a few basic guidelines you should follow as far as your fat intake.

1. try to keep saturated fats to a minimum

2. when you do eat fat, make sure it comes from either the polyunsaturated or monounsaturated family

3. follow the American Heart Association recommendation to keep your fat intake below 30% of total calories. As a final tip, don't be overly obsessive about fat. It's a necessary part of your food intake as a bodybuilder, not only to promote good health, but also to assist gains in muscle.

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