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How Do Fats Impact Your Weight Loss Program?

Fat Facts
Take the Challenge!

Fat information is essential for the success of any weight loss program. This page explains what fats are, how our body uses them, and how they fit into our daily nutritional balance. We will also take a look at the different types of fats, and provide the necessary information on each type.

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After reading this information, try taking our "fat facts challenge", which consists of answering the following question:
In a nutshell, which are the most damaging foods for a weight loss program?
Yes, you can recognize these at a glance. It's as simple as that. Want to know how? Keep on reading!

Based on how they affect our health, fats can be classified summarily into GOOD FATS and BAD FATS. In order to stay in control of our diet, it is essential to learn to recognize these types of fats in daily life situations.

Here are two BASIC FAT RULES to start with:

  1. Any fats that are detrimental to our health will also be detrimental to a weight loss program. In other words, consumption of such fats will predispose to weight gain and obesity.
  2. On the other hands, fats that are beneficial for our health are also believed to facilitate weight loss. These types of fats (mainly unsaturated fats) can be of value in a weight loss program - provided, of course, appropriate portion sizes are respected.

The Definition of Fats:
Fats are a heterogeneous group of chemical compounds, characterized by their lack of solubility in water. We will proceed by reviewing the different categories of fats which play an important role (either positive or negative) in our nutrition.

Fat Facts - Good & Bad Fats
The Main Types of Fats are as follows:

  1. Saturated Fats (containing saturated fatty acids) - these are all BAD FATS

  2. Unsaturated Fats (containing unsaturated fatty acids), with the following subcategories:
    • Monounsaturated Fats (containing fatty acids with one double bond in their molecule) - these are largely GOOD FATS
    • Polyunsaturated Fats (containing fatty acids with multiple double bonds). Among the polyunsaturated fats, the following categories are of interest:
    • Trans Fats (which are industrially processed unsaturated fats) - these are all VERY BAD FATS (in fact, "killer fats" would be the right term)

  3. Cholesterol, with the following categories:
    • HDL cholesterol (high density cholesterol, also called "good cholesterol")
    • LDL cholesterol (low density cholesterol, also called "bad cholesterol")
    • VLDL cholesterol (a cholesterol fraction of lower density than LDL, with similar detrimental effects on the body)
    • Chilomicrons (complex particles which, in addition to cholesterol, contain proteins and triglycerides) - these are largely BAD FATS.

Note: Triglycerides are simply combinations of fatty acids and glycerol. (Glycerol is a relatively simple molecule which offers 3 binding spots for fatty acids, and as such can bind up to 3 molecules of fatty acids).
Since glycerol can combine with both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, the term "triglycerides" can technically refer to both saturated and unsaturated fats. However, in the medical vernacular, the term "triglycerides" is mainly used to describe saturated fats (BAD FATS).

To find out more about each type of fat described on this page, follow the links above.

Fat Facts
The Role of Fats in the Human Body

Most types of fats fulfill important body functions:
  • They are part of cellular membrane structures
  • They serve as precursors for the formation of steroid hormones, such as cortisol, estrogen and testosterone
  • They act as a fuel source when the body needs extra energy: The breakdown of 1 gram of fat furnishes approximately 9 kilocalories - which is double the amount furnished by proteins and carbohydrates.

The above being said, should fats be a part of a balanced daily diet?
The answer to this question is yes, but a very "conditional" yes. In fact, there are very few fats that must be brought into the body by our diet. These are the essential fatty acids, (called 'essential' because our body cannot produce them by itself). Some of the omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids fall in this category, and must be supplied via food intake. Apart from that, however, our body has a great capacity of producing the fats it needs. In the absence of high level physical activity, it does not require any significant amount of dietary fat.

Unfortunately, the regular Western diet provides an over-abundance of fat products, most with a negative impact on our health. Therefore, the recommendation is to eat as little as possible of the following fat types:

  • Saturated Fats
  • Cholesterol
  • Trans Fats

Consumption of these fats has been blamed for atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, blood clots in the deep veins of the legs, and certain types of cancer.

More Fat Facts
Learn more about the different Types of Fats:

Take the "Fat Facts Challenge":

Can you answer this question?
In a nutshell, which are the most damaging foods for a weight loss program?

In all fairness, you should know this page provided only one piece of the puzzle. To find out more, follow the link above.


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