Are you afraid to eat fat? Well, you shouldn’t be. Healthy fats provide a wide array of health benefits, up to and including more efficient fat loss. We need adequate fat to support metabolism, cell signaling, the health of various body tissues, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many nutrients (such as vitamins A and D). They help reduce inflammation in the body, improve brain and eye function, and keep us satisfied. Most of the time, they also taste great.
And when looking to lose bodyfat, we must think about our overall health. The brain function, reduced inflammation, cell signaling, and other metabolic functions all contribute to the fat loss puzzle.
Here are our top six sources of fat that are replete with all the muscle-building, fat-burning, and health benefits that you could ever hope for.
The fattier the fish, the better. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout are full of omega-3 fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association, people should eat at least two servings of fatty fish per week to help balance out their fatty acid ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. Not to mention all of the other health benefits from the DHA and EPA, two essential nutrients found in fish that provide an array of benefits, such as reduced inflammation to recover from your workouts and sore joints, making it much easier to continue training the way you need to in order to support fat loss.
This fat is the best discovery since butter. Or bacon (which is not good for you). While grass-fed butter is great and provides a lot of benefits, coconut oil is an instant upgrade and for numerous reasons. It goes great with anything and can be used for cooking and spreading just like butter. Studies have shown that intake of coconut oil can boost resistance to both viruses and bacteria that can cause illness that can sideline you from your high-intensity regimen. Even more, it also can help to fight off yeast, fungus, and candida. If you don’t think that is beneficial, just ask yourself how much fat you stand to burn when you are lethargic and/or sick? Hormones are a physique athlete’s best friend and coconut oil positively affects our hormones for thyroid and blood sugar control—two very critical hormones for fat loss. Lastly, coconut oil has a saturated fat called lauric acid, a type of medium chain triglyceride (MCT) that does not store as fat and is a great source of energy.
Olive oil reduces the risk of heart disease, blood pressure and certain types of cancer. A recent study published in Neurology found that cooking with heat-healthy olive oil and using it for salad dressing may cut stroke risk. Talk about some good brain food. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to help people lose fat without really changing any other part of their lifestyle or diet. So imagine what it can do for hard-training individuals.
When dieting for a competition, or to get as lean as possible, avocados provide some great flavor and variety to any chicken and broccoli dish without devastating your diet. It is loaded with monounsaturated fat, the heart healthy kind that lowers bad cholesterol and helps your body burn more fat (see No. 3). Avocados are also a perfect substitute to dips that don’t provide much nutrition.
How many times have you thrown the egg yolk down the drain in pursuit of a leaner physique? Too many, no doubt. This is a mistake of the gravest order, as the egg yolk is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, choline, and other nutrients that help regulate the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system. Although claims persist that the cholesterol in eggs is bad for you, research has linked moderate egg consumption to improved heart health. Not to mention that the cholesterol in eggs can help improve testosterone production, which plays a huge role in strength performance and fat loss. Plus, whole eggs can help to promote satiety and research has shown that consuming a breakfast of eggs can prevent the kind of midday binges that can sabotage fat loss.
Your best bet for nutrition is almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, walnuts contain plant based omega-3 fatty acids, and pistachios have lutein and zeaxanthin, all carotenoids that are important for eye health. Research shows that regular nut eaters are generally leaner, less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and have a reduced risk of heart disease. Nut butter is beneficial as well—if you can keep yourself from eating the whole jar, of course. Just watch out for the added sugars in some brands. Nut butter is an ideal small snack when dieting because it’s calorie-rich and provides a modest dose of protein.
BY JUSTIN GRINNELL, CSCS