Measuring Your Macros: Fats | How to Include Healthy Fats in Your Diet
It's time for ROUND 2 of Measuring Your Macros! I love this series because tracking macronutrients has made such a huge difference in my own eating habits and fitness journey, so I am extra excited to dive deeper into each individual macro. In my last post about macros, we covered carbs. This time we are focusing on... FATS.
Before we get in to fats: let's do a quick recap of what a macronutrient even is.
So, what even IS a macro?
"Macro" is actually short for "macronutrient." There are two types of nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients.
MACROnutrients are broken down in to three categories: fat, carbs, and protein. A lot of times people who count macros are following a specific percentage ratio of each of these three groups to achieve a certain fitness goal and hit a certain number of calories each day. Fat, carbs, and protein all provide the body with energy (calories). Depending on what you are wanting to achieve, you may adjust your fat, carb, and protein intake accordingly to put the body in a caloric deficit or a caloric surplus.
MICROnutrients are the vitamins and minerals the body needs to survive and these are only required in small amounts for overall wellness and health. A few examples of a micronutrient are vitamin A, biotin, vitamin B6, folic acid, etc.
For this series, I am going to focus on macronutrients because these are the nutrients that contribute to your daily calorie intake.
Each macro has a different caloric density per gram:
Fat: 9 cal/gram
Carbs: 4 cal/gram
Protein: 4 cal/gram
The graphic above shows 6 servings of different foods, all of which contain around 15 grams of fat. ALL have different calorie counts and macro/micro breakdowns and satisfy the body in different ways. If you are a savory person, you might opt for the avocado. If you are more of a sweet person, you may choose the spoonful of peanut butter. For me, avocados and peanut butter are two of my go-to sources for healthy fats. You can even make the avocado sweet by mixing it with cocoa powder to make chocolate pudding or a nutella spread! CLICK HERE to get the recipes.
That being said: there are different kinds of fats found in different foods. The four categories are:
1. Saturated fat
2. Trans fat
3. Monounsaturated fat
4. Polyunsaturated fat
It can be kind of confusing when you are reading a nutrition label and you see "fat" broken down in to smaller sub categories, right?
If you have ever looked at a label and thought: what does this even mean? Which category of "fat" is good for me, and which should I try to avoid? You are not alone!
Fats have gotten a bit of a bad rep and a lot of people have the misconception that EATING foods high in fat will make your body STORE fat - when the exact opposite can be true if you are consuming the right types & amount. Foods like avocados, mixed nuts, flax seed, etc. are high in unsaturated fats, help promote nutrient absorption, give you energy, and are NEEDED by the body in order for it to function properly.
Monounsaturated fats and Polyunsaturated fats are the "good for you" fats. They usually come from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and some fish (like salmon). Within polyunsaturated fats we have omega-3s and omega-6s, both of which support a healthy heart.
Saturated fats are found in red meats and dairy products. Eating too much saturated fat may put you at risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes (CLICK HERE to read a full article detailing these risks on Healthline). A lot of the foods we eat are high in saturated fats - and we may not even realize it! Pizza, cheeseburgers, chips and queso, and even creamy mac 'n cheese (yep, sorry to break it to you) are all high in saturated fats.
Last: trans fats. Have you ever read an ingredient list and come across "partially hydrogenated oils"? Yep, that's code for: artificially produced oils that have had hydrogen added to liquid vegetable oil to make it more solid at room temperature.
Sorry to get all scientific on you guys: but ew.
This is the worst kind of fat you can put in your body and can lead to an increased risk of heart disease (check out this article on Mayo Clinic if you want to learn more - it is SUPER interesting).
Foods that are high in trans fats:
- snack cakes
- potato chips
- packaged cookies
- french fries
- cinnamon rolls
Choosing the right kinds of fats to include in my diet made a world of a difference in my energy levels, fitness progress, hair and skin, and all around satisfaction after a meal. Some vitamins are fat soluble - meaning they can only be absorbed by the body when consumed with a fat source. I always try to include a serving of healthy fats with all of my meals.
A few of my favorite foods that are great healthy fat sources:
- nut butters
- mixed nuts
- olive oil
- ground flax seed
- chia seeds
- coconut flour
- coconut oil
- avocado oil
- cocoa powder
I am so excited to continue this "Measuring Your Macros" series here on the blog and on my Instagram @samanthabowers_. I think photos like the main one above are so effective to put serving sizes into perspective. If you read this post, go leave a comment on my latest Instagram photo and tell me what YOU want to know about macros! What have you always wondered, what are you confused about, and what would you like to see covered in the next post?
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