Why Do We Need Fats And Why Do We Need Fats In Our Diet? Go Ahead And Enjoy It!

A lot of us, me included, believed for a long time that fat makes us fat and that a fat-free diet and a low-fat/non-fat diet is a good thing. I posit there’s a fly in that ointment. There’s more to it than meets the eye. So why do we need fats and why do we need fats in our diet? I will explain why we need fat.

Am I suggesting that we should eat as much fat as we want as often as we like?

Absolutely not!

Calories

The first thing that is important to understand is that all calories are comprised of one or more of three components:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Protein
  3. Fat

A gram of carbohydrates and a gram of protein contain 4 calories each. A gram of fat contains 9 calories.

As a result, fat has gotten a bad rap over the years and has been considered the outlaw of nutrition.

But wait, there’s more.

Different types

Not all fats were created equal even though they all have the same caloric value. There are 3 kinds of fat:

  1. Saturated-often considered bad fat
  2. Mono-saturated-often considered better than saturated
  3. Unsaturated/poly-unsaturated-often considered good fat

Notice what’s missing? Trans-fat!

Saturated fat is actually subdivided into two categories:

  1. CIS fat
  2. Trans-fat

I won’t delve into the specifics of the above two other than to say it has to do with the DNA and the chemical make-up of the fat.

I will also say that both are natural, at least that’s the way it started.

The problem is, the trans-fat we have learned to despise, which has become the so-called black sheep and the creator of all kinds of health problems, which it is, is man-made and not natural.

Again, I will not launch into the specifics of that process other than to say it was created by the process of hydrogenation in 1901 by a German chemist who later sold the patent to Proctor & Gamble, who developed the first known product to contain hydrogenated oil-Crisco.

Hence, as a result, has created a long list of misunderstanding and misuse which has pretty much single-handedly given fat a bad name.

However, the misunderstanding took on a whole new dimension in the 1980′s. We are experiencing the fallout from that misunderstanding today.

Why do we need fats?

It is a basic component of a balanced diet.

Imagine anything that requires three components to operate or perform at optimum levels. What happens if you eliminate, reduce, or alter one of the components?

The best way I know how to explain it is, if our bodies are like an engine, which in a way they are:

  • Carbohydrates (by the way there are different kinds of carbohydrates too. Carbs as they have come to be known as have also gotten a bad name) are the fuel we burn and serves like the gasoline that powers the engine.
  • Protein is like the octane in that gasoline and is what provides the so-called muscle to the gasoline or that increases the horsepower of the engine.
  • Fat is the lubricant that serves like the motor oil in our car’s engine.

I realize this is an over-simplified description and there is way more to it, but I hope it gets the point across.

Having said that, what happens if we have too much gasoline? What happens if there is too much horsepower for a particular engine? Have you ever seen what happens to an engine that has no oil in it?

That’s why we need fat. It serves as a lubricant to our system. It aids in digestion and it serves a purpose. I don’t need to go into the specifics but it does serve a purpose.

Do you still need to ask why do we need fats and why do we need fats in our diet or does this help clear it up?

Balanced diet

There are charts and theories about what makes a diet balanced. I won’t adamantly opine for or against any of them, nor will I debate the issue. All I will say is that we are all different and there is not a one-size-fits-all. There are many factors to consider.

However, what I believe and what I’ve been doing for years, and most of all what works for me, is the following ratio for my caloric intake:

  • Carbohydrates-50-60% (heavy on certain complex carbs and easy on the simple carbs)
  • Protein-10-20% (all kinds, including meat, dairy, nuts and wherever it comes from)
  • Fat-30% (as close to equal amounts of all 3 types-absolutely no man-made trans-fat)

Remember there are more than twice the amount of calories in fat than the carbs and protein.

The variances depend on my level of physical activity among other factors.

The important thing is to avoid empty calories and eat as much nutrient-rich food (minerals and vitamins et al) in optimum amounts as is possible.

Furthermore, I try to eat organic as much as possible, because I believe it is safer, although it may or may not be more nutritious.

Any way you look at it, it’s important to consume the proper amount of calories relevant to the amount of calories we burn. The richer the calories, the more bang for your buck, so to speak.

Read labels. Learn what is best for you.

One of my favorites

Although I wouldn’t recommend this every day, one of my favorite treats is to cook two eggs (over hard) in olive oil, make a sandwich out of two pieces of buttered (real butter) toast (gluten-free) with melted cheese on each piece of toast. If I have avocados, I also add half an avocado.

Whatever oil remains in the pan after cooking, I pour over the melted cheese.

Yes it makes for a greasy sandwich, but it is it ever good!

When I’m done, there is nothing left but crumbs. I mop up the oil that has dripped with the toast.

Go ahead. Enjoy the fat.

What do you think?

Please leave comments or questions about this article.

Why do we need fats and why do we need fats in our diet?

Perhaps you have a better explanation about why we need fat.

Perhaps you have an opposing view.

I will respond to all questions and comments.