Written by: Lea Crosetti
When you think of fat, what do you think of? Greasy foods? Clogged arteries? Love handles? Often times, we have a negative connotation of fats and some have scrutinized over each gram consumed for years. But word is getting out about the health benefits of some fats and why you should include them at every meal, especially if you are an athlete.
As athletes, we use a lot of energy. Although our bodies’ preferred energy source is carbohydrates, fat is often used as an additional source, especially at lower intensity levels. Depending on what you are training for, fat can help an athlete meet their high calorie demand.
After a heavy workout or a race, inflammation in the body increases to aid in the recovery process. We usually encourage not taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID: advil, ibprofin, motrin) because it can interfere with recovery. However, the lower amounts found naturally in foods have been shown to be beneficial to the athlete without impairing the recovery process. Certain fats, such as monounsaturated and omega 3 fats, have anti-inflammatory effects. Dr Weils has a great food pyramid promoting an anti-inflammatory diet: http://www.drweil.com/drw/ecs/pyramid/press-foodpyramid.html. Good sources of monounsaturated fats include; olive oil, canola oil, avocado, and nuts. Most people know fish as a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, however, flax, soy and walnuts also contain some omega 3s.
Although some fats have anti-inflammatory properties, other fats can actually be pro-inflammatory and promote plaque formation in your arteries. Such fats include saturated and trans (or partially hydrogenated oils). The fat found in meats, poultry, and dairy are saturated. Most of the trans fats that are consumed are coming from more processed foods. It is recommended to limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats due to the negative effects on our overall health. Thankfully there are leaner meats and low fat dairy available that are healthier options if you don’t want to cut these foods out completely.
Here are some tips to help increase the healthy fats and reduce those that are less healthy:
• For Breakfast:
o Swap the butter or margarine for a natural peanut butter on toast
o Sprinkle a teaspoon of ground flax to your cereal or oatmeal
• For Lunch:
o Spread hummus or pesto on sandwiches instead of mayo
o Also, leave the cheese out of those sandwiches and add in the avocado
• For Dinner:
o Try one meatless meal a week and incorporate tofu or soy
o Have a fatty fish two times a week and limit the red meat to once every two weeks or less
• For Snacks:
o Grab trailmix instead of chips
o Create a new smoothie with soymilk and flax in it
For More Information on Lea Crosetti and her nutrition services CLICK HERE