Fat has a bad reputation in regards to your diet. Just as there are healthy sugars and unhealthy sugars, so are there unhealthy fats and healthy fats. Consuming the right dietary fats doesn’t mean that you automatically become fat. The body needs certain fats to function optimally, as healthy fats comprise a portion of the foundation of a healthy body.
The reason that people love to hate on fats is because of the popular low-fat craze during the 1980s and 1990s. That is no longer the case, especially with the popularity of the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic and paleo diets. People who don’t subscribe to high-fat diets may or may not fulfill the recommended daily intake of healthy fats. Ideally, each person should aim for 30-35% of daily caloric intake to come from fat. People are afraid of fat, though, and fat-free products (despite being incredibly high in sodium) are very popular because they are marketed as health conscious choices.
Why Do You Need Fat In Your Diet?
The body uses fat for many biological processes. In fact, you would not be able to live a healthy life without it. For example, fat assists the body with vitamin absorption. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning that the body can only absorb them when consumed along with fat. Certain fats like omega-3 fatty acids work to support optimal brain and eye function. The body doesn’t make these essential fats, so it is your responsibility to get them via your diet. Additionally, fats are an excellent source of energy, providing the body with nine calories of energy per every gram of fat. Compare that to one gram of carbohydrate or protein, both of which only yield four calories of energy.
Ideally, you should focus your efforts on consuming healthy fats. Healthy fats are monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). Omega-3 fatty acids fall under the PUFA umbrella, and they help to regulate mood, heart health, brain function, and happiness. MUFAs may help to reduce bad cholesterol and increase the amount of good cholesterol. Basically, these essential fats are good for head-to-toe health, and you know that you need more in your diet if you notice the following signs.
Your Joints Ache
Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain the structural integrity of every cell in the body. Studies show that low levels of omega-3s contribute to loss of flexibility and joint mobility. The reason for this is because omega-3s help control inflammation in joints. The more inflammation that accumulates in the body, the more likely your joints will ache because of limited movement.
Your Energy Is Low
The heart gets 70% of its fuel from fat because it contains energy. As we mentioned earlier, one gram of fat provides nine calories. That means that there are more calories in an avocado than in an apple. If you feel sluggish or like your energy tank is low, you probably are not eating enough fats. Limiting fat intake reduces your overall caloric intake, which results in sluggish movements and general fatigue.
You Have Trouble Concentrating
The brain is 60% fat, so it requires fat in order to run efficiently. When you consume foods that contain monounsaturated fatty acids, you increase the production of acetylocholine, a neurotransmitter. Acetylocholine is necessary for learning and memory processing. One study found insufficient fat consumption, specifically omega-3 consumption, increases the risk of cognitive impairment. Maintain the structural integrity of the brain and help increase concentration by keeping up with your fat intake.
You Are Always Hungry
Fat helps to increase the feeling of satiety because it slows the digestion of food. It provides more calories than carbohydrates and protein, both of which the body uses up very quickly. If you experience a ravenous hunger shortly after you eat, consider adding an extra source of fat to your meal. Avocados, nuts, seeds, or wild-caught fish provide healthy fats that help you feel full for a lot longer.
Your Skin Is Inexplicably Dry
If it isn’t the weather or lack of moisturizer, what is the cause of dry skin? Like many problems with the body, diet often plays an integral role. All of the skin’s cells are enclosed in a protective bubble of fats, which aim to protect the skin from drying out. These fats also help keep out harmful substances from the environment. A diet low in fat can reduce skin barrier function, leaving your skin more prone to dryness, or even eczema in severe cases.