Macronutrients – part 3: High fat for high performance

nutrition-and-productivity-blog-7

Fats (the good ones) don’t make you fat

I eat a high fat diet (around 50-70% of my macros) and cannot put on weight. I don’t count calories, but if I did, I’m pretty sure my calorific intake would exceed the recommended daily amount of 2,500 calories for men by a good chunk of fat. I eat a diet high in saturated fats, omega 3s and mono-unsaturated fats.

In the previous 2 blogs in this series you got an overview of the 3 macro-nutrients and the different types within each category. In this blog I’ll explain why I choose a high fat diet for better energy levels and cognitive performance.

There’s more to the equation than calories in – calories out

I’ve mentioned before that a calorie is not just a calorie – the body deals with calories in different ways. Fructose is a sugar, but it get’s metabolised differently from glucose – it gets sent first to the liver where it gets converted then to glycogen and fats1. Even glucose get’s metabolised differently depending on the blood sugar level. When blood-glucose level is low, it goes straight to work in energy production. When blood-glucose is high it gets converted to fats and stored in the adipose tissue2.

Caprylic fatty acids (C8), a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) gets digested and metabolised differently than other longer chain fats – it goes straight to the liver via the hepatic portal where it gets converted to ketones. The ketones then either get burnt for energy through ketosis3 or get excreted through the urine.

Even within fats and sugars themselves, there are different metabolism pathways for the different types of fats or sugars and these lead to different outcomes for the type of calorie: they can be used as energy straight away, they can be stored as fat or they could be metabolised by the liver. This demonstrates that there’s more to the calorie in-out approach. Also – with the simple calories in / out approach, there’s no consideration of nutritional impact on hormones, mitochondrial function and much more.

The benefits of high fat

Eating the right fats gets your body into ketosis (see above) – ketosis, the fat burning mode. This and other properties lead to many benefits.

  • stable energy levels4
  • keeps the mitochondria (these are the powerhouses that provide the bodies energy) healthy4
  • Keeps you lean – in a state of ketosis, insulin levels are low – as a result stored fats get used for energy
  • improved brain function5
  • Fats are essential in hormone production. Hormonal balance is necessary for overall well being and energy levels6.
  • Cell membranes are made up of fats – when they are made up of the right fats, the cells in the body fit alongside each other much better and function much better. Having bad fats within the cell membranes disrupt the form and function of the cell and the cells don’t fit so snugly together6.
  • The brain is made up of 60-70% fat. Getting the right mix omega 3s to omega 6s boosts brain structure and therefore brain power7.
  • Eating good fats promotes a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Gut bacteria are often an often overlooked factor in well being8,9.
  • Fats aid absorption of key nutrients (particularly fat soluble nutrients such as vitamin K and D)10. Blending a mix of seasonal vegetables with butter or ghee from grass fed cows, with added salt and spice makes a simple, nutritious and tasty side dish.
  • Fats, combined with protein help to satiate11.

In the next in the series we look at why you should keep carbs low and eat moderate protein.

In the mean time… keep hustling.

Paddy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave me a comment below.

If you are interested in trying out a FREE 7-day meal plan you can grab a copy of that here. Just add your details and we’ll get that over to you. 

 

References

1.http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/4/895.full#fn-1 ‘How bad is fructose?’

2.http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/17/3/183 ‘Glucose metabolism and regulation: beyond insulin and glucagon’

3.http://www.jbc.org/content/246/4/1149.full.pdf ‘The Regulation of Ketogenesis from Octanoic Acid’

4.http://drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Ketogenic_diet_-_a_connection_between_mitochondria_and_diet ‘Ketogenic diet – a connection between mitochondria and diet’

5.https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201104/your-brain-ketones ‘Your brain on ketones’

6.http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/family-nutrition/facts-about-fats/why-you-need-fats ‘Why you need fats’

7.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20329590 ‘Essential fatty acids and human brain.’

8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26505825 ‘Two Healthy Diets Modulate Gut Microbial Community Improving Insulin Sensitivity in a Human Obese Population.’

9.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/how-to-fix-your-gut-bacte_b_9318312.html ‘How to Fix Your Gut Bacteria and Lose Weight’

10.http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20040727/fat-helps-vegetables-go-down#2 ‘A little fat helps the vegetables go down’

11.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22556143 – ‘Effects of fat, protein, and carbohydrate and protein load on appetite, plasma cholecystokinin, peptide YY, and ghrelin, and energy intake in lean and obese men.’

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