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Energy Sources: Fats


This article continues on from Article 1 – Energy Sources


Fats are also considered to be an essential component of your diet and make up the most concentrated source of energy.

Fats provide more than twice the calories per gram when compared with carbohydrates or proteins. Fat is used as a primary source of energy. A small amount of dietary fat is required to give food flavour as well as for sources of the fat-soluble vitamins. A minimal amount of fat is also needed for growth and development.

Saturated versus Unsaturated Fats

Sources of dietary fat are provided by both plant and foods. About 95% of the fat consumed is in the form of triglycerides. Fatty acids are either saturated or unsaturated depending on their chemical nature. Unsaturated fatty acids are subdivided into monounsaturates or saturated.

It is considered that the terms satrurated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated are best used to describe the chemical nature of the fat in foods. Generally, fats containing more unsaturated fatty acids are from plants and are liquid at room temperature. Saturated fatty acids are derived mainly from animal sources.

Other Fats

The remaining 5% of fats are represented via phospholipids and sterols. Phospholipids include lecithin; cholesterol is the best known sterol. Cholesterol is consumed via animal foods, and it is not supplied via plant food sources. It is generally considered wise to limit eating foods high in cholesterol. Although needed for many body functions, it is known that the body can produce cholesterol from CHO, proteins, and particularly saturated fat. Due to this, there is no need to consume further amounts of cholesterol in the diet. The recommended daily consumption is less than 300mg per day.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids, are type of unsaturated fatty acid that serves as a protective mechanism against certain disease and hypertension. These fatty acids are found in cold-water fish. Experts do not recommend fish oil supplements as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Almost 40 to 50% of our total caloric intake is considered to be made up by dietary fat. Most of the fat is via saturated fatty acids. This intake is considered to be too much and it is thought to contribute to the high incidences of weight problems, specific cancers, and heart related problems. It has been recommended that the intake should be less than 30% of the total calories with saturated fats reduced even further to less than 10% of the total calories.

The 3rd article on Energy Sources covering PROTEINS follows

Ref: Principles of Athletic Training .. Daniel D. Arnheim William E. Prentice