Facts about Fat

IMG_3772You can ride a bike fast, chase people up hills so by default you are healthy – maybe carrying a few extra pounds but you can ride so you must be in better shape than your average Jo.

Not necessarily – If your diet has a lot of the ‘bad’ stuff and not so much of the good, your insides might not be in as good a shape as you think.

Fats are mobilised predominantly during low to moderate intensity exercise or if you are working so hard you have depleted your glucose stores; they are also used when fasting and if you are suffering from the cold.

The three most well-known types of fat are saturated fat, unsaturated fat and cholesterol. The body naturally makes enough cholesterol sufficient for its needs without adding in additional cholesterol derived from a poor diet.

Additional cholesterol in the diet is derived from saturated fat – LDL cholesterol (big bad thing) and is in your “tasty foods” including crisps, chocolate, fried food, cakes and processed foods. Your LDL level is also increased when you consume too much red meat or dairy products (another bad thing). These all contribute to causing harmful effects on the body, greatly increasing fatty (adipose) tissue in the body and having a particularly negative effect on circulation (lots of bad things).

Circulation includes all of your blood vessels; LDL’s (the bad things) cause damage to the walls of the vessels particularly your arteries. This causes plaques to form which damages the vessel further and causes a narrowing of the vessel; this means less blood is able to flow through at one time making your heart work harder (even more bad things).

These LDL’s (bad things) are essentially “mopped up” by good fats; these are your unsaturated fats- HDL cholesterol (good things at last!). These are commonly found in fruit and vegetables, wholegrain foods, seeds and nuts, lean meat and oily fish and are known to have a positive effect on fat in the blood (good thing). HDL’s are able to reverse the transport of LDL’s to the arteries bringing them away from artery walls and redelivering it back to liver to be digested (another good thing). This helps to prevent narrowing of the arteries which causes untold damage (really bad thing).

Your cholesterol, and your ratio between good and bad bits can be checked at your local GP or health service and it is completely free. A healthy balanced diet should have no more than 10% of daily energy intake from saturated fats with a total consumption of fat (so including the good stuff) of 20-30%. Fat numbers are on every packet and 90g is your limit for the day.

The negative effects of too much saturated fat consumption are vast (warning! bad thing), including increased risk of cardiovascular disease – heart disease and degeneration of blood vessels. These can lead to heart attacks, angina, strokes as well as high blood pressure and increased risk of type 2 diabetes (terrible things). There are ways to combat this though (good thing). A healthy balanced diet is key to reducing your risk factors- that doesn’t mean you can’t eat any of the bad stuff it just means only eat them in moderation- and make sure you get enough of the good stuff to combat it. Riding your bike regularly will also help (good thing of course), not only will it mean you are using the fats that will reduce your risk factor it also means you will have less weight to carry around on the bike letting you go that little bit faster. (good thing for you but bad thing for the rest of us). It is suggested that 150 minutes of at least moderate intensity exercise should be completed every week to help maintain good cardiovascular health- so maybe go out and play on your bike twice this week!

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