If you are an athlete but still unsure about the need for fat, here are 5 reasons that will convince you that vegetable fats should be included in the diet:
1. Fight inflammation and prevent it
The most important benefit of vegetable fats is that they act as a lubricant for joints, ligaments, arteries, and cells. They reduce the likelihood of inflammation in the arteries, brain, cells, heart; even reduce stress. Many athletes eat fish to provide the body with omega-3 acids that reduce inflammation in the body. But it is important to understand that for these purposes, in fact, neither salmon nor mackerel is needed. Fish get their omega-3s from algae, and we too can get them directly from algae, as well as chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Vegetable fats do not contain cholesterol – on the contrary, they contain raw nutrients obtained directly from the bowels of the Earth. And yes, even saturated fats, when sourced from plant sources (cocoa, coconut), are still good for lowering blood pressure and raising triglycerides.
2. More energy
When the body does not get enough calories from proteins, carbohydrates and fats, fatigue quickly sets in. This condition is easily prevented by eating foods containing fatty acids. Our body is very smart, it literally screams at us about its problems, you just need to learn to listen to it.
If you get enough rest, but look tired all the time, you may find that you just do not have enough calories from healthy fats. First, make sure you don’t consume refined sugars and flours, which promote inflammation and spike blood sugar levels, leading to mood swings. Also, make sure you’re eating protein, carbs, and healthy fats (even in small amounts) with every meal. Add some vegetable fats from raw foods to your diet and feel the difference!
Vegetable fats are also needed to get a feeling of satiety. Fats take longer to digest than protein and carbohydrates and contain more calories (9 grams versus 4 in carbohydrates and protein). They help maintain blood sugar levels and avoid pressure drops during exercise.
4. Nutrient absorption
Everyone needs nutrients, and athletes are no exception. Many of the valuable nutrients are fat-soluble, which means they simply cannot be absorbed without fat. These are vitamins A, D, E, K. Therefore, in order to get the maximum benefit from food, vegetable fats must be included in the diet. Almost all greens are rich in vitamins A and K. Mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, and avocados, nuts and seeds are a natural source of vitamin E, which keeps arteries healthy and skin beautiful.
5. Muscle strengthening
Despite the persistent belief that muscles are built only from protein, this is not entirely true. In reality, proteins, fats and carbohydrates together build muscle mass. Imagine that your body is (ideally) a well-oiled machine. Whether you’re building muscle, endurance, or strength, make sure you’re eating some healthy fats before every workout. Your muscle cells will thank you and you will build muscle in less time than if you avoided fat altogether. Fat, in addition, speeds up the metabolism, although many expect it to have the opposite effect.
Here’s a great pre-workout snack: Mix 1/3 cup oatmeal with 1 tablespoon chia seeds and 1 tablespoon raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, or walnuts, fresh or frozen cherries, cinnamon, and stevia (if you want it sweeter). Add some “non-dairy” milk to spice up this healthy porridge.
What not to eat with healthy fats
When choosing healthy fats, avoid refined oils. Instead, eat whole sources of fat that contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Remember: any whole food containing fiber is much better at promoting muscle gain and weight loss. For example, for vegetable fats, choose avocados, almonds, and olives over oils from these foods, and coconut meat over coconut oil. If you tolerate oils well, that’s great, but in any case, don’t forget whole foods.
Also avoid high glycemic carbohydrates such as white rice, cookies, dried fruits with added sugar, white flour crackers, all of which can cause weight gain. Choose healthy carbohydrate sources: legumes, whole grains (quinoa, barley, oatmeal, wild rice), fresh fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens.
Athlete or not, fats are necessary in any case. Always choose pure, whole, plant-based foods over animal-based foods, which are cholesterol-free but rich in vitamins and minerals. Like all other nutrients, fats should be an essential part of a balanced diet.