What are the Best Sources of Fat?
The best sources of fat are from pastured eggs, bone marrow, pastured lard, avocados, pastured butter, ghee, brie, gouda, nuts, seeds, extra virgin coconut oil and extra virgin non-filtered, cold pressed olive oil. From a culinary standpoint, fat is the difference between a meal tasting fantastic or completely bland. From an athletic standpoint, fat not only provides an energy source, but it is what makes your hormones work, feel satiety, prevent sugar cravings and helps keep your glycogen reserves from being tapped too early in the game. When you don’t have fat in meal, food is digested too quickly leads to low blood sugar. Chronic low blood sugar fuels the desire for sugar and excess carbohydrates in the body’s attempt to bring it back up quickly. This is when your energy levels get in trouble and your ability to focus becomes comprised.
How Much Fat Should Men Eat?
For optimal testosterone levels, fat intake should be roughly 40% of your caloric intake. Therefore if your total caloric intake is 2500 calories, 1000 of those calories should be from animal fat, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds should be included in different proportions in every meal. Fat will make you feel satisfied and keep you full longer while promoting optimal testosterone levels. Stay away from low-fat and high fiber diets, which will deplete your testosterone, muscle, ambition, focus and confidence.
Read my article on optimizing testosterone here.
How Much Fat Should Women Eat?
Women are more complicated when it comes to determine fat and fiber intake. Fat is obviously important for hormones and reproductive health, but high estrogen and low progesterone levels play a major role in deciding if more fiber rich vegetables or fat is needed. In our xenoestrogenic environment, I continually see estrogen dominance and low progesterone. It is my experience that women in general tend to best on moderate amounts of animal fat, a higher intake of eggs, and moderate amounts of butter, ghee, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Fiber is more important for women due to bringing high estrogen levels down and regulating digestion for proper detoxification. Higher fiber increases the sex hormone binding globulin (SHGB) to help estrogen meet its target. I have attached a chart I created to help provide what you can do dietarily to balance estrogen and progesterone.
Fat should be included with each meal. Instead of trying to rely on percentages in your diet, use common sense. This isn’t the case with carbohydrates where the signal isn’t sent to your brain to stop eating and you can easily eat too many. Like protein, you call only eat so much fat before your body tells you to stop. It will range from athlete to athlete, sport to sport. For example, your fat source may be avocado or guacamole with protein bowl, grass-fed cheese on your burger or pesto sauce on your salmon. If you find yourself running into low blood sugar throughout the day, add more fat to your meals and snacks.
What about Low-Fat and Non-Fat Food?
The low-fat diet craze was a combination of poor research and deceptive corporate greed. If saturated fat in butter is bad for you, then a company must create a fake, cheap to manufactured butter resembling plastic to take its place. If cholesterol in eggs will kill you, then a company must promote high carbohydrate, sugary cheap to manufacture cereal to take its place for breakfast.
The fact of the matter is that whole foods we have consumed for thousands of years have the lowest profit margin and become an easy target to blame. Meanwhile aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup, soy and corn oil, toxic breakfast cereal, and genetically modified foods get a pass from the FDA.
When we consume low-fat and non-fat versions of food, we are unable to absorb the extremely important vitamins A, D, E and K; all of which protect from the diseases that fat allegedly causes and are crucial for an athlete’s cardiovascular system. Grass-fed butter is a source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and important trace minerals magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium and iodine. Beta-carotene in carrots cannot be converted to vitamin A without fat, and even calcium in milk, yogurt or cottage cheese cannot be effectively absorbed. Avocados are rich sources of vitamin E, but if we stripped it of all its fat the E would become useless.
One study from Ohio State University did a salad test showing the impact of adding avocado for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. The first salad included romaine lettuce, baby spinach, shredded carrots and a non-fat dressing, resulting in a fat content of about 2%. After avocado was added, the fat content jumped to 42%. When the salad was consumed with avocado, the 11 test subjects absorbed 7 times the lutein and 18 times the beta carotene.
Lutein is a carotenoid found in many green vegetables is linked with improved eye and heart health. Research has shown that people who consume whole-fat dairy products — as opposed to their processed, lower-fat versions — were associated with lower body mass index (BMI, smaller waist circumference) and Harvard highlighted the compound, trans-palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid found in milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter that may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
The Women’s Health Initiative was a low-fat trial that enrolled 49,000 when in 1993. Everyone involved thought that the results would validate the low-fat diet. After a decade of eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while cutting back on meat and fat, the women not only failed to lose weight, but they did not lower their risk of heart disease and cancer whatsoever.
Where Can I Get Pastured Lard, Bone Marrow, Ghee and Extra Virgin Coconut Oil?
Pastured lard is actually highest in monounsaturated fat like olive oil, while providing 400IU of vitamin D per tablespoon! The best quality and pastured lard I have found is available through US Wellness Meats.
Bone marrow is a great source of choline, a nutrient that both men and women are not getting enough of. This is especially true if you are not eating eggs. You can sometimes find this in the grocery store, but make sure it comes from grass-fed animals. I order mine through US Wellness Meats.
Ghee is just the fat from butter that is gently heated to remove the casein. This means that people who are allergic or sensitive to dairy can use this. Ghee should be used for any medium to high heat cooking. Not only does it provide the highest smoke point (higher than coconut oil and lard), but a study on a rural population in India revealed a significantly lower prevalence of coronary heart disease in men who consumed higher amounts of ghee. Ghee relative to soybean oil in another study decreased the activities of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, CYP1A1, CYP1A2, CYP1B1 and CYP2B1 – responsible for the dangerous activation of carcinogens in liver when increased – and upregulates carcinogen detoxification activities in liver and breast tissues. A fat that detoxifies!
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is very unique in that it can be used for the skin, hair, cooking, as a quick pre-workout source of energy, used safely by those with missing gallbladders, increases HDL and has anti-viral, anti-microbial and immune boosting compounds. The coconut tree is by far one of the greatest gifts to mankind. What you are looking for with coconut oil is that it is organic, extra virgin, in a glass jar, not hydrogenated and chemicals are not used in the process of the oil. This particular product uses the traditional methods of processing, maintaining the integrity and quality of the oil.