UNDERSTANDING DIETARY FATS FOR ATHLETES
There is a great misconception that fats are not as beneficial as carbs and proteins for athletes. However, this is not the case. Fats have equal advantages, as carbohydrates and proteins have. If carbs serve as an instant energy source for the athlete, fats provide backup energy to the body of an athlete. Fats are essential for athletes because they maintain the body weight, provide energy storage, insulation, and assist multiple body functions, which are necessary to maximize the training.
Why do athletes need fat is a leading question these days? The answer to this question is quite simple. Carbohydrates are fast energy suppliers, but in long marathon training, this fast source goes to the depletion point. At this point, if your body has enough fat sources, you will smoothly complete the training without being fatigued. However, if you are fat deficient, you will soon get tired. So, it means that fats are also highly crucial for you if you have prolonged and high-intensity training.
Fats are also significant because they provide fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K and essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6, which are not produced in the body. However, they are fundamental, especially for bone health and other body functions. Another thing to note is that fats provide almost 9kcal/g, which is double the carbohydrates.
HOW MUCH FAT DO ATHLETES NEED & WHEN TO HAVE:
As it is clear, that why do athletes need fats? Now, the next question is; how much fats do athletes need? The answer is pretty interesting. Fat consumption for athletes and non-athletes is similar. That is almost 30% of the total calories. However, keep in mind that fat intake should be avoided just before and after the workout because they are slow-digesting compounds and require double time to digest compared to other macronutrients. So, take them in the last meal at night after the training because they will get enough time to digest and settle in your body as a surplus energy source.
CATEGORIES OF FATS:
Generally, fats are divided into four categories which are as follows:
- Saturated fats
- Trans fats
- Mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)
- Poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
Out of these four, the first two are considered as bad fats because they increase the bad cholesterol LDL in the body and increase the risk of heart diseases. However, the last two fats are termed good fats because they increase the good cholesterol HDL in the body and supports brain functioning.
SOURCES OF MUFA AND PUFA:
As we know that MUFA and PUFA are good fatty acids, so you should incorporate them into your diet to get good bone health (because of vitamin D and K) and more energy sources. The energy sources for MUFA and PUFA are described in the following section:
Natural foods like milk, nuts, red meat, avocado olives, sunflower oil 85% MUFA
Olive oil 75% MUFA
Peanut butter, peanut, walnut, oil of avocado and olive, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
WEIGHT GAIN AND DIETARY FAT RELATIONSHIP:
After reading the above-written text, one might ask that are Fats associated with weight gain? The answer to this question is that fats are not the cause of weight gain. Weight gain is concerned with an excess of calorie intake despite the source from which they are coming. So if you take fats in the required amount, they will do nothing with your weight gain.
For more information about carbohydrates and proteins, check out our previous article and find out how much carbs and protein are essential for you? https://upperclimb.in/blogs/news/nutrient-timing-and-its-importance-for-athletes