Blog > Body > All You Need to Know: Good Fat vs. Bad Fat

All You Need to Know: Good Fat vs. Bad Fat

We have always been told that fat is bad for us1. But fried foods and potato chips aside, there are actually many different variations of it found naturally in the foods we eat.

The conventional rule of thumb to avoid all forms of fat is slowly shifting, thanks to advancing research. Experts now believe that it is not important how much if it you eat, rather what kind you eat2. Certain kinds are extremely beneficial for health, and it is impossible to live without them.

diet pill to help to reduce fat and weight

What role does Fat play in our bodies?

We get energy from fat, which is a major source of energizing fuel.

  • It helps to absorb minerals and vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E, and K
  • Are a major component of the cell membranes and the sheaths surrounding nerve fibers
  • Keeps our skin soft and provides essential fatty acids.
  • Plays a crucial role in muscle movement and blood clotting3.

But how much fat is okay? How much is too excessive? What are the kinds should we avoid?

In this article, we’ll tackle the different types of dietary fat and how they interact with your body.

Types of Dietary Fat

Unsaturated 

 

  • Monounsaturated fat is missing one (mono) hydrogen molecule on its chemical chain and is liquid at room temperature.
  • Polyunsaturated fat is missing more than one (poly) hydrogen molecule on its chemical chain and is also liquid at room temperature.
Saturated 

 

  • Saturated fat has all the hydrogen it can hold in its chemical chain and is firm at room temperature.
Trans

 

  • Trans-fat results from adding hydrogen to unsaturated vegetable oils to increase shelf life and improve the texture of food. The added hydrogen crosses the chemical chain, making it more solid at room temperature.

In the 50s and 60s, an international research spearheaded by Ancel Keys revealed clear links between heart disease and fat consumption. This science has largely stood the test of time and provided the best available evidence indicating that saturated and trans-fat play an important role in heart disease5.

But what this research also did was that it underplayed the potential benefits of unsaturated fats – which are typically the kind that is found in fish and plant foods such as nuts and avocados. 

The Good-for-You Fats

Here’s some good news for those who have jumped onto the avocado toast bandwagon. For health benefits, this gets an A+.

It helps to:

  • decreases the bad cholesterol (LDL);
  • increases or maintains the good cholesterol (HDL);
  • reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease;
  • fights depressive moods, inflammation, mental decline, and more;
  • helps you feel fuller for longer.

Unsaturated fat can be further broken down into two categories:

Polyunsaturated fats

PUFAs can decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) while also increasing good cholesterol (HDL)6. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Foods to eat: oily fish, ground flaxseed, liquid plant-based cooking oils (avocado, olive, peanut), and nuts and seeds

a picture of salmon, avocado and nuts as a healthy meal with good fat
variety of nuts on a spoon

Monounsaturated fats

MUFAs can decrease LDL while maintaining HDL. Research shows they may even reduce risks associated with cardiovascular disease.

Foods to eat: nuts, avocados, olives, liquid plant-based cooking oils (grapeseed, sesame, sunflower, vegetable), and certain seeds (flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, etc.).

Not-So-Good Fats

Now, let’s explore what might be hiding in your food – the trans fats, also known as manufactured fats.

It is created when hydrogen molecules are pumped into vegetable oils. Hydrogenation creates makes it more solid that is less likely to go rancid, thus extending its shelf life.

Studies have also shown that large consumption could:

  • significantly raise our risk of heart disease;
  • cause inflammation;
  • can damage the inner lining of the blood vessels; and
  • could drive up insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

How much fat should be consumed?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the total intake should be less than 30% of the total energy intake. The intake of trans-fat should be less than 1% and saturated fats less than 10%5,6.

For every 2% of calorie intake from trans-fat, it increases your risk of getting heart diseases by an astonishing 23%7.

Mono and polyunsaturated fat contribute to stabilizing blood sugar levels, controlling appetite, contributing to weight loss, and even lowering blood pressure levels.

Nevertheless, they should be taken in moderation and as a substitute for saturated fats. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 2 servings (a total of 6-8 ounces) of omega-3 rich fatty fish in a week8.

image of someone pouring oil

The AHA also recommends limiting calories from saturated fat between 5 to 6%9. This translates to 120 calories or 13 grams in a day for a 2,000-calorie diet.

You can limit the consumption in your diet by:

  • Cutting off the visible fat from meat before cooking;
  • Limiting processed food;
  • Choosing low-fat dairy and lean meats;
  • Checking the nutrition facts label on your food; and
  • Replacing butter and margarine with olive oil.

Which is more challenging to lose?

Fat has a fairly simple itinerary – they are digested into fatty acids and glycerides and then stored away as reserves. This is eventually burned for energy. However, the challenge lies in the fact that fat is difficult to digest. But all these fats, which is the fat that is most challenging to lose? 

photo of saturated fat and unsaturated fat chemical bonding digram

Saturated fats are saturated with hydrogen molecules. Because the molecules are tightly packed together, they are harder to break down. It also has a higher melting point, requiring more effort to get rid of them.

In contrast, the molecules in unsaturated fats are not as tightly packed. The gaps between the molecules make it easier to break them down.

All fat, regardless of the type, gives the same amount of energy which is 9 calories per gram. As with many things in life, too much of anything is never good.

Even if you are having good fat, too much of it can lead to an excess of fat in the body.

 

How do CoolSculpting and SculpSure help with fat loss?

If you find yourself still struggling with stubborn fat despite sticking to a healthy diet and active lifestyle, non-invasive procedures like CoolSculpting and SculpSure might be the options for you.

CoolSculpting

CoolSculpting, also known as cryolipolysis, is an FDA-approved body contouring method that kills subcutaneous tissues by subjecting them to extreme cold. Since the lipid cells are sensitive to cold, freezing them triggers cellular death or apoptosis. Over time, the lymphatic system naturally flushes out the fat cells.

CoolSculpting can reduce fat cells by 20 to 27% 10. It is used to treat stubborn pockets or deposits in any area of the body, commonly the lower stomach, outer and inner thighs, armpit fat, back fat, bra bulge, upper arms, banana roll, sub-mental fat, etc.

 SculpSure

SculpSure is also an FDA-approved body contouring procedure using laser heat energy. It involves the application of heat to target and disrupt the lipid cells. The targeted laser energy heats the cells without damaging the skin and surrounding tissues. SculpSure can target the thigh, love handles, belly, etc. The damaged cells are naturally eliminated as well. Results can be seen anywhere between six to twelve weeks.

a lady reading a coolsculpting brochure while waiting for her fat freezing treatment

The Takeaway

Dieting is already challenging enough of a feat on its own. However, understanding the differences in fats and how they work in our bodies can help you make more informed decisions for yourself.