Saturated fat is one of the “bad” fats, but it’s not completely evil. It's like that stray cat in your neighbourhood that hisses at everyone, he’s not trying to harm you, he's just a bit misunderstood. He probably doesn't really want to be your friend though...
What are saturated fats?
Saturated fats are fats that are solid at room temperature Lard, butter, processed meat and anything deep fried are examples of common foods high in saturated fat. Avoiding them will have no negative effect on your health, (as long as you’re getting some “good” fats) and will improve your chances of avoiding health problems such as heart disease, liver disease or having a stroke.
So, yeah, like I said: Bad.
Why should I eat them?
The short version is that you shouldn’t, but they can be hard to avoid. Even trimmed meat will have some saturated fat, and that’s OK, as long as you’re burning fat
off. Having some fat in your system is necessary for carrying some vitamins, and to be used as energy, but where possible you should try to get mono- or poly-unsaturated fats.
What do they do for me?
Your body is more likely to store saturated fats than unsaturated ones, so if you’re trying to drop weight, you should be dropping the saturated fats from your diet.
It can also increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood. Having too much cholesterol will mean that fat sticks to your arteries, and can increase your chances of some really bad health issues, like heart attack and stroke.
How often should I eat them?
In short, you should eat them rarely. When you can, swap foods high in saturated fat for foods that are low or don’t have any at all. It can be as simple as deciding to use crushed avocado instead of margarine on your sandwich, or grilling meat and allowing the fat to render away instead of frying (or even worse, deep-frying) your meat.
Even a small improvement can make a big difference, and it is really important to minimize your saturated fats if you’re trying to get healthy. You can exercise and remove some fat from your muscles, but it’s much, much harder to remove it from your arteries. If you’re a smoker, it’s harder still.
What foods are high in saturated fat?
Food high in saturated fat should be avoided where possible, such as:
- Duck meat (skin on)
- Fatty cuts of meat (like marbled steak, pork belly and chicken thighs)
You can still have a bit of them, and they’re even better if you reduce the fat by grilling your meat, or choosing low fat dairy products.
What if I eat too much of it?
Eating too much of any fat is bad, but eating too much saturated fat is a really bad idea. You’re punching your health goals in the face. Seriously, don’t do it. You’ll add fat to your frame, feel slow and lazy as well as increase your risk of some really bad diseases. I know it’s a downer to think about, but it’s only slightly better than drinking from the deep fryer.
What if I’m not eating enough?
This is pretty unlikely to be happening. Like carbohydrates, fats can be from from virtually everywhere. Eating very little saturated fats is fine, as long as you’re eating enough of the other, good fats. If you’re not eating any fat, you’ll have trouble absorbing fat soluble nutrients, as well as lack the energy that small amounts of fat can give you. Fat isn’t the demon that supermarket magazines would have you think, but it’s not a great buddy to have around all the time either.
Is it safe for women too?
Because women tend to absorb fat easier than men, you need to be a little bit more cautious than men with your fat intake. You WILL still need some fats, but too much bad fat will find it’s way to whatever part of your body that you really wish it didn’t.
Saturated fat isn’t as bad for you as trans-fats, but that’s like saying that being stung by a jellyfish isn’t as bad as being eaten by a shark. You want to avoid both if possible, so create a good meal plan and replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats to get your health goals