Have you eaten your fat for today? You are probably not used to hearing this very often, but similar to your requirement of fiber, vegetables and other key nutrients, you also require a certain quantity of dietary fat to stay slim and healthy. Although consuming fatty foods in excess especially the wrong types of fat are not good to maintain optimal health, still certain types of fats are required for synthesis of hormones, energy levels, skin health, brain function and much more. Read the article to find if you are having symptoms of not enough fat in diet.
The Dangers of Not Having Enough Fat in Diet
1. Inability to Shed Weight
While you may find it counter-intuitive; however, consuming fat may help you in losing the last stubborn pounds. When you eat more fats and lesser amount of carbohydrates, you feel more fueled and satiated all through the day.
According to a study conducted by the American Diabetic Association, when the participants consumed a diet high in MUFAs (monounsaturated fats), it helped in reducing belly fat. It has also been found that consuming PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats) on a regular basis leads to higher metabolic rate (resting).
2. Feelings of Constant Hunger
When you eat a diet high in refined carbs such as pastas and white breads, you will feel starved almost within one hour of consuming a meal. Adding small amount of fat to your diet, particularly saturated and polyunsaturated fats, helps in improving your satiety and regulating your appetite.
3. Feelings of Low Energy
Eating a diet rich in carbohydrates upsets the balance of your blood sugar levels resulting in rise and fall of energy levels-another sign of not enough fat in diet. When you eat fats with carbohydrates, their digestion is slowed down by fats, which not only improves insulin sensitivity but also stabilizes levels of blood glucose. Fats can also boost energy levels as they provide 9 calories for each g in comparison to 4 calories per g provided by proteins or carbs.
4. Dry, Flaky or Dull Skin
Omega 6 and omega 3 fats are important for maintaining the health of membranes of the cells of skin and production of lipids- which forms a part of skin that prevents water from moving out; thereby, maintaining skin elasticity. Fatty acids are also essential for the functioning of glands that produce oil, which moisturize the skin naturally.
5. Feelings of Irritability and Anxiety
If you are not getting enough fat in diet, particularly omega 3s, you may feel irritated, overexcited, or overwhelmed in places that are crowed.
6. Problems with Vision
A decline in your eyesight is also a sign of not enough fat in diet. People who eat omega 3 fats are less likely to suffer from macular degeneration, a condition of the eye, which results in blindness. Omega 3 also helps in treating glaucoma and in reducing the risk of development of dry eye syndrome.
7. Deficiencies of Vitamins
Fat soluble vitamins include vitamin A, E, K and D and they require dietary fat to get absorbed and utilized in your body. Hence, if your diet is lacking in fat, then you may develop deficiency of these vitamins despite of consuming them in diet or through supplementation.
8. Pain in Joints
People who suffer from painful conditions of the joints or arthritis get benefit from consuming healthy fats as these help in reducing inflammation. Omega 3 fats are found to reduce symptoms of swollen or tender joints and morning stiffness and also help in increasing flow of blood during exercise.
9. Poor Cognitive Function or Memory
Fat is essential for building membranes of brain cells and for creating insulation around nerve fiber so that messages can travel to your brain quickly. Brain contains omega 3 fats in large quantity and they are necessary for mental performance and memory.
Low mood, depression or anxiety can be a sign of not enough fat in diet when these symptoms are present in association with other signs and symptoms of lack of dietary fats. According to research, treatment with omega 3 fats has been found to be more effective in comparison to antidepressant drugs.
11. Hostility or Anger
Deficiency of omega 3 fats has been associated with increased levels of hostile and impulsive behavior, anger and cynical ideas in healthy adults.
12. Imbalance in Hormones
Dietary fat play an important role in the synthesis of hormones especially prostaglandins (substances similar to hormones that help in regulation of many functions of the body) and sex hormones.
Females who consume diets low in fats have higher risk of developing menstrual and fertility problems.
13. Problems of the Gut
Diets rich in fiber and fat are linked to healthier environment of the gut. The essential nutrients and fatty acids required to perform the necessary functions are supplied to both the brain and the gut by such diets. Keeping your gut healthy is essential to maintain your overall health especially as your 80% immune system is present in the gut.
14. Low Levels of HDL Cholesterol
One of the signs of not enough fat in diet is low levels of HDL cholesterol. Healthy levels of HDL provide protection against cardiovascular disease. To raise its levels, add some good fats such as nuts and fish to your diet.
15. Increased Risk of Cancer
Low intake of fats has been linked to increased risk of prostate, breast and colon cancers. According to research, eating diet rich in omega 3 slows growth of cancer cells and prostate tumor.
How to Include More Healthy Fat in Your Diet
According to experts, around 20-35% of your daily calories should come from fats. So if you are eating a 2,400 calorie diet, it would be around 800 calories.
The two main kinds of fats are:
Unsaturated fat: This is the most common type. Food sources are vegetable oils, nuts, olive oil, flaxseed and fish. These are the healthy fats since they have lesser calories in comparison to other fats. These fats help in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes type 2. Both PUFA and MUFA are this type of fat. Omega 6 and omega 3 are PUFA-both are healthy fats, though in modern diet you consume more of omega 6s and less of omega 3s. Food sources of omega 3 are eggs, oily fish, flaxseed, lean meats, soybeans and walnuts. Food sources of omega 6 are sunflower seeds, sesame and sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts and pecans.
Saturated fat: These are solid when at room temperature. Saturated fat is present in foods obtained from animals and sources are eggs, butter, meat, whole milk, cheese, cream, some oils such as coconut, palm kernel and avocados.
According to modern wisdom the following is suggested:
1. Eat both kinds of fats: Your body requires both kinds of fats regularly to maintain optimal health.
2. Opt for good sources of fat: When eating saturated fats, avoid bad sources of fats. For instance, choose grass-fed beef, instead of conventionally grown which has hormones and antibiotics. Similarly choose real butter instead of synthetic margarines which has harmful ingredients.
3. Avoid trans fats: Trans fats raise the risk of diabetes type 2 and heart disease and are found in cookies, donuts, muffins, cakes, frozen pizzas, potpies etc. Avoid food items that contain partially hydrogenated oils.
4. Eat more of healthy fats such as the unsaturated ones mentioned above.
5. Don’t avoid fats: Its time that you rewire your brain. Some amount of fat is good for you and important for your health. It is okay to eat moderate amount of eggs, some meats, dark chocolate, butter, coconut oil, dairy and cheese.