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Fat: Friend or Foe?

What is FAT?

When most of us are the question we imagine a reincarnation of the devil in the form of cells. But is fat really that bad? Most of us are obsessed over limiting fat in our diet. We are always looking for low fat and low calorie options; and once we get our hands on them we indulge because we just defeated the scary fat. Let me just say that as much as we would LIKE to make fat the villain it really isn’t all that bad, it does have it’s plus points. 

  1. So how much fat am I supposed to have in my daily diet?
    • The textbook answer is 20-35% of your total caloric intake for the day.
  2. Does everyone have the same caloric intake?
    • No, not everyone has the same caloric intake.
  3. Okay so how do I figure out how many calories each gram of fat has?
    • Fat gives us energy. It gives us energy to walk, jump, drive, sing, laugh and dance (amongst others). Did you know that on a gram to gram level fat gives us almost double the energy when compared to carbs or protein.I am glad you asked. Take the grams of fat and multiply it by 9. For example, it says your cookie has 10 grams of fat that means it has 90 calories from fat. Simple right?

Alright, now let’s move on to how fat actually helps our bodies.

  • Fat cushions and protects our internal organs from any harm.
  • It provides insulation for us so we can regulate our body temperatures.
  • It helps our body absorb certain vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K. Without fat our body wouldn’t be able to absorb these and we would be deficient and unhealthy.
  • Fat makes up a major part of the cell membrane. Ever heard of those tiny little things called phospholipids that come together to form your cell membrane? Well those little phospholipids are made from fat. If we didn’t have them, all of our cells would be a free floating mess.
  • Fat makes sure that your brain and nerves are working properly and efficiently. Our nerves are made of long cells called neurons. Imagine a tree with its roots, that’s similar to how a neuron looks like. These neurons carry out messages from our brain to the rest of our body parts. Imagine there is a pot of boiling water on the stove and you accidentally touch it. What happens? You immediately pull your hand back. What you never think of is how this all happens. First, your neurons send a message to your brain and inform it of your pain. Next, your brain sends a message back through your neurons telling your hand to pull back. This all happens so fast that we never stop to think about it. But imagine if this didn’t happen as fast as it was supposed to. Your neurons move as fast as they are supposed to because they are covered in this sheet of fat called myelin. If we didn’t have myelin our neurons would send messages very slowly and we would probably end up burning our entire hand!
We’ve discovered some of the good things about fat (see I told you fat wasn’t the devil :twisted: ). Remember, everything in moderation is beneficial. When it gets out of moderation, that’s when we see its dark side.
Don’t blame FAT, its PHAT! (no pun intended :-D)


The Takeaway.

  1. Fat is not all bad, it’s actually helpful!
  2. Fat is needed by several parts of our body, including our brain, in order for us to function normally.
  3. Like everything in our lives, fat should also be consumed in moderation (I know that’s hard sometimes because fatty foods taste delicious).

Sumi K.

A student of Nutrition.

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