Things have certainly changed when it comes to what we believe about fat calories. It wasn’t all that long ago that fats were considered the primary cause of all our weight problems and heart risks. But things have changed. Not only have some fats received a free pass to get out of the dietary doghouse, some have gone from bad guy to hero on the nutritional landscape. In the effort to create a faster, more efficient metabolism, one needs to navigate this nutritional landscape with a good map and a strong commitment, because nutrition and exercise are equally important to the process. And eating the right carbohyd-rates and fats is more important than skipping them altogether.
The kind of fats we get from normal foods (you have to go out on a bit of a limb, or at least to the health food section, to find the flaxseed and fish oils that deliver the omega family) have been grouped into two categories, one of them very bad, the other tolerable if you don’t overdo things: saturated fats derived from animal sources (primarily meat and dairy) are the ones that clog our arteries, and must be watched closely. Its fine to consume them in moderation, but trouble awaits those who enjoy too many steaks per week. The other category is the unsaturated fats, those from nuts, avocados and canola oil, which are less likely to be absorbed by the body and can be consumed more liberally. Both categories deliver 9 calories per gram (as opposed to only 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates), so regardless of artery issues they need to be managed to keep the calorie count in check.
Saturated fats should comprise no more than seven percent of your daily calories, and the closer you can come to zero percent, the better. The darker the meat, the higher the saturated fat content – that’s why you never hear a diet comprised of chicken legs, it’s always chicken breasts.
And then there’s the issue of the omega oils (also known as poly-unsaturated oils). These are truly the “essential oils” referred to these days, as they cannot be stored in the body as fat, and they deliver nutrients that help the heart stay healthy and the entire bio-chemistry of the body remain balanced. The primary source of omega-3 acids are fish oils and flaxseed oils, which means that unless you’re dining on salmon regularly (a great source of omega-3s), you’ll need to stock up on supplements. Important cousins of the omega-3 acid include the omega-6 (which delivers more linolenic acid) and omega-9 (found primarily in olive oil), which is not official an “essential” fatty acid because this one can be produced by the body using raw material from the presence of the other fatty acids.
We now know that an accelerated metabolism is the key to optimizing your bio-chemistry, while serving other healthy functions. A slow metabolism is caused by bio-chemistry that results in the inefficient burning of calories to create fuel, but this can be changed through proper diet and exercise. Remember, the purpose of increasing your metabolism is so that your body will burn more calories and burn them fast, both while exercising and being active, and while at rest. This evolution – from a slow metabolism to a fast one – is the one single thing that differentiates lean people from heavy people, and it is the most powerful thing you can do to become leaner and healthier.