Building muscle on a plant based diet: Part three – Fats

Fat is the third macro nutrient that we need to discuss. There are many different forms of fat – polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats, trans fats and so on. Some fats are good for us while others can wreck havoc on our body. Luckily for a vegan it’s a lot easier to eat more of the good fats and less of the bad kinds. So lets get into this and talk more about the different kinds of fats, sources of fats and how much you fat you should be having.

Saturated Fats
This type of fat is found in high percentages in foods like milk, cheese, beef, chicken and coconut oil . There have been studies that link saturated fats with certain types of cancers, bone density degradation, raising of your LDL (bad cholesterol) and also suggestions that it is linked with cardiovascular diseases. You definitely want to keep this kind of fat to a minimum.

Monounsaturated Fats
Now these types of fats are most commonly found in foods like some nuts, avocados and olive oil. Studies have shown that diets containing monounsaturated Fats have the ability to lower the risk of heart disease and some cancers, a reduction of cholesterol levels and can aid in weight loss. Adding this type of fat into your diet will only be doing your body a favour.

Polyunsaturated Fats
Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are found within polyunsaturated fats. Sources of these fats are tahini, chia and flax seeds, fish, pine nuts, walnuts and brazil nuts. Benefits of omega 3s are reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, help with depression, improve eye health, fight inflammation and help with metabolic syndromes. Having a diet high in omega containing polyunsaturated fats is best for overall health.

Trans Fats
Trans fats are fats that are both nautically occurring or have been artificially created in an industrial process. There is strong evidence to suggest they cause LDL levels to rise and decrease HDL (good cholesterol) levels within humans. Typical foods that are high in trans fats are butter, cheese, meats, cooking oils as well as many processed foods. Avoiding this type of fat for overall health is desirable.

Now that we’ve covered the types of fats there are and where you can get them from let’s get stuck into how much fat do you need daily? Now of course like all macro nutrients this is going to vary from individual to individual. Personally I like to keep my fat intake around 20-25% of my daily macro allowance (If you remember we spoke about macro ratios back in the Protein and Carbs articles) so for someone like me that can is around 80-90g of fat a day, of course you can take yours higher depending on your goal. When getting ready for a competition I would have low and medium carb days so to compensate for the lack of carbs my fat intake on that day would rise to keep my overall calories similar.

Being a vegan I get all of my fat from plant based sources, however as I have a nut allergy that can limit what I can eat. I usually get my fats from flaxseed, chia, tofu, avocado, coconut oil and oats. Just remember if you’re looking to keep your body running at optimal performance and health then try to include plenty of the essential fats like omega 3 and 6’s in your diet and try to avoid trans and saturated fats as much as possible.


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