fats and the human body

It is very interesting to the see the way everybody seem to be pointing accusing fingers at "fat" as being the major cause of their gaining extra body weight. This nonetheless essential macronutrient has been and continues to be grossly misunderstood by a generality of the public as being simply bad for their health. Therefore to most people, fat in general must be avoided in order to lose weight and keep it off for good.

Somehow, these misapprehensions could easily be traced to the general fact that 1 gram of fat contains approximately 9 calories as compared to carbohydrates and proteins which have 4 calories each. However, this should simply be an indication for people to understand that in order to achieve weight loss they need not consume as much fat as they consume carbohydrates and proteins due to their high caloric values. But the contrary appear to be the case as the seeming irresistible flavor and aroma of fatty foods seems too much for most people to resist.

One undeniable fact is that fat tastes delicious. Fat give food products a particular texture that is satiating and which makes them taste good. Without it, food is tasteless, and requires something extra to perk up the flavor. Equally of important note is the fact that a lot of people are simply consuming very little amount of the good fats needed to maximize health and consuming a lot more significant amounts of the bad fats.

Also, while too much fat is bad for general health, research also indicate that too little fat can also become a problem. A product containing less than 3g fat per 100g is generally considered low in fat and high in fat if it has more than 20g fat per 100g or 21g fat per serving. For Women, fats should provide about 70g or 30-35% of their daily dietary energy while men need about 90g a day.

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Despite these and other important facts about the negative impact of too much fat on weight loss and other health related issues, fat by itself is not that bad. Fats are a group of naturally occurring organic compounds referred to as triglycerides. Fat are also known as lipids – substances that are poorly soluble or insoluble in water. They are usually oily, greasy, or waxy substances which in their pure states are usually colorless, odorless and tasteless.

Dietary fat is a term that is used to describe different types of fat of which 90% are the triglycerides. Triglycerides are made up of three molecules of fatty acids attached to one molecule of the alcohol glycerol. Cholesterol is also another known type of dietary fat. Body fat and dietary fat are very similar due to the fact that dietary fat is very easy to store as body than either protein or carbohydrate.

Fats are important for the formation, structure and function of cell membranes. The cell membrane is the barrier that separates a cell from its surrounding while also protecting it from changes in both its chemical and physical environment and which regulates the entry of nutrients and expulsion of toxins. Several studies have indicated that the type of fat consumed by an individual has a significant effect on the cell membranes. The cell membranes become hard and less flexible when a lot of saturated and trans fatty acids are consumed while they have more fluidity and flexibility when diets consisting of essential healthy fats are eaten.

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They are also the building block for many essential compounds like hormones (to which they also serve as precursors), blood clotting agents as well as other compounds that play major roles in immune and inflammatory responses. Fats also aid in the transportation, breakdown, and excretion of cholesterol from the body while also functioning as a transportation medium for soluble vitamins and antioxidants.

Fatty acids – more especially the essential fatty acids – function as structural components and are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be very important for cognitive and behavioral functions. Research has also recognized the fact that these oils also play important roles in the development of a baby’s brain whilst in the womb. They are also noteworthy in the role they play in the transmission of nerve impulses in the nervous system. Equally, while providing the body with a form of insulation, one very obvious function of fats seems to be provision of a reserve supply of energy in the form of adipose tissue – stored body fat.

Obviously not all fats are the same. Therefore it becomes important to understand the differences between the good and bad types of fats since the body needs a certain daily amount of the good fats in order to function optimally. Knowing the facts and opting for the healthy fat options is the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.