The term "healthy fats" is not a contradiction. Quite the opposite, the right kind of fats are what keep you healthy.
They can help you lose weight, sustain energy, build cells, absorb key vitamins, regulate hormones and even brighten your skin.
Of course, not all fat is good. Man-made trans fats are the enemy. Trans fat is found in packaged products and fast food and has the opposite affect on your body by causing weight gain, moodiness and depression.
Even if you shy away from bad fats, as an athlete, you still need more healthy fats in your diet. Here's why you need them and how you can get more.
Healthy Fat and Athletes
Athletes are always talking about carbs while healthy fats often go unmentioned. And yet, healthy fats are the primary energy source for endurance athletes participating in long-distance events. Your body also needs fat to use carbohydrate energy source effectively.
Eat Healthy Fats
Always choose fats that are found in nature; avoid processed foods that say, "low fat" or "fat free." These are usually laden with a variety of sodium, sugar and preservatives to make up for the lack of fat. Choose whole, healthy fats such as:
- Raw organic nuts and seeds
- Coconut oil
- Hemp is a complete protein meaning that it contains all 10 essential amino acids. It's also full of good, healthy fats and omegas 3 and 6, (Hemp is one of the only foods that contain GLA, or omega-6.) which help you maintain healthy skin and hair. Hemp also balances hormones, reduces inflammation and improves heart health. Look for hemp hearts, great for salad toppings or hemp protein powder that you can use to make a post-workout shake.
- Eggs, when eaten with the yolk, provide vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B2, B12 and D, as well as iron and healthy fat.
Incorporate healthy fats into your daily eating routine. Have an organic avocado for lunch, raw organic walnuts for a snack and a tablespoon of organic coconut oil at some point during the day. If you're training to compete in an Ironman or endurance event, start testing various sources of fat now to see what works best come race day.
More: Recipe: Coconut SmoothieGet more nutrition tips and advice.