Whether you’re trying the use it or lose it, fat is a vital organic molecule. It’s one of the 3 macronutrients present in our food.
Macronutrients are energy giving organic substances. When you count the caloric value of food, it's based on the macronutrient content.
Gram for gram, fat is the most calorie-dense of the macros you eat, having over twice the energy value of either carbs or protein.
But what is fat really, and how is it made up to have its unique qualities?
In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at fat, and find some facts.
We often know the names and the basic qualities of the stuff we eat, but we often don't really grasp what these nutrients actually provide us with.
Before we get too far in, make sure you check out the Life Renu Store for some quality wellness supplements designed to boost the quality of your health and nutrition.
With that said, let's get into some fat facts.
First off, you need to know that fat is a hydrocarbon, which means an organic compound molecule with hydrogen and carbon forming its base structure.
When it comes to fat, you get long chains of hydrogen and carbon. These chains are arranged in a ladder-like configuration with hydrogen forming the rungs and carbon forming the central spine.
The chains we’re talking about are called fatty acids. On their own, they don't count as a fat molecule, instead, you get 3 of them joined by a glycerol head.
Another fact about fatty acids is they each end with a carbon, hydrogen, oxygen tail called a carboxyl group.
So a full-fat molecule is actually 3 hydrocarbon ladders with a carboxyl tail, all joined together by glycerole.
The hydrocarbon ladder’s bonds or connections between consecutive carbon atoms is what determines the type of fatty acid (saturated, unsaturated and trans).
Saturated Fatty Acids
Saturated fatty acids are fatty acids where the hydrocarbon chain has consecutive single bonds throughout the fatty acid ladder.
This type of fat is the most common form in your body, since its the form in which fat is stored.
Solid at room temperature, you'll get this mostly from animal tissue, but also in plants such as coconuts and palm kernels.
Saturated fat is considered unhealthy in most cases, but in limited amounts, it isn't harmful to your health.
Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Unsaturated fats are fats with a double bond between at least one of the carbon links. For each double bond, there is one less hydrogen atom.
This is what the tern unsaturated means, it means the hydrocarbon chain doesn't have the maximum number of hydrogens possible (saturation).
When there's just one instance of a double bond, the fat is called monounsaturated, and when there are two or more double bonds, it’s called polyunsaturated
These fats are considered healthy and some of the fatty acids in this group are actually essential to your health and must be included in a healthy diet.
These are previously unsaturated fats that have been saturated or partially saturated by the addition of hydrogen. This process is called hydrogenation and is usually artificial.
Fats like margarine are the result of hydrogenation.
Trans fats are categorically unhealthy, there’s no moderate amount we can advise.
The Role of Fat
Fat has many uses, some are often overlooked or not even considered as the domain of fat.
We all know fat is used for energy and storage, but there are some other amazing and essential uses and benefits of fat in the body.
1. Fat as storage
The most prevalent role of fat in the body is as an energy storage molecule. This is done to allow us to have a backup reserve of metabolic fuel should we need it.
This fat is stored in specialized cells called adipocytes, or fat cells. They mainly accumulate under the skin.
When you are starved or have burned through all your available carb stores, your body turns to stored fat to keep things going.
An obvious problem we face today is an excess of body fat. Because we are less active and eat more, we have a higher propensity towards packing more extra energy.
While being overweight isn’t healthy in this sense, having no adipose fat is also bad for your health.
2. Fat as Fuel
The other common role of fat in the body is as a metabolic fuel. After all, that's the primary reason your body even stores fat, so that it can be used as fuel if need be.
This need arises when your body is starved of carbs, the preferred metabolic fuel.
Before the fat is used as fuel, it is converted to one of 3 organic molecules known as ketone bodies. This is done by the liver, allowing your fat to be used as energy in your cells.
Here at Life Renu, we know that optimizing the use of fat as fuel is a key to unlocking healthy weight loss.
That's why keto is a big deal for us. Keto is when your body enters a state called ketosis. In this state, your body is now dedicated to using fat as it’s main metabolic fuel instead of carbs.
This is a great weight loss strategy, which is why we vouch for keto.
3. Fat as Insulation
One often ignored the role of fat is as an insulator. It helps regulate body temperature by providing a layer of tissue that relatively resistant to conducting heat.
In humans, the role of fat as an insulator is evident in how larger people tend to stay warmer than leaner bodies.
Fat as insulation is more pronounced in certain other animals such as cetaceans (dolphins and whales), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) and other cold-water animals.
Insulative fat is one of the main roles of baby fat in infant humans.
4. Fat as a Nutrient Carrier
Certain nutrients, besides fat itself, need fat in order to be transported for bioavailability.
3 vitamins spring to mind when talking about fat as a transport molecule.
These are vitamins A, K, and E.
Without fat, these vitamins would be rendered unavailable for use. That's not good because you do kinda need them.
So that's a brief look into how fat works.
The point of articles like this is to give you a little bit of a foundation in understanding when dealing with all the health and nutrition advice you’ll come across.
It’s easy to get swept onto a bandwagon based on what’s popular, but until you understand how nutrition and your body works, you’re just a blind follower.
We hope this little article has helped add some value to your life. If you have any other questions, be sure to drop a comment in the section below and we’ll get back to you.
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