The best fats for athletes and what to avoid

The best fats for athletes and what to avoid

They don’t have a good reputation, but they belong in every kitchen. Because we need fats. In addition to protein and carbohydrates, they are among the most essential nutrients for the body. But, unfortunately, they contain a lot of energy. Therefore not only the quantity but also the quality plays an important role. All about the best fats for athletes.

Fats are important for the taste

Good to know: Fats are not evil per se. They supply and store energy, and they are indispensable for the nerve cells. Also, they transport fat-soluble vitamins and protect organs from injury. Last but not least: Fat is also an essential carrier of taste and aromas. So, their popularity is no wonder.

Fat contains a lot of energy

But there is one decisive disadvantage: One gram of fat contains nine calories. Carbohydrates and proteins are only four calories. That’s the reason why nutrition experts recommend not to eat more than 60 to 80 grams of fat daily. But this is even for ascetically living athletes not so easy, due to the wide range of food offers today.

Pay attention to the quality of the fats

But not only the quantity, but also the quality plays a decisive role. If fats are healthy for athletes or not depends on the chemical structure. Some fats are suitable for the body, others are not. The biggest problem with fats: our body cannot utilize them so well. They are stored in depots and only degraded piece by piece when needed. The body uses the released energy to support other metabolic processes. This means that more fat is only suitable for athletes who train very hard. Otherwise, you will gain weight.

You can find a lot of unsaturated fats in salmon
Salmon is a good source for unsaturated fatty acids

Saturated and unsaturated fats

Nutritionists differentiate between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids have the advantage that they are much more reactive. As a result, the body produces other substances from them. He uses them as a component of cell membranes and precisely produces those tissue hormones that regulate blood pressure and immune function, which is vital for athletes.

  • Products of animal origin (meat and dairy products) mainly contain saturated fatty acids.
  • Good vegetable oils and many sea fish are rich in unsaturated fatty acids.

The best fats for athletes

In particular essential fatty acids are very healthy. They control the development of the brain, the immune system, and blood pressure. However, the body cannot produce them itself, so it is essential to take them in through food. The two best-known essential fatty acids are omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly rich in cold sea fish such as herring, mackerel, sardine, and salmon. But they are also in walnut- and rapeseed- oil. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in thistle-, sunflower- and peanut oil.

Why fats for athletes are so important

Nutritionists recommend eating both fatty acids twice a week. They have an enormous influence, especially für endurance athletes:

  • They activate fat metabolism and they improve fat burning. Both has a positive effect on endurance performance.
  • They improve the uptake of oxygen and transport of oxygen in the body.
  • They have an anti-inflammatory effect. This is important because small inflammatory processes can occur with every intensive strain. If these happen less frequently, you can shorten your regeneration time. So you can train more and harder.
  • They increase brain performance. You can better concentrate and have you have better reflexes.
  • They support protein synthesis and thus your muscle building.
Be careful with meat. Even too much red meat isn’t healthy (©adpic)

Why less meat ist better

Meat has many saturated fats, but saturated fats don’t have these positive effects on the body. On the contrary, they even have an adverse impact, as studies have shown. Therefore it is a good idea to reduce your meat consumption. In fact, with a clever diet, it is no problem to get into top form without meat. 

It’s also a question of taste

When you go shopping, you will have a great choice of oils to buy. Important to know: Natural products taste like the fruits, nuts, or seeds from which they were made. They are ideal for salads. Clear, odorless, and tasteless oils are perfect for cooking and frying.

Be careful with industrial products

Athletes know, of course, that they should be careful with convenience foods. No matter whether baked goods, pastries, snacks, or fries – they contain trans-fatty acids. They are proven not healthy because they let raise your cholesterol and blood fats. In addition, they hinder critical metabolic processes, especially during physical exertion, and reduce your performance.

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