When you’re getting ready to get outside or get in a hard gym session, it’s all too easy to load up on carbohydrates. But while our body turns to carbs first for readily accessible energy and this strategy works fine for shorter bursts of activity, you’re going to need more to get you through an epic session. That’s where fat comes in.
For far too long, athletes believed the alarmist warnings that spurred the low-fat craze – that fat causes heart disease and umpteen other health problems. But in recent years, nutritionists and sports scientists have come to realize they were dead wrong about the connection between fat and illness, and that in fact, as long as you’re avoiding the villains of the fat world (see: trans fat), that eating more fat can be beneficial. It not only provides calorie-dense, slow burning fuel, but can also help you recover better, improve skin and joint health and actually do your heart good. Here are 3 fats you should add to your next grocery list.
There’s a reason that Bulletproof Coffee founder Dave Asprey made MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil a key component of his wildly popular drink. The medium chain fatty acids found in coconuts are metabolized quickly, making them the perfect fuel for exercise. One study found that including MCTs in your daily diet can increase energy expenditure by 5 percent. While you can buy concentrated MCT oil, stick to real coconut, which you can sprinkle on oatmeal and add to smoothies. You can even just eat a spoonful of coconut oil (despite the name, it’s solid when not heated) once a day. One word of caution: too much coconut can have a laxative effect.
In the book Born To Run, Chris McDougall discovered that chia seeds are the nutrition secret that fuels the Tarahumara tribe to amazing feats of endurance. While fish is the most popular source of omega 3 fatty acids, a serving of chia seeds packs the same Omega 3 punch as salmon, making if perfect for those who are allergic to fish or just don’t like it. This type of fat reduces the joint inflammation that often plagues athletes and helps reduce post-workout soreness. Plus, chia is a rich source of minerals like magnesium, which is involved in over 300 bodily processes. You can include chia in baking and cereal, or put a scoop in a glass of water, add a little sea salt and lemon or lime juice and leave overnight in the fridge. The seeds absorb 10 times their weight in water and will turn into a gel-like drink (sounds gross, but it isn’t). Because of this and their high fiber content, chia seeds also aid digestion.
Go nuts on the home made guac! ( the bag of tortilla chips is another story). Avocado is one of the only fat-rich fruits and as well as offering lasting energy, its monounsaturated fats can actually lower cholesterol – take that, anti-fat alarmists. In addition, these fats help your body convert the carotenoids that give avocado flesh its color into vision protecting vitamin A. Plus, avocados are high in vitamin K, which promotes bone health. As well as loading up on guacamole, you can toss avocado into salads, slice it up to add to sandwiches and use it as a cream cheese substitute.