Key #2: Eat Healthy Fats

There is probably no other area that generates as much confusion about healthy eating than fats do. Overall it is time to end the low-fat = healthy eating myth. What matters is the type of fat that you have in your diet. I want you to increase the amount of healthy fats and decrease or even better eliminate unhealthy fats that you eat.

Healthy fats are essential for any person and athletes are no exception. They are not only necessary for energy, but also needed for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, building cell membranes and synthesis of hormones. Some researchers argue that training on very low fat diets (<15% calories from fat per day) may lead to a more pro-inflammatory state, possibly a compromised immune system as well as possible deficiency in some essential micronutrients such as vitamin E.

Unhealthy fats include saturated animal fats and trans fats. Unhealthy saturated fats typically come from animal sources and include red meat (which you can eat on occasion for protein and iron – but make sure it’s grass-fed and organic), butter, cheese, ice cream. You can spot these because they are solid at room temperature. Simply, avoid saturated animal fats, trans-fats, hydrogenated vegetable oils and processed foods.

Having said that, there are healthy fats you can add to your diet such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts. The takeaway here is not that you should be afraid of fats and of adding healthy fats to your diet but that you should avoid unhealthy fats that can damage your health and metabolism.

Today's POWER-UP: Here are great ways to improve the balance between healthy and unhealthy fats:

  • Use extra-virgin olive, walnut, coconut, and sustainably sourced palm oil. And when you cook with oil, never heat it past the smoking point, as the beneficial properties of the oil are ruined.

  • Have a handful of raw nuts and seeds every day – focus on almonds, pecans, walnuts, flax and chia.

  • Eat small fatty fish (such as sardines and salmon) often and larger fish (such as tuna and swordfish) infrequently, as they contain higher levels of toxic heavy metals.

  • Buy flax oil in dark bottles and keep it in the fridge (air, light and heat cause it to break down). Use it in salads or other cold dishes or add it to cooked foods. You could also buy ground flax and add it to shakes, cereal, cooked grains and stews.

  • Eat grass-fed animals rather than grain-fed animals.

  • Use cheese as a spice not a food. A small amount of old, flavourful cheese can be a nice addition to a salad or stir fry. But cheese is not a healthy food so limit your intake or avoid it completely.

  • Serve healthy fats at the table. Use olive oil as a drizzle instead of butter, or guacamole instead of sour cream.