4 Signs You're Not Eating Enough Fat

Fat deficiency. It seems hard to believe that you could be deficient in fat, but it’s more common than you may think, especially amongst competitive athletes and bodybuilders. The fat-free craze in the 1990’s really changed the dynamics and social paradigms of how people thought about fat. We were all taught that fat makes you fat. That red meat high in saturated fat caused heart attacks. But it simply is not true. Your body and brain need fat to function. When your fat intake is too low, you could in fact be putting your body at increased risk. If you are exhibiting some of the symptoms below it might be a sign that you don't have enough fat in your diet.

Why You Need Fat In Your Diet 

Fat is complicated. Not getting enough fat in your diet, can be detrimental to your health. Fat plays a vital role in the human body. Several micronutrient and vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they need fat to be properly absorbed and utilized for efficient biological function. Fat is also used as a reserve energy source when you burn through your glycogen stores. The key is to include healthy or “good” fats in your diet such as mono or polyunsaturated fats. 

For a long time, researchers believed that saturated fat was detrimental to your health and affected cholesterol levels. Researchers now question whether saturated fat or overeating plays the bigger role in disease and that saturated fat might not affect cholesterol levels at all. In fact, it might have a positive benefit on health.

Dietary fat and body fat are not the same. Naturally occurring fats in whole foods aren’t the problem or source of confusion. These types of fats, or good healthy fats from meat, poultry, nuts, and fruit like avocados, are needed to help your body run at optimal levels.  Refined fats, and added fats are what cause problems.

1. Fat Helps Hormonal Function

Despite what critics once said, saturated fat is necessary and beneficial for proper hormone function. Saturated fats suppress inflammation and even contain vitamins. In fact, less than 10% body fat, contributed from overexercising and low fat intake can cause of the loss of menstrual cycle.

2. Metabolic Syndrome

Low fat intake is associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. A cross-sectional study which included 34,000 participants, found that metabolic syndrome was much more prevalent amongst the lower fat (> 15%) intake group as compared to the group with higher fat intake [R]

3. Reduced Nutrient Absorption 

Healthy fats provide key benefits to your body in the form of nutrient uptake. Your body needs dietary fat to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat supports healthy cell growth and can maintain cholesterol and blood pressure. By severely reducing fat intake, your body may not get the nutrients it needs for proper function.

4. Severe Mental Fatigue

Fat can increase neurological function and the efficiency of your brain’s mental processing and memory. It also improves mitochondrial function aka your energy production. Essential fatty acid deficiency can lead to problems concentrating and memory. Large scale cohort studies have shown that higher fat intake can help preserve memory in older populations [R].

Low Fat Intake: Takeaway

Fat is crucial for several biological functions. When fat is reduced to drastically low levels, you can increase your risk to several negative factors, such as mental fatigue, reduced nutrient absorption, inadequate hormonal balance, even the increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Bodybuilders often cut their calories drastically low when prepping for a competition. This can be detrimental especially to women. Keeping fat intakes below 15% on a consistent basis can throw your hormones out of whack and even cause loss of menstrual cycle. 


Need Help With Optimizing Your Diet And Nutrition Plan To Finally Get The Results You've Been Waiting For?

The Swole Kitchen provides 1:1 nutrition coaching, macro coaching, and custom meal plans to help guide you to becoming the best version of yourself. We teach you how to enjoy the foods you love in the right amounts, so you can fit into your favorite pair of jeans, hit your health and fitness goals, and be healthy and happy. We guide you through making sound nutritional decisions and teach you along the way, so you can learn how to take control of your health, and discover what if feels like to live again.
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