Dietary Fats

Dietary Fats

Fats are the most energy-dense of the three macronutrients. Fats are made up of the same elements as carbohydrates - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen - but the way the atoms are linked together is different. (oils, are simply fats that are liquid rather than solid at room temperature) Fats, which can be found in both plants and animals, are insoluble in water. They are grouped in three categories: simple fats (triglycerides), compound fats (phospholipids, glucolipids, lipoproteins), and derived fats (cholesterol).

Fats in the body serve three basic functions:

1) Provide the major source of stored energy (body fat)

2) Serve to cushion and protect the major organs

3) Act as an insulator, preserving body heat and protecting against excessive cold.

Fat is the most calorie-dense of any nutrient. A pound of fat contains about 4000 calories, as opposed to 1800 calories stored in a pound of protein or carbohydrate.

When you exercise, assuming you stay within your aerobic capacity (don't get out of breath), the body uses fats and carbohydrates for energy on about a 50-50 basis. But the longer you continue steady exercise, the higher the percentage of fat used. After working three hours or so, the body may derive as much as 80 percent of its energy from fat.

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