Fats are a big topic of discussion these days. Everybody wants to lose fat. Everywhere you go, you see things like “low fat”, “no fat” or “fat free”. What are fats and do they deserve the bad reputation that they get?
Fats are one of the three main macronutrient types for your body, together with proteins and carbohydrates. Unlike carbohydrates, some types of fats are considered essential for your body and life. This means that you need to get them from the outside by ingesting food, otherwise your body cannot produce some elements necessary in order to keep functioning. Fats are often misunderstood by the general public. They have a very bad image, however in fact, many types of fats are good for you and your health. Your body needs fats in order to perform its functions. The key here is in the types of fats that you consume and also the amount. If you want to gain weight and muscle, then fats should definitely be a part of your diet.
Fats are a wide group of compounds that are usually soluble in organic solvents, but insoluble in water. They are also called triglycerides, because chemically they are triesters of glycerol and any of the several types of fatty acids. When triglycerides are metabolized, the glycerol in them gets converted to glucose, which means usable energy for the body. The enzymes that break them down are called lipases and are produced in the pancreas.
Fats are a subset of a wider group of compounds called lipids. Lipids include triglycerides, phospholipids, and also sterols (one type of sterol is called cholesterol). You get all of these types of lipids when you eat, however triglycerides make up the most significant group of lipids in our diets. They make up around 95% of the lipids in our food and bodies.
Sources of Fats
Fats come in two forms: liquid and solid. The ones that at room temperature come in liquid form are called oils. Most oils come from plants (edible plant fats). Examples of these oils include ones from: palms, soybean, rapeseed (a subtype of rapeseed is for example canola oil), sunflower seeds, peanuts, cottonseeds, palm kernels, coconuts, olives, corn…etc. Solid fats usually come from animals. The main example are the fats from under the skin of different animals. In some cases, fats from animals can also come as oils, for example fish oils.
Sources of “good fats”:
Structure of Fats
All triglycerides have similar structures, being composed of a glycerol molecule and three fatty acids attached to it. Fatty acids are one of the main constituent parts of fats, but what are they? A fatty acid is a type of carboxylic acid and consists of a long hydrocarbon chain capped by a carboxyl group (COOH). They can serve as fuel and also form adenosine triphosphate, otherwise known as ATP. ATP can basically be described as the engine of the body, as these enzyme molecules can store energy and then release it when it is necessary.