To many people, fat is loaded, nutritionally, but also as a topic. That can partly be explained by the fact that fat gives more energy than other nutrients. One gram of fat contains 9 kcal, which is twice as much as one gram of carbohydrates or protein. Food is not just about calories, however, and we should not exclude fat from our diets. The body needs fat in order to build and repair cells, produce hormones and hormone-like substances. It also aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. Certain fats also provide us with essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. The essential fatty acids affect a number of bodily functions, such as the immune system, blood pressure and the blood’s ability to clot.
The important thing when it comes to fat is to consume the correct amount and the right type of fat. But what is the correct amount? It varies between individuals. As a general rule, about one third of the energy consumed should be from fat. There are different types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. The polyunsaturated fats carry essential fatty acids and are consequently particularly important. The typical diet often leads to an overconsumption of saturated fats and not enough polyunsaturated fat. Cutting back on the amount of saturated fat in our diet, in combination with an increased consumption of unsaturated fat, may also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Saturated fat is present in animalistic food and some vegetable oils, for example in cream, ice-cream, cakes, full fat milk and soured milk, butter, cheese, fatty meat and meat products, coconut oil and palm oil. By replacing full fat dairy products with lower fat ones, you can reduce the saturated food in your diet. That’s one of the reasons why Trainimal Woman recommends choosing low-fat dairy products that contain less fat.
Larger quantities of unsaturated fats are found in, for example, rapeseed and olive oils, nuts, seeds, avocado and oily fish, such as salmon. This means that it might be better to choose a low-fat yoghurt and adding seeds or nuts for healthier fats.
Fat is controversial because it is high in energy. Another question is whether an insufficient intake can adversely affect women’s fertility. Diet affects both women’s and men’s fertility. The most important thing about diet is to look at it in context. Healthy eating and getting enough nutrients can affect fertility favourably. Fat is one of these nutrients, but it is also important to get enough of other essential nutrients and eating a varied and healthy diet. Consuming a lot of alcohol and caffeine can adversely affect ovulation.
Being a healthy weight is also beneficial. Obesity might reduce the possibility to conceive. Those who are overweight or obese could benefit from losing weight. However, it is also important not to be underweight and to eat enough. Being underweight and malnourished can prevent ovulation and too low an energy intake might lead to hormonal imbalances and irregular menstruation. A woman might also be of a healthy weight and still suffer relative energy deficiency. This might manifest itself as irregular, or complete absence of, menstruation.
There are, of course, many other factors that affect fertility, such as age, mobility and fitness, tobacco consumption, illnesses and medication. An overall healthy lifestyle favours fertility, as well as general well-being.
By Lova Molin
References (in swedish)
Rauh MJ, Nichols JF, Barrack MT. Relationships among injury and disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction, and low bone mineral density in high school athletes: a prospective study. J Athl Train. 2010 May-Jun;45(3):243-52.