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    Nutrition for weight loss: Fat

    By Nick Hall

    Good fats, essential fatty acids, Omega 3. Our awareness is growing of the importance to include more essential fatty acids into our diet. What are essential fatty acids, why do we need them and can they assist us with weight loss?

    This article will also discuss how grains and gluten can affect weight loss and how staying well hydrated can assist with weight loss.

    Essential Fatty Acids
    Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are referred to as “essential” as they are unable to be created by the body and need to be obtained from the food we eat. Most of the western population are deficient in omega 3 compared to omega 6. This deficiency can lead to inflammation and hormonal imbalances, muscle wasting, unstable blood sugar and insulin levels and weight gain.

    Signs you are lacking Omega 3
    Symptoms of omega 3 fat deficiency can include: dry skin, brittle nails and hair, “chicken skin” on the back of arms, dandruff, fatigue, poor memory, mood swings, depression and poor circulation

    How does it assist with weight loss?
    Omega 3 fatty acids provide a source of slow release energy. It helps keep blood sugar and insulin levels more stable. This also helps to suppress appetite. The more stable blood sugar and insulin is, the less energy that is stored as fat and the more efficient fat can be utilised as energy. Omega 3 fat also helps prevent muscle wasting. This is vital to weight loss as we need to maintain and increase muscle mass in order to assist with weight loss.

    Other health benefits

    Essential fatty acids help maintain proper kidney and thyroid function, regulate blood pressure reduce inflammation in the body, assist in preventing blood clots and degenerative diseases, improve digestion plus a host of other benefits.

    Good sources of Omega 3 Fat
    Good sources of omega 3 fat come from green leafy vegetables, tuna, salmon, mackerel, cod liver oil, flaxseeds and chia seeds. Flaxseeds are high in anti cancer and anti viral properties. They are one of the richest sources of omega 3. Flaxseeds are also high in fibre and protein. Flaxseed oil can become corrupted at low temperature and shouldn’t be used to cook with or to pour onto hot foods in the same way that olive oil can be used. Use it on salads as part of salad dressing

    Flaxseed meal can be used on hot foods and in smoothies. Ensure flaxseed meal is refrigerated as the oils can turn rancid once exposed to air and light. The best and cheapest option is to purchase whole flaxseeds and ground them in a coffee grinder or small blender when needed. Don’t consume flaxseeds whole as your body can only absorb the nutrients if the skin is pierced.

    A serving of Flaxseed meal or oil is around 1 tablespoon. Aim to include a serve with most of your meals.
    Chia seeds are also a good source of omega 3. Chia is also an excellent source of protein and dietary fibre. Chia seeds also contain the minerals phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium and sodium. Chia seeds can also be used in liquid meals or added to fruit and yoghurt.

    Cod liver oil is a good source of omega 3 and also contains vitamin A and D. Vitamin A is essential for healthy respiratory and digestive tract lining. Vitamin D is also essential for optimal calcium absorption.

    The aim is to introduce more omega 3 rich foods into your diet in order to increase the ratio of omega 3 to 6 in your body in order to improve health and to assist in weight loss. In order to do this, you should include a good source of omega 3 fat with each meal.

    Grains
    Over the past 20-30 years we have been told that grains and cereals should make up a good portion of our diet, such as bread, pasta and other cereals. We are told that whole wheat versions are better for us. They help fill us up, are low in fat and usually contain fibre.

    Products such as bread, pasta and other cereals contain gluten. There are reports that up to 30-50% of the population have some sort of gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Symptoms of wheat or gluten allergies include bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, and diarrhoea, muscular disturbances and bone or joint pain. Gluten has also been linked to depression and schizophrenia.

    Removing gluten from your diet will result in removing a lot of processed, energy dense carbs such as bread, pasta, pizza dough and other processed foods that contain large amounts of fast release energy that result in high blood sugar and insulin spikes which then leads to weight gain. Common sources that gluten are: Wheat, Barley, Rye, Spelt and oats contain small amounts. Flour is made from wheat which is then made into bread, cakes, pasta etc.
    Grains that don’t contain gluten are rice, corn, quinoa and amaranth.

    Water
    It is estimated that up to 75% of the world’s population is dehydrated. Waiting until you are thirsty to drink is too late, you are most likely already dehydrated. A lot of the time we can confuse thirst for hunger which leads us to eat when we are thirsty.

    How can water assist with weight loss?
    Increase level of satiety. Drinking water gives you the feeling of fullness. Drinking water before a meal will also help prevent overeating

    Replacing calorie beverages with water
    It is easy to increase your calorie consumption from consuming drinks such as soft drinks, nutrient water, tea or coffee with milk, fruit juice or alcohol. The calories from these beverages are dead calories and contain no nutritional value.

    Increased hydration – increased fat burn

    A study conducted by Boschmann et al. (88 (12): 6015), found that drinking 500 mls of water increased metabolic rate by approximately 30% within 30-40 minutes. This equates to approximately 24 calories. Drinking 2 litres of water per day would equate to around an extra 100 calories burnt per day. Maintain this on a daily and weekly basis and the extra calories burnt start to mount up.

    When to drink water and how much?
    There is no clear rule of thumb on the correct amount of water to consume. However following this rough guideline should ensure you are adequately hydrated:

    Consume approximately 500 mls of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    Consume approximately 1 litre of water in between breakfast and lunch
    Consume approximately 1 litre of water in between lunch and dinner.

    If exercising, consume approximately 300 mls before, during and immediately after training. Allow more if exercising in hot conditions.

    References:

    Simopoulos, AP. The importance of the ration of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.
    Mercola, Dr Joseph. The science is practically screaming…don’t make this trendy fat mistake.
    Mercola, Dr Joseph. Is Gluten making you fat?
    Moore, Dr Donnica. Can drinking water speed fat loss?

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