Fat for Runners?

We should avoid fat, shouldn't we? Well... Not exactly. Some types of fats, like omega-3 and omega-6 for example, are essential for a strong immunology system and healthy skin.


Most of the foods have more than one type of fat. While some foods have some fat types that are bad for your health, others, like nuts, have a great combination of omega-3, omega-6 and monounsaturated fat.

See the different types of fats in the table below:

Trans fatty acid
Found in margarine, french fries and butter cookies. This type of fat has no benefice for your health and raises the cholesterol level and heart diseases risk. Try to avoid.

Saturated fats
Found in dairy foods, coconut and fat meat. Some kinds of saturated fats, like estearic acid found in chocolate and beef, don't raise your cholesterol level. But other types can clog your arteries. Try to limit the intake below of 10% of the total calories.

Omega 6
Found in vegetal oil, nuts and seeds. This type can reduce the bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels. Too much omega-6 intake can also reduce the levels of good HDL cholesterol. Limit the intake to 10% the total calories consumed.

Omega 3
Found in fat fishes, soy oil and nuts. This type of fat reduces your triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Too much omega-3 can slow your blood coagulation.

Monounsaturated fat
Found in olive oil, avocado and peanut. This type of fat reduces the LDL and cholesterol levels.

Sea foods for runners

Sea foods are great choice for the runners menu. Besides providing omega-3 fat, that reduces triglycerides and cholesterol levels, sea foods also are a good source of protein, zinc, iron and cooper that help runners to recover after the training. A research made by American Medical Association concluded that eating fish once a week can reduce by half your risk of a sudden heart stroke.

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Fat as fuel?

You already know some types of fats are essential for a good health, but fat can also make you run farther.

Fat is a concentrated energy source. While each gram of carbohydrate has 4 kcal, one gram of fat provides 9 kcal of energy. Besides, our fat energy stores are much abundant. On average, a runner has more than 60,000 kcal from fat energy stores and less than 2,000 from carbohydrate energy stores. Then you can see why fat is so important when you are exercising for a long time.

High level long-distance runners use more fat as energy source, so they save their glycogen stores and are able to exercise for a longer time. A study concluded that endurance athletes exercising at 80% of their max Vo2 get just 65% of the energy from carbohydrate, while the non-athletes get 86% of the energy from carbohydrate.

During low intensity work-outs the runner gets more than half of the energy from fat. Another factor influencing the using of fat as an energy source is the work-out duration. During moderate intensity (55-75% max Vo2) long duration work-outs (more than 90 minutes) there is a progressive increasing of the use of fat as the energy source.

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Related article:
Fat facts

This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.

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