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  • Writer's pictureEmmanuel Ofori

What are Fats?

Understanding Fat: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to discussions about health, fats often carry a negative connotation. We frequently associate them with terms like heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, and clogged arteries. But what exactly are fats?


The fats we consume and store in our bodies are known as triglycerides. These compounds consist of glycerol as the backbone that binds together three fatty acid chains. Similar to carbohydrates and protein, fat is a macronutrient and is the most calorie-dense of the three, with each gram providing 9 calories.

Energy Production

Despite its bad reputation, fat plays a crucial role in energy production. Glycerol from triglycerides can be metabolized into glucose, a process that yields ATP energy molecules. Fatty acids undergo beta-oxidation, producing acetyl CoA, which is further metabolized into energy through oxidative phosphorylation, generating significantly more ATP than glycolysis. The high energy yield of fat is advantageous for less intense exercises like jogging and swimming but less effective during high-intensity activities like sprinting and weightlifting. This process highlights the benefits of aerobic exercises for fat burning.

Types of Fats

There are two main types of fats: saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats, solid at room temperature, are fully saturated with hydrogen atoms due to single carbon bonds and are often associated with increased LDL cholesterol levels. On the other hand, unsaturated fats, either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, have double-bonded carbon atoms and are considered healthier, especially omega-3 fatty acids known for various health benefits.

Trans Fats

While unsaturated fats are generally better for health, trans fats, a type of unsaturated fat with hydrogen atoms on opposite sides of the double bond, are highly detrimental. They not only raise bad cholesterol levels but also have direct links to coronary heart disease. The FDA mandated the removal of trans fats from food products due to their harmful effects.

Fat should constitute 20 to 30 percent of daily calories, with a focus on replacing saturated fats with healthy unsaturated cis fats found in sources like fish and fish oil. It's essential to note that excess calories, regardless of their source, can be stored as fat in the body. Contrary to popular belief, fat cannot be converted into muscle. Ultimately, maintaining a balance between calorie intake and expenditure is crucial for overall health. Like always, if you’re not sure where to start, reach out to your friendly fitness professional. 

Emmanuel Ofori - eMotivates 

Your friendly neighborhood fitness professional

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