By Mary du Heaume – Dietitian APD, HBF Member Health Coach

group fitness

What is the role of fat when it comes to exercise?

In other articles we have discussed how carbohydrates and protein are particularly important when we’re active. Both carbs and protein provide about 16 kJ energy per gram, however the nutrient that provides the most concentrated source of energy is fat at 37 kJ per gram.

Fat is our body’s way of storing any excess energy we eat, no matter what the source. So eating excessive meat and bread will result in extra fat storage. An active lifestyle helps to maintain our energy balance for healthy weight management.

Healthy fats make up an important part of our diet

Including healthy fats in our diet is important for the integrity of every cell and fat is needed to cushion and protect internal organs. It is beneficial to avoid eating high fat foods before exercise as this may lead to discomfort and delay the absorption of the energy into the blood stream.

The good and the bad fats

There are essentially three types of fats:

  • Unsaturated fats – these include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are found in plant food sources like nuts, avocado, seeds, oily fish and vegetable oils. Unsaturated fats have health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Saturated fats and trans fat these are found primarily in animal sources like meat, yogurt, cheese, milk and many processed fried or baked foods. Too much saturated fat has been linked to health problems such as high cholesterol and heart disease – limit them to no more than 10% of your total daily energy intake.

For further information on recommended Australian healthy eating guides visit the Australian Government’s Eat for Health website.

The content of this article is not tailored for any particular individual’s circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.