There is this common misconception that diets should have 0% fat. This shouldn’t be the case. Although dieting is meant to reduce body fat, this doesn’t mean that one should avoid fats completely when dieting. This is because fats in the diet play a crucial role. In fact, there are some bodily processes that can’t go on properly without fats acquired from our diets. This shows that fats are mandatory in our diet even when dieting for us to remain healthy. Below are some of the important functions of fats.
1. Fats are important for manufacturing prostaglandins and hormones. Prostaglandins and hormones are important because they regulate most bodily functions like; immune system functions, reproductive activity and digestion. Without fats in the diet, the body would be unable to regulate bodily functions effectively. For your body to continue to function normally during your diet, you shouldn’t avoid eating fat.
2. Fats keep the digestive tract smooth: Eating fats during your diet also ensures that your digestive tract is kept smooth thus allowing food to move freely. Avoiding fats during your diet can therefore result in problems such as constipation and indigestion which can result in sickness or serious health complications.
3. Fats act as the foundation of cell membranes: Fats are critical for ensuring brain development and maintenance. This is because they act as a foundation for all cells including brain cells. By acting as building blocks for cells, fats support other functions i.e. neurotransmission. Lack of fat when dieting can therefore hinder proper brain development, maintenance, neurotransmission among other process.
4. Protecting nerves and body organs: It is also important to note that fats help in protecting nerves. All nerves are surrounded by a protective sheath known as myelin sheath. This sheath is composed mostly of fats. If we avoid eating fats during dieting, the myelin sheath can wear out damaging nerves or causing the nerves to die. It is also important to note that fats protect body organs. All body organs i.e. heart, lungs, kidneys e.t.c. are surrounded by layers of fats which act as shock absorbers. Lack of fat in the diet when dieting can result in less fat around crucial body organs which can in turn cause organ damage or failure.
5. Temperature regulation and providing energy: Fats are also crucial for regulating body temperature. The body stores and burns fat depending on the temperature needs. Apart from regulation of temperature, fat burning also helps in providing the body with energy. Fats are therefore important even during dieting because without fats, the body would have a problem regulating temperature and producing energy.
6. Fats help to absorb nutrients: Fats (saturated fats) are also essential in the diet because they aid in the absorption of important nutrients. For instance, vitamins A & E are soluble in fat. When they dissolve in fats, they are absorbed better into the body. These vitamins (click here to read more about the need of vitamins in general) are essential in terms of detoxifying the body. Vitamins A & E help to prevent the damage caused to cells by free-radicals. In the case of someone eating low fat diets i.e. during dieting, this reduces anti-oxidation activity because essential nutrients can’t be absorbed effectively to detoxify the body. Other essential nutrients that are absorbed by fats include; calcium. Avoiding fats during dieting therefore means that your body will not get an adequate supply of these nutrients.
7. Fats contain essential fatty acids and omega 3/6: avoiding fats during dieting also deprives the body off essential fats and fatty acids. Low fat diets lack proper quantities of essential fatty acids. It is important to note that the body doesn’t produce essential fatty acids. They must therefore be acquired from eating a healthy diet. The ratio between Omega 3 and the essential 6 amino acids has to be balanced for the body to remain healthy. Vegetable oils are excellent sources of omega 3 and 6 fats. Lack of fats can therefore result in a deficiency in essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6 which are vital in terms of cognitive among other function.
In summary, being on diet should not mean that you eliminate fats from your diet. As seen above, fats are very essential for the body to function properly. They must therefore be included in our daily diets whether we are on diet or not.