cara clark nutrition

Part 3: Fats

Part 3: Fats

Check our Part 1 and Part 2 of our “Macros” blog series if you missed them before we dive into all things fat!

Listen and remember. Dietary fats are very different from body fat. One day soon I owe you a blog on body fat because I won’t be covering that very much today. But I want you to understand that.

Fat is the most concentrated source of energy provided by diet. When oxidized, fat yields nearly three times more energy (or calories) than amino acids (protein) or glucose (carbs). That’s where it gets a bad reputation (and often people associate dietary fat with fat on the body, maybe simply due to the name!), but as you know now, CCN is not about to give power to calories alone. We love our healthy fats and here's why…

In addition to providing energy to the body and certain organs and systems, dietary fats play a major role in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, which you probably know ( A, D, K and E). Vitamin D plays a role in the conversion of bio-nutrients, like beta carotene to Vitamin A. These vitamins themselves serve critical functions in the body; the presence of dietary fat is required for them to be absorbed. Speaking of absorption, fat is an important factor of digestion because it helps slow the secretion of acids in the stomach. This prolongs emptying time and creates the feeling of satiety after a meal, which also gives food time to break down into nutrient components for absorption. Generally, we do NOT want food going right through us, unless you’re trying to purge illness or something like that. But we aren’t going there today! It’s ok if you don’t fully understand macros on a comprehensive level, they play complex roles within our bodies. Let's first understand the importance of them and why we teach the philosophy we do. 

At CCN, fat makes up around 30 percent of our diets, though it doesn’t necessarily look like that on a plate or in a bowl. Since fats are twice as energy dense, a smaller volume of food is required to meet nutrient needs, so you typically need half (or less) the amount. Dietary fat is perhaps the most complex of the three macronutrients in terms of its diversity and function in our metabolism. I’m trying to keep this simple for anyone to understand, so bear with me. The diversity stems from the food industry manufacturing foods that do not exist in nature; like trans fat and processed hydrogenated vegetable oils for example. In general, dietary fats are subcategorized as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

As you can see, dietary fats come from all different sources and what defines them is the ratio of hydrogen to carbon atoms in fatty acid chains. I feel like this blog will need a follow up because exogenous fat (dietary fat) is so dynamic. I will share more on this soon, focused on more specific topics such as cholesterol… but I don’t want this turning into a book right here right now. It’s all truly so connected, so let’s discuss its main roles in our bodies. 

Dietary fats provide the body with the essential fatty acids, linoleic acid and linolenic acid. Essentially meaning they are required for proper functioning but cannot be synthesized by the body and therefore must be obtained through diet. These fatty acids can be obtained by consuming foods, like healthy oils, avocados, coconut, animal fats, etc. Linoleic acid (a medium chain fatty acid) and linolenic acid (a long chain fatty acid) are both vital for normal growth, cell structure and signaling, a healthy circulatory system, balanced hormones, as well as a healthy nervous system. Our nervous system is insulated with fat and the human brain itself is 60% fat. Dietary fats also help to keep the skin and your tissues healthy, supple, and youthful! I think of women in the 90s with their low fat fad diets and how out of whack they must have felt depleting their bodies of these essential nutrients. Just another example of how DIETS DON’T WORK. EVER! 

We always recommend learning by doing. When you’re trusting the process, you start to feel the difference. You are going to understand the biological role that these macronutrients play in our system, feel the difference in your body, and hopefully you might STOP toying around with diets once and for all. You may come to realize that your body weight is really just a tiny piece of the puzzle for getting to where you want to be. It’s never the only reason.

Meet Cara Clark

I began my career as a way to heal my own body and give me the energy to seek the life I was called to live.

Now, as an integrative nutritionist and wellness educator, I help people nurture their bodies through a non-dieting approach to food and the beautiful connections between physical wellness, mental and emotional health, and spirituality that have taken my own life to the next level.

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