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The benefits of fats for athletes

Quite often fats have gotten a bad rap. However, some fatty acids are beneficial in many ways, others are even essential. How to differentiate good fats from bad ones, how much does our body need them and above all where to find them? We tell you everything.
Les bienfaits des graisses pour le sportif

Quite often fats have gotten a bad rap. However, some fatty acids are beneficial in many ways, others are even essential. How to differentiate good fats from bad ones, how much does our body need them and above all where to find them? We tell you everything.

Contents :

  • What are the different fats?
  • Foods that are sources of fat
  • The different benefits of fats
  • High-fat food supplements

What are the different fats?

Fatty acids are divided into three families, depending on their chemical structure, their role in the body and their benefits:

Saturated fatty acids , which are also generally called "bad fats", are considered non-essential for our body since they can be produced. They serve as fuel for the body, enter into the composition of cell membranes and are the source of certain hormones. These fats are mostly in solid or semi-solid form like butter and cheese. The consumption of saturated fatty acids must come from quality sources and be limited (risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing cholesterol levels).

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids , also called "good fats", can be produced by our body. In food, the main monounsaturated fatty acid is oleic acid (mainly contained in hazelnut and olive oil). The latter is recommended to reduce bad cholesterol levels, hence its beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential because our body cannot produce them itself: it is therefore important to provide them through food. They consist in particular of linoleic acid (LA), omega-6 and alpha-linolenic acid, (ALA) omega-3. Docosahexaenoic acid, also called DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid, also called EPA can be synthesized thanks to the contribution of alpha linolenic acid. The latter play a particularly important role in brain and visual functioning. Oily fish are particularly rich.

How much needed?

When practicing a sports activity, the recommended amount of lipids is around 0.8 to 1.2g per kg of body weight daily. They thus represent 35 to 40% of the daily energy intake.

Saturated fatty acids :

Although it is also important in certain roles in the body, the intake of saturated fatty acids should be limited to 11% of energy needs. That is to say no more than 20 g for women and 30 g for men.

Monounsaturated fatty acids :

According to data from the National Food Safety Agency (ANSES), the intake of monounsaturated fatty acids should provide 15 to 20% of calories. That is, 33 to 44 grams for an intake of 2000 kcal per day. Of course, the recommended rate changes according to the number of kcal consumed during the day, the weight and the physical condition of the athlete.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids :

Still according to the recommendations of ANSES, the intake of omega-6 must be slightly reduced and that of omega-3, increased.

Linoleic acid (LA): 4% of energy intake, i.e. 8.8 g per 2000 kcal.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 1% of energy intake, i.e. 2.2 g per 2000 kcal.

DHA: 250mg / EPA: 250mg

Foods that are sources of fat

Oilseeds : walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios…

Oils : nuts, rapeseed, flax, chia (omega 3), sunflower oil, grape seed, soy (omega 6), olive oil (omega 9);

Butter and cream : they contain a lot of saturated fat; cheese : 20 to 30% saturated fat;

Avocado : the avocado contains 15% monounsaturated fats (omega 9);

Fatty fish : salmon, tuna, sardines… (omega 3, DHA, EPA);

Meat : most animal fats are rich in saturated fatty acids, which is why their intake should be limited and must be of high quality;

Coconut : it is rich in short chain saturated fats (33%), lauric acid, and vitamins and minerals.

Avoid : all so-called refined and processed fats available in excess in certain foods such as crisps, cakes, fried foods, etc.

The different benefits of fats

Lipids are nutrients with an indispensable and essential role in the body. They are the source of our cell membranes for the synthesis of our hormones, they protect our cardiovascular health but are also a real source of energy.

Excellent source of energy

The energetic strength of fatty acids is remarkable and even surpasses that of carbohydrates: 1g of lipids = 9 kcal against 1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories. Lipids, stored by the body in fatty tissue, are used by our muscles and represent a real fuel for exercise. The heart and the brain are mainly rich in them: they therefore allow optimal functioning of the central nervous system, and contribute to the execution of movements and performance.

Responsible for hormone synthesis

Fats help ensure a good hormonal balance through the synthesis and production of hormones. Fat notably produces leptin, the hormone responsible for the feeling of satiety. This is why the intake of lipids calms sugar cravings. Adiponectin, also induced by fat intake, contributes to ensuring good cardiovascular health: it stimulates good blood circulation and lowers blood pressure.

Improves the assimilation of vitamins

Fats improve the assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K. These are essential for the well-being of our body and the protection of our cells as well as bone health. Lipids also allow the body to recover more easily and limit muscle damage and soreness after training.

Aid in weight loss

Surprisingly, the intake of good fats would help inhibit fat growth. During some diets like the keto diet, carbohydrates are reduced so that fat can be the main source of energy. This is why the body will more easily use its fat reserves and will be able to lose weight.

High-fat food supplements

Coconut oil : Nutrimuscle coconut oil is rich in medium-chain saturated fatty acids, in particular thanks to lauric acid which constitutes 44 to 53% of the oil. These fats have antibacterial, antimicrobial properties and support our organs.

Chocolate spread : The Nutrimuscle spread is an important, natural and nourishing energy supply. Indeed it is an excellent source of good lipids, which are stored in adipose tissue in the form of triglycerides. The fats are then used by the muscles during efforts and physical performance.

Whole peanut butter : Nutrimuscle peanut butter is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 6). Its contribution provides the athlete with energy for his training day, and supports him in his effort.

Ghee butter : Ghee butter is a clarified butter, that is to say, freed from casein particles and its impurities. It is rich in medium chain fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-9. But also fat-soluble vitamins that help protect cells.

Omega 3 : Omega-3 are essential fatty acids that play an essential role in our body. They help provide the recommended daily doses of EPA and DHA. Their benefits are multiple and contribute in particular to the proper functioning of the heart, blood pressure and vision.

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