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Fats, carbs, or both?

  • One question I have regarding nutrition is what type of foods I should be eating. In years past, I would generally avoid foods that were high in fat because I was told that fat is bad for you. However, I recently found out that many people who want to lose weight will go on a low-carb diet, and they actually had to eat more foods with full fat to make up for the lost energy from the reduced carb intake. While this makes complete sense, I began questioning whether I am following the correct diet since fat provides longer lasting energy than carbs, and perhaps I need to implement both sources of energy into my daily diet. However, how do I know how much fat and how many carbs I need to be taking?

    In regards to performance, what type of diet should I be following? Do I want to take in a lot of carbs, fats, or both? Are saturated fats a good or a bad thing (I've always been told they are terrible, yet I've also read a few articles suggesting that they may actually be healthy, contrary to popular belief)? I am a college swimmer specializing in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, and 500 free. Thank you in advance for your help!

  • There are didderent types of fats. To keep it simple, GOOD fats, and BAD fats.

    The good fats are essential, meaning that without them, one is malnourished, and the body lacks certain raw materials to manufacture important biochemicals.

    Certainly, everyone needs sufficient good fats in their diets. The problem with the former low-fat diet advice is that people did not get enough of the good fats. Still fats should be consumed in moderation, avoiding the bad fats--trans fats and hydrogenated fats.

    Fats are slow to digest, so it is better to eat them at a meal other than directly be for or after the workout, when the focus is protein, and carbs and protein.

  • Luke, while you are in college, perhaps you would be interested in some courses in nutrition or biochemistry. That information could be helpful for your athletic training, health and life in general. Best success!

  • Luke, you bring up a really common question and already I've seen some very good input. I agree that the "good fats" are essential (eggs, beef, nuts, nut butters, avocodos, grass fed butter, fish oil, etc.) are all examples of this but I think you should also know the importance of protein and the right kind of carbs. I'm not sure if you train before you eat or if you're like me and enjoy getting a little something in your stomach before training but I've always liked a mix of carbs and protein before training (oatmeal with a few eggs for example) and protein (whey protein, chocolate milk, or whole food) post training.

    I like to eat my fats as snacks to keep me satiated between meals; I mean who doesn't enjoy a serving of PB and some almonds mid day? Again, this is all personal preference just don't be afraid of fat but be aware of moderation.

    I'd also suggest doing research into macronutrients. The right percentages of fat, carbs, and protein can really make a huge difference not just in body comp but in performance and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of information out there regarding macros.

  • Protein! I think it's important to include that in your considerations, too. Generally, I follow an "all things in moderation" sort of diet, following the "rules" put forth by Michael Pollan in his book, In Defense of Food. "Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants." If you've got access to a wellness center or nice gym, make an appointment with a Nutritionist or Dietician. They can evaluate what you're eating and make suggestions and tweaks to really fit what you need and want to accomplish. Hope this helps!

  • The research seems to be shifting. In the 80s and 90s, people thought dietary fat made us fat, and there was a trend toward low-fat products which we all accepted as healthy. However, to make something taste good when it's low fat, one must often add sugar. Recent research indicates obesity levels starting to skyrocket about the time this happened. This suggests that sugar, rather than fat, may make us fat. Findings about insulin production and how our body uses sugar molecules supports the finding that sugar may be less healthy than fat.

    Some athletes (I'm thinking of long distance runners and triathletes) seem to be racing at a high level with diets that are mostly fat and protein and lower CHO. I don't know about swimming performance and all of this.

  • Okay, so you say you are a college swimmer and that you specialize in 4 different events. That's awesome! The thing with nutrition and swimmers is that because you are burning such a large amount of calories when you swim, you are going to need alot of energy from all kinds of foods which will contain both carbs and fats. It s important never to go too high in your fat NO MATTER IF THEY ARE GOOD FATS OR BAD FATS, but because you need that more immediate energy for swimming you can have more carbs in diet than the average person. That being said, if you are trying to lose weight you must go into caloric deficit which is when you burn more calories than you consume. It doesn't matter if you eat less fat or less carbs, just make sure you are in a caloric deficit and you will begin to lose fat. Make sure to keep your protein intake nice and high though in order to preserve those gains.

  • I think you should take both for your good health.

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