Confused by dietary fats? As an active woman, you need fats for three reasons: To function (they help your body absorb the essential vitamins A, D, E and K), to build muscle (fats aid testosterone production, a main trigger in muscle growth) and to stay slim (fats take longer to digest so you end up feeling full longer, warding off the urge to overeat).
If you don’t eat enough, “You’ll break down muscle for energy, essentially lowering your metabolism,” says Ohio-based sports nutritionist Dawn Weatherwax-Fall, RD, CSSD. The key is to eat mostly healthy fats. The problem: They’re not always clearly marked on food labels, and deciphering grams and percentages can be dizzying if math isn’t your forte. For a non-intimidating way to really “get” fat, follow this advice:
Eat More: Mono and Poly
Known collectively as “the healthy fats,” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help you in abundant, yet different, ways. Mono fats include olive oil, almonds, seeds, avocados and natural nut butters. Poly fats are made up of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and are found in soybean and canola oils, walnuts, tuna, wild salmon and other cold-water fish. An easy way to differentiate between the two is to think of mono fats as the bad-cholesterol (LDL) and belly-fat reducers and poly fats as the inflammation fighters and brain boosters. Both types of fat also help keep you trim by stabilizing blood sugar and preventing cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods. The key to eating mono and poly fats is portion control.