Transfats

23
Jul
2011

Question:

Hi Kelli, what’s the deal with transfats?  I don’t know a lot about them, but I feel like they are weighing me down and affecting my cycling.

Kelli’s Answer:

Thanks for this great question.  A lot of people have heard the term “transfats” and they are definitely something that can drag you down.

Transfats are liquid fats (such as oils) that have been chemically altered to become solid at room temperature (such as margarine).  This alteration actually changes the “shape” of the bonds (from cis to trans) in the fat.  They occur only in very small amounts in nature.  They are found in man-made processed foods such as shortening, margarine, baked goods, boxed foods, candies, snack foods, fried foods, and salad dressings.  Transfats had become more common with the increase of processed foods (and are now becoming less common with consumer demand for less and state/city laws).

They have been strongly linked to increased LDL (bad) cholesterol and heart disease.  They are positively correlated to systematic inflammation in our bodies, which increases our risk for all many of chronic disease.  What’s more, some animal studies have linked them to  (non-alcoholic) fatty liver disease and scarring on the liver, especially in diets that also contain high amounts simple sugars.  While most fats natural fats are becoming more and more exonerated, these unnatural ones need to be dropped.

Here’s some strategies to get rid of them:

  • Choose fresh, whole foods for snacks and meals.  Snack foods like fruits, veggies, raw or dry roasted nuts, seeds, and yogurt instead of boxed and processed foods such as crackers, cookies, and chips.  And even with “healthy snacks,” check out the label and ingredients lists.
  • Make baked goods & dinners from scratch using olive oil, coconut oil, nut & seed oils, nut butters, applesauce, pureed fruits or small amounts of butter instead of margarine or boxed mixes.
  • Pack your lunch instead of eating Fast Foods.
  • Make quick, easy and delicious dinners at home instead of eating Fast Foods.
  • Avoid “convenience dinners” such as Hamburger Helper, Rice-o-Roni, and frozen meals that contain partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Double check “sports nutrition” foods and bars to make sure they do not contain “partially hydrogenated fats.”
  • Within the “Total Fat” section of a nutrition label, you’ll usually find the amount of saturated fats and transfats.  Although it may be confusing, even when a type of fat is listed as “0,” it may actually be anywhere from 0-0.4 grams (they are allowed to round down).  Of course, once a food manufacturer has the amount low enough to label it as zero, you bet your spandex it will claim (in big letters) on the packaging that it is free of transfats.  This small labeling situation is a big problem because even small amounts are potentially harmful.  So, go beyond the nutrition label to the ingredients list.  Anytime you see partially hydrogenated oil, the product has trans-fats – avoid these products as much as possible!
  • With this knowledge, read labels/ingredients lists and choose foods that do not contain trans-fats.  The use of these fats may even vary between food brands.  For instance, some brands of microwave popcorn have transfats whiles others do not.

Don’t let ’em keep you down.  A healthy cyclist  is a strong cyclist.  Protect your heart, liver, and overall health by using natural, healthy fats and dropping the Transfats!

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

Enjoy Your Ride

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Answer:

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Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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