What Does Fat Do For Your Body?

Most people associate the term "body fat" with cholesterol, obesity, and an overall unhealthy constitution. This is not true. Only excess body fat leads to certain complications. Your body just cannot handle certain structural and metabolic functions without a certain amount of fat. Your body absorbs fat present in anything you eat. After breaking down this fat, your body produces two byproducts called fatty acids and glycerol. Your liver uses glycerol to make glucose and stores it for later use as energy. Fatty acids, on the other hand, provide energy for major tissues, including the skeletal muscles and the cardiac muscles. So, fat is not always bad, but what does it do for your body?

What does Fat Do for Your Body?

To stay healthy, you need to provide your body with some fat. Your body makes use of fat to manufacture hormones and biochemical. You also need fat for energy. It is important to understand that fat can be hazardous too, so you have to understand the difference between good and bad fat.

  • Fats and related compounds, including cholesterol, are called lipids. However, solid fats are called fats, whereas liquid fats are referred to as oils. Fats provide you with energy – this is not true for cholesterol though. Fats contain more energy than proteins and carbs; in fact, you get 9 calories per fat gram and only 4 calories per gram of carbs and proteins.
  • Most of the body fat acquired from food fat is stored in the fatty tissue under your skin, but it is also visible in adipose tissue in hips, female breasts, buttocks, thighs, and male shoulders and abdomen. This visible fat is an important source of energy, gives shape to your body, helps reduce heat loss, and cushions your skin as well.
  • There is also body fat around your internal organs, which is part of every cell membrane and even works as a shock absorber to protect your delicate organs. Myelin is the fatty material that covers and protects your nerve cells requires fat too.

Types of Fat and What They Can Do

Dietary fat can be divided into three types – saturated, unsaturated, and trans fat. Different types of fat create different effects on your body and have a different role to play. What does fat do for your body? Knowing this will help you make better dietary choices.

Unsaturated Fat

Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat are good types and help improve cholesterol levels while lowering your risk for heart disease. Found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil, monounsaturated fats regulate insulin levels in the body and maintain sugar levels in the blood. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are also important for good health – eating polyunsaturated fat helps regulate heartbeat, lowers blood pressure, and lowers your risk for Type 2 diabetes.

For more sources of unsaturated fat: 7 Unsaturated Fat Food

Saturated Fat

It mainly comes from animal products, including dairy products and meat – you can also find it in palm and coconut oils. This is bad fat and puts you at a risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It also increases the risk of heart disease by increasing levels of bad cholesterol. To lower your risk of heart disease, you need to eliminate saturated fat from your diet and replace it with unsaturated fat.

Trans Fat

This type of fat is even more dangerous than saturated fat because it not just increases bad cholesterol but also decreases your good cholesterol. This increases your risk for heart disease. Moreover, having trans fat in your diet will lead to an increase in the inflammation in your body, which can also cause insulin resistance and increase your risk of Type-2 diabetes. Mostly, trans fat comes from snack foods, margarine, baked goods, and other processed foods.

How Much Do You Need?

What does fat do for your body? Fat does many things, but you should also have information about how much fat you need to stay healthy. Excessive fat consumption is bad because your body cannot burn it off completely and instead stores most of it for later use. This contributes to obesity and other health issues, such as arthritis, breathing difficulties, and heart disease.

To avoid dealing with these issues, it is important to have information about your current body fat percentage and your ideal percentage as per your age. 

Body fat percentage chart

Ideally, fat should account for 20-35% of your daily caloric intake. A gram of fat contains 9 calories, which means you should be consuming about 44-78g of fat a day. This applies if you are on a 2,000-calorie diet. Here are some other considerations:

  • Opt for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fat to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. It is unhealthy to get more than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fat.
  • Avoid trans fat as much as possible because it is the most dangerous type of fat.
  • Ensure that you do not consume more than 300mg of cholesterol a day – it is not fat but it can increase LDL cholesterol. 
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