If you want to be able to skate as long as possible, eat quality foods and fuel your body with the nutrients in fruits, veggies and quality protein sources.
– Nick Dompierre
fat & skateboarding.
Alright next up in the skate nutrition series we’re heading onto fat. Ever since back in the days fat has been neglected and abused, people went crazy over products like low-fat yoghurts, at least in every community other than the skate community, because we just skated and didn’t really give a shit.
But in reality we definitely should give a shit, as fat is essential for your skating. In this article/video I’ll cover “bad” fats, healthy fats, fat balance, and an easy way to start adding a variety of fats into your diet to enhance how you skate and how you feel..
why do we need fat?
When people talk about sports performance they usually focus on carbs and protein, and fat kind of gets forgotten about. Although it is true that monching on an avocado for your mid-sesh nutrition isn't going to help you skate better in the moment, not getting enough fat, or eating too much of one type of fat will leave you and your skating lacking over time. As always you’ve gotta take that holistic approach and hit nutrition from every angle..
When most people think of fat, they think of it as being nothing more than the reason to why their ass or man-boobs are starting to expand, and although it can definitely have that effect, it’s much more than that...
First off, it’s the largest energy supply in the body; you’ve got enough energy in fat to power multiple marathons in a row, so unlike carbohydrates (which we’ll cover in the next article/video), running out of fat as energy isn’t something to worry about.
Fat helps form all the cells in your body, brain and nervous system, so when people say “you are what you eat”, this is especially true for fat, as how fluid or rigid your cells are depends on which types of fat you’re eating the most. Their fluidity then affects how they function and ultimately how you function and feel, this is one of the reasons why “fat balance” is so important, but we’ll get to that later.
It also helps your body transport and absorb certain vitamins - specifically vitamins A, D, E and K - meaning that not eating enough fat can leave you deficient in these vitamins. It's also essential for making and keeping your hormones functioning, it also provides specific fats called omega 3 and 6, which the body can’t make alone, and getting the right balance and amount of fats can even prevents certain diseases.
So people always talk about fat being bad, but is there really such a thing as a bad fat?
In reality, the only truly bad fats are part of a category called “trans fats”. The majority of trans fats are man made and are becoming illegal pretty much everywhere because they’ve been linked to a shit-load of serious health issues, so avoid these ones as much as possible. Look out for things like “hydrogenated oil” or “hydrogenated *anything*” on the food labels, take the pack off the shelf, throw it on the floor and then beat it with your board. You shouldn’t get any more than 1% of your daily calories from trans fats.
Another category of fat that often gets a bad rep is saturated fat, which is found in foods like beef, pork, lamb, eggs, dairy, coconut and cacao. Many foods have a variety of different fat types - called their "fat profile", and for animal foods, the diet that animal was raised on will affect the different amounts of fat in the food. Whenever possible try and go for grass-fed meat, organic farmed meat, or wild-caught fish for a better fat profile.
Now, saturated fat isn’t actually bad and certain saturated fats actually have some solid health benefits, the problem is really just eating too much saturated fat, or too much processed saturated fat, and especially if that’s combined with a lot of refined sugars - these combos have also been linked to health issues.
So in reality the problem is more just a shitty diet, than saturated fat. The classic Western diet is extra high in saturated fat, because not only is it full of meat and dairy, but also a lot of processed foods that are also made with lots of cheap, low quality oils like canola, soybean, palm oil, etc. which are high in saturated fat as well. Avoiding a lot of these cheaper oils is a good way to go because they’re often extra high in another type of fat called omega 6, which we’ll get to later.
Most people should aim to get less than 10% of their daily calories from saturated fat.
healthy fats or a healthy diet?
So getting rid of saturated fat isn’t the answer, it’s about making sure you’re eating it in balance with the other types of fat - specifically a category called “unsaturated fats”, which can be split up into "monounsaturated fats" and "polyunsaturated fats".
It’s these unsaturated fats that people think of when they think of “healthy fats”, and athough most foods will have a blend of all different types of fat, ones higher in unsaturated fat are foods like - avocado, nuts, seeds, fatty fish like salmon and trout, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Now although these fats are healthy, with our boss level knowledge we now know that in reality a healthy diet should also include some saturated fat as well, and this is what "fat balance" is. Not eating too much of saturated fat, but also making sure you're balancing it out with - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated - unsaturated fats. As always, it’s all about that yin-yang balance.
omega 3 to 6 ratio.
Our hunter-gatherer brothers and sisters from the past ate a wide variety of all types of fats from whole foods, and not only did that give them a balance of saturated and unsaturated fats, but it also helped them balance out something called the "omega 3 to 6 ratio" as well; meaning how much omega 3 you eat compared to omega 6.
Remember I said omega 3 and 6 are two fats your body can’t make on its own, and also that processed food is higher in omega 6? Well these two fats have pretty much opposite jobs in the body; omega 3 does things like: reduce inflammation, increase blood flow, support the immune system, and even reduce pain, amongst other things. On the other hand, some of the things omega 6 does are: increase inflammation, reduce blood flow, and increase pain. Although these things sound bad, they’re essential for things like healing from wounds and recovering from our sessions.
As omega 3 and 6 have pretty much opposite jobs, making sure we balance the amount of omega 3 and 6 that we eat is essential for good health and feeling as on point as you could when you go skate. Hunter-gatherers had an omega 3:6 ratio of about 1:2 to 1:8, but now we’re closer 1:10 to 1:20! So we’re way out of balance, and this problem really just comes from a shitty diet; that bastarding Western diet and all the processed foods we eat.
When it comes down to getting enough omega 3 in your diet, there are three types of omega 3: ALA, DHA and EPA. We can get a lot of of ALA from foods like nuts and seeds, but DHA and EPA we can only get in sufficient quantities from either fatty-fish or algae (the food of the fish). If you don’t eat fish or algae on a regular basis, an omega 3 supplement might be a good idea.
plant based fats.
- Avocado & avocado oil
- Cold-pressed nut & seed oils
- Fresh coconut & coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut & seed butters
- Olives & extra-virgin olive oil
animal based fats.
- Aged cheese*
- Higher-fat dairy*
- Egg yolks*
- Fatty cuts of beef & porkk*
- Fatty cuts of lamb*
- Fatty cuts of poultry*
- Fatty fish - salmon, herring&
* better quality fats from grass-fed/organic farming/wild-caught
how to eat the right fats in the right amounts.
Although all this shit about eating the right balance of fat and balancing your omega 3:6 ratios is probably leaving you a little confused and expecting some super high tech solution, but the fix is actually pretty simple.
I’ve noticed so many times as I study more about health, that the solution is often found in getting back to nature and living how we used to live, and it’s no different with fat. Just like our hunter-gatherer brothers and sisters that used to thrive on a wide variety of different fats from a variety of whole foods or minimally processed foods, so should most of us.
By focusing on eating a wide variety of different fats from a variety of whole foods or minimally processed foods, along with avoiding a lot of processed and refined foods we should naturally get a healthy balance of the different fat types, along with improving our omega 3:6 ratio.
Leading on from the palm-size portion of protein from last week’s video, with fats the portion is the "thumb-size portion". Aim to get about 1-2 thumb-size portions of fat per meal. You might want to up that to 2-3+ if you’re on regular heavy missions or you're trying to up your calorie intake for whatever reason. And like I said about omega 3, if you're not eating fatty-fish or algae regularly, you might want to consider a supplement.