3 Types of Body Fat. Your Body Shape and Fat Patterning

BODY FAT

There are 3 types of body fat, there are 2 female body shapes.  I have rolls. If you want to find my fat you just have to pinch me. These lovely rolls sit around my waist and on my back. My fat is ‘subcutaneous’ meaning that it lies under the skin for all to pinch! I do not have the typical female fat patterning. Most women have smaller waists and hold fat on their butt, hips, and thighs, often giving a nice curvy look. No, this is not me. My legs are slim and hips narrow; you may see me in shorts but never in a belly shirt.

Body fat is stored in different ways and zoned differently between men and women. The rolls I have are subcutaneous fat. Other people, especially women, have ‘intramuscular triglycerides’ (IMTG) and their fat is stored in the muscle. Imagine a slab of meat. Some meat has the fat layer on the top (that would be me) and is the type of fat you may ask the butcher to trim off, whereas other meat has a marbled effect, with fat running throughout.  That is IMTG (intramuscular triglycerides)

IMTGs, in my opinion, are more attractive. It is those curvy ladies, the girls with solid butts and thighs but not a roll to be seen, the girls you see in music videos with the tiny waists, curvy behinds, and shapely legs. Their fat is within the muscle which means you cannot pinch it. It is the same fat that some women confuse with muscle.  They mistakenly think they have heavily muscled thighs, in most cases, it is muscle full of fat.

I have known ladies that don’t want to train legs because they think their legs are muscular enough already. In most cases, the reality is that they are holding fat in their legs which makes them look big. It would be a real mistake NOT to train that area because that lower body fat is not going anywhere unless it is burnt up as fuel. The fear of their legs getting even bigger is unfounded because if the exercise uses some of that fat for fuel, their trained legs will most certainly get smaller.

IMTGs show up in women as heavier triceps, solid hips and butt and thighs that dominate. Overall I might have less fat than these women, but these ladies have a much sexier way of carrying any excess.

The ultimate test is the flex test.  If you flex your thigh muscles and you don’t see any separation, then what you are looking at is fat. The muscle may appear to be rock hard, but if there are no lines to show the different muscles of the thigh, then you looking at fat.  If on the other hand you flex your legs and you can see all sorts of detail going on, then you are looking at some beautiful, lean muscular legs.

It is the people with the IMTGs that I have difficulty measuring their body fat using manual calipers. The calipers measure the thickness of the skin, and if your fat is underneath the skin like mine, then it’s a simple measurement to take. When a person’s fat is in the muscle, I cannot pinch it using calipers, and the reading is often inaccurate. For this reason, I also use an ultrasound device that can measure body fat held in muscle.

Visceral fat. This is the dangerous fat that has a strong link to heart disease. Visceral fat wraps itself around the organs and makes for a protruding mid section. Its the guy with the 42-inch waist that proudly lifts up his shirt to show how solid his “abs” are, proudly he slaps them declaring “It’s all muscle, baby.”
I can see how the confusion arises as the midsection is indeed solid and you would expect fat to be soft and squishy, but a 42-inch waistline with 18-inch thighs is neither healthy nor attractive. If your waist measurement is greater than your hip measurement, it is a reason to be concerned, rolls or no rolls.

This visceral abdominal fat is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, type II diabetes and premature death.

So we have subcutaneous fat (SQ fat), easy to see, easy to measure and hard to ignore. We have intramuscular triglycerides (IMTG), the fat stored within the muscle, can look sexy, is hard to pinch and often mistaken for lean mass. Thirdly visceral fat that wraps around the organs making for a turtle belly often joked about but far from being a laughing matter due to its known relationship with heart disease.

One more place we find fat is in our blood. The liver makes fat and releases it into the blood as Triglycerides (TG). You may have seen it in the results from a blood test. It is important to know how much fat is in your blood as this may indicate a necessary nutritional adjustment. High triglycerides can show that you are eating too many carbs because an excess of carbohydrates will be turned into fat by the liver.

Triglycerides are the storage form of fat.  As the name suggests, TRI-GLYcerides are comprised of 3 fatty acids and 1 unit of glycerol.

Section 2.   BODY SHAPE & BODY TYPES

BODY SHAPE

Our body shape is dependant on our bone structure and on where our fat decides to take up residence. Fat patterning is firstly a matter of gender. Men hold more upper body fat, especially on their torso, back, waistline and chest. Women seem to have a wider range when it comes to body shape, from the very estrogenic body to the very androgenic body.

Estrogenic women, at one end of the spectrum, are usually shorter, bustier, have small waists and larger hips and thighs. On the other end of the spectrum is the more androgenic shape. These women are taller, have smaller busts and blockier waistlines with comparatively slim hips and thighs. The estrogenic women usually have rounder faces, whereas the androgenic women have squarer jaws. These are two opposite ends of the spectrum, and there lies everything in between. I have a much more androgenic, straight up and down physique (with rolls).

I can eat well and train hard, but I will never create the curves of Shakira or the Kardashian clan. Likewise, they could spend their fortunes and never have my boyish lines – although I doubt that would be a good business move for any of them.

Identify with your body shape and how you hold fat, own it and get over any hangups you might have.  Be the best version of yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. If you need someone to aspire to please pick someone who has the same body type and fat patterning as you.  You will be continually frustrated is you idolize a body type that is not your own.

BODY TYPES

There are three classic body types that apply to both men and women.

1.     ECTOMORPH
This is the person who seemingly can eat what they want and never gain weight.  They have a lighter frame and very few curves. A true ectomorph will have slightly pointy facial features, long fingers, and fine hair. Ironically they are often very active or hyper active people. Infuriatingly, with no noticeable weight issue, they tend to love exercise. It’s the skinny chick that runs 8 miles a day or that annoying guy in the office that is still full of life well after 5 pm.
Ectomorphs get very little sympathy when they complain about their weight, but in their defense when they do hold weight it is in their midsection.  Lift up their shirts, and they have a little pouch of fat that drives them mad.  When they try to lose weight they get even skinner, and that pouch stays put.
“Ectos” are hard gainers – it’s a real challenge for them to build muscle even though pound for pound they can be extremely strong.

2.    MESOMORPH
A “Meso” can build muscle quite quickly. but they can also gain fat. This is your American football player or almost any strength athlete. A true meso will get great results if their nutrition and training is on point. They have the advantage of being able to build muscle, which increases their metabolic rate and makes fat loss easier.
Meso’s can eat pizza and drink beer and get away with it for a little while, it will, however, catch up with them eventually.
If I had to identify myself with a body type, I would consider myself a Mesomorph.
Female Mesomorphs have an athletic build, fewer curves, with more of a boyish figure.

3.    ENDOMORPH
Endomorphs can build muscle but they can also carry a lot of body fat. A true “Endo” will have a rounder face, shorter pudgier fingers, and toes and they have beautiful skin that is less prone to wrinkles. Endo’s have a much tougher time losing weight, however it is not impossible. When they do lose the weight, they may appear to be closer to a Mesomorph but they have a lot less wiggle room and have to be diligent if they want to keep the weight off.

Although we have three body types, most people will fall somewhere between two of them. You may identify yourself as an “Ecto-Meso” or  “Meso-Endo.”  These classifications are useful when determining the most effective way to exercise and diet. By identifying with a body type, you can put your focus in the right place. If you are working with a personal trainer or nutritionist, it should be one of the first things they take into account.

The classifications should not be seen as limitations. We all know the Ectomorph/hard gainer that built a killer gym physique and we all know the Endomorph who dropped the weight revealing a whole new body shape and went on the inspire millions

Examples

A True Female Ectomorph in her 30s:
This lady needs to lift big weights.  She is never going to get “too big” and the muscle she does build will add shape to her small frame.  This lady does not need to follow a restrictive diet; her main concern will be the protein necessary to build muscle.
This lady will be conscious of her belly pouch, and a good nutritionist will show her how to time her higher carbohydrate meals around her workouts to allow her to maximise fat burning without sacrificing her muscle gains.

A True Male Endomorph in his 30s:
This guy is concerned about his weight. It would be a mistake to focus his workout time on lifting heavy weights because although he is carrying a fair amount of fat, he probably has a lot of muscle as well.
A good trainer will incorporate more circuit training, with resistance work at a much faster pace. Both moderate intensity and high-intensity training will be beneficial when combined with a restriction on carbohydrates. If carbohydrates are allowed, they will be eaten immediately after a workout (see the previous chapter regarding carbohydrate storage)

A True Mesomorph in their 40s, male or female:
These people have enjoyed a carefree time during their 20s and 30s. They worked out, got great results and if they gained a few pounds they could sharpen their diet and be back on track in no time.
These blessed individuals can get a wake-up call in their 40’s.
The athlete that is no longer competing gains weight and now its a challenge to get it off.  This is a person who has never had to work too hard on their body composition; just that identity shift can be a real obstacle for the former athlete.

Some Mesos in their 40s and 50s will find their inner athlete again and soar, while others don’t change their eating habits and with less activity, they slide into more of an Endomorph physique.

Former Mesomorphs cling to their identity of years gone by, posting photos 20 years old.  Its now that the tortoise beats the hare.  The ectomorphs and endomorphs that have been struggling all the while at long last sail past the failing meso proving hard work does pay off.

If you have spent your whole adult life working hard to gain or lose weight you are more equipped to stay in shape than the Mesomorph approaching middle age who suddenly finds they cant button their pants

A good personal trainer or nutritionist will recognize a (former) Mesomorph and will guide them accordingly. A more balanced nutrition plan with high-Intensity cardio and resistance training will usually be enough for them to shed the excess pounds.  The biggest obstacle here is a Mesomorph and the identity shift they have to come to terms with.

Consider the following:
How do you store your body fat? (subcutaneous, intramuscular and/or visceral)
Ladies, are you curvy or are you more straight up and down?
Ladies and Gentlemen, which body type do you identify with?

Section 3    OUR CHANGING BODY SHAPE

As you go through life, your body shape may change. Sex hormones decline, waistlines thicken and ladies as you get past menopause you might find that those thighs you hated actually slim down. We spoke earlier about the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and how it helps cells to store fat. When women go through menopause, LPL activity is reduced in the lower body and increased in the upper body, legs slim down while waistlines grow. We know this as “middle-age spread”. The same goes for men; as they age testosterone decreases and this hormonal shift increases LPL activity in the upper body and fat goes to the chest and waistline.

The hormonal changes during pregnancy promote fat distribution. LPL activity is increased in the lower body, and weight is gained in the butt, hips, and thighs.  Once the baby is born, LPL activity decreases in the lower body and increases in the breast tissue.

Another interesting observation is with yo-yo dieting; people who diet to lose weight only to regain it and repeat the cycle over and over.  This fluctuation in weight leads to an increase in upper body fat. I have seen this a great deal in the fitness industry.  Cute young girls with teeny waists do one competition diet after another and that waist starts to grow.  Within just a few years of competing, they are not wearing those bra tops in the offseason anymore.

Ladies with heavy triceps nearly always hold fat in their upper hamstring area.  Heavy arms usually mean heavy legs but there might be a tiny waist in between.

Hormones determine weight gain, weight loss, and body shape.

A young girl suffered burns to her lower arm and hand, doctors took skin grafts from her thighs to repair the damage. Thirty years later she had to have liposuction to remove fat from her forearm.  This is how powerful hormones are in governing fat distribution.

Fat is itself an organ and where hormones are stored and created. We have found at least 19 different hormones in fat! Too much body fat can create a diseased state and a great many health risks can be reduced by shedding excess weight. One example of this is estrogen.  There are 3 types of estrogen. One type of estrogen is found in fat and the more fat you have the more of this estrogen you have also. One form of breast cancer is linked to this estrogen.  When we have excess fat we may be increasing our risk of this cancer because of the increased estrogen.

Section 4    WHY FAT IS A GOOD THING?

Fat is future energy; excess nutrients stored in adipose tissue aka fat. We should grateful that we store our energy as fat because it doesn’t hold onto too much water.
Carbohydrates are also fuel, and they can be stored in our muscle as glycogen.  For every unit of glycogen, we hold onto 2 units of water. When we cut carbohydrates, we use up the glycogen.  When the glycogen unit is gone there is nothing to hold the water units.  Initially, on a low carb diet, this is the weight loss you see.

If we stored all of our energy as carbohydrates we would also hold a huge amount of water. A 165 lb person with 20% body fat would weigh over 240 lbs if that energy were stored as carbohydrates and not as fat.
Thankfully there is a limit to how many carbohydrates can be stored in muscle.

Coming us next Fat Formation, how we gain fat and YES Fat Breakdown  – the one way we can breakdown and stored bodyfat and change our body shape!

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Fat and the Big Fat Misconceptions

FAT, it all got a little confusing

In this blog, I have covered 2 macronutrients.  We discussed Protein and we discussed Carbohydrates.  Now it is the turn of Fat!  This blog is aimed at those of you 35+ which would mean born after 1982.  Some of us have been around a little longer and have seen the health industry turn tail when it comes to fat.  For decades Fat was demonized, we were terrified of it, then we were told, all is forgiven and fatwas ok to eat.  That’s all well and good but when you are brought up with one belief system it’s not that easy to change a behavior.  Fat and the big fat misconceptions.

Fat is indeed our fabulous friend but it does come with a few caveats.  Before you put a pat of butter and a tablespoon of sour cream on your potato, read on.

I first started competing in bodybuilding in the mid-1980s when fat was the devil. It was blamed for everything, from heart disease to saddle bags. Fat was the F word. Now, almost 40 years later we know how wrong we were.  Fat is now fabulous, but it’s going to take a long time to change the thinking that has been ingrained into us for decades. For many people, the calorie is still king, and because fat is more energy dense and has more calories per unit of weight than protein or carbohydrates, it still makes people nervous.

We can see it almost as a generational shift.  My grandmother had no fear of fat, eating egg yolks, butter, full milk and plenty of fatty meat.  My mother was brought up on these foods and yet as her era grew up so did the food industry.  Food became big business. Foods never seen on the table appeared thanks to improvements in transportation. My grandparents had the first television on their street, within a few years they had multiple channels and not long after came the adverts, food became big business.

Refrigeration, production, transportation and the microwave all brought new food choices to the family dining table.  Women started to exercise and the weight loss industry was born.

I started competing in the fitness world as a teenager and the best dieting advice I got from my mentor was to eat as little as possible and avoid fat completely.

My first competition diet at 18 years old was 800 calories a day and zero fat for the statutory 12 weeks.

I vividly remember, sitting in a chair at the gym, being told; “If you can eat less than that, even better.”

I have no idea how I stuck to that diet, as I was also doing a business degree and working several nights a week.  I put it down to having the energy of an 18-year-old. I remember my grandmother being perplexed by the whole thing.

Today we know that fat is our fabulous friend, and my grandmother had been right all along with her whole eggs and cod liver oil, yet there is still resistance from my generation and the generation before me. Understandably, it is confusing as everything we were brought up with is being turned on its head.  What they thought was right is now wrong and it’s human nature to want to be right.  Change is uncomfortable.

 

Jettisoning long-held beliefs is difficult. People don’t want the beliefs they were brought up with to be wrong.  It would mean they had been making wrong choices all their lives and no one likes to be wrong!

You cannot be persuaded or bribed away from a belief. Beliefs lie at the very core of who we are.  Understanding is the only way you can get someone to let go of something they hold dear.  We used to think the world was flat.  Had we simply been told it was round, not flat, I doubt any of us could have been persuaded.  People had to sail around the world (without falling off ) and gravity had to be explained before we exchanged our map for a globe.  Same goes for food. For those of you still counting calories and fat grams, I hope to give you enough proof that will allow you to let go of some psychological baggage concerning food and nutrition.

 

  1. FAT OUR FABULOUS FRIEND

Unlike the other two macronutrients, protein and carbohydrates, I would venture to say that fat is the only one you can happily eat by itself. You may feel that you are a carbohydrate addict but aren’t those carbs just a delivery system for something else? That bread becomes great when you spread something on it, so does that potato, and who eats pasta without a sauce?

Even the proteins usually need a little help.  Chicken and fish are both bland without adding some flavor, and I doubt you would want a burger with nothing but the meat inside the bun.

Fat, however, can go naked and alone.  Whole eggs, cheese, nuts, cream, and avocado can all go solo. Fat is our fabulous, flavorful friend and we were denied it for decades.

Another word for fat is “lipid”. A lipid molecule is a fat-like molecule that cannot dissolve in water.

Fat is more energy dense than carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates and protein have four calories per gram. Fat has nine calories per gram and this scared the hell out of us for half a century.  So fat has more calories (energy) than protein or carbohydrates, and this might be concerning if we ate the same quantity of fats as we do other foods.  However, we are not likely to substitute a huge bowl of pasta with a huge bowl of cream cheese. Nor would we want to swap a potato for the same amount of peanut butter or order a 6oz slab of avocado.

 

It is true that the energy value of fat is greater than the other two macronutrients, but the reality is we don’t eat fat in the same quantities that we eat protein or carbohydrates.

I’m not going to get into the history of how fat got such a bad rap.  I will say that there were some dubious studies over 50 years ago that led to some far-reaching assumptions.

 

 

A DIFFERENT PATH

When we eat fats, they are broken down into single fatty acids just like protein had to be broken down into amino acids.

Fat can be used for energy; fats are needed for the fat-soluble vitamins D E K and A, fat is also the building block for cell membranes, hormones, and brain function.

Every cell we have is surrounded by a cell membrane which is made up partly of the dietary fat we consume.  Optimal health and aging have to do with keeping our cells in good shape.  To keep cells healthy we have to get nutrients and oxygen to them and to do this they have to pass through the fatty membrane surrounding the cell.  If we eat good quality fats, that membrane is permeable, and that makes the transportation easy. If that membrane is rigid because of the crappy fats we ate the cell can become compromised, and this can trigger poor health and disease.

I remember seeing a commercial back in England that spouted “Sugar the fat-free food!” I can only guess which industry-funded that commercial but with slogans like that it’s not surprising that people associated fat on their plate with fat on their body. The 1980s was the decade of fat-free obsession, but the ropy idea also survived the 1990s and is not uncommon today.

Ironically, dietary fat is not the most lipogenic nutrient.  Lipogenesis is the creation of new fat. If you want to point a finger, then point it at the high-fructose corn syrup which has infiltrated our food supply.  Fructose (a fruit sugar) is highly lipogenic, but our man-made high-fructose corn syrup blows natural fructose out of the water when it comes to the body’s ability to make body fat.

Fat is good, it can be used for energy, it’s needed for hormones, vitamins and every cell in our body. What’s more, it tastes good and, especially for the ladies out there, it doesn’t hold onto water weight the way that those bread, cereals, and grains do.

Fats can be saturated fats (solid at room temperature), monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.  Most fats are a combination, and their designation falls to the most dominant type of fat present. For example, coconut oil is over 90 percent saturated fat, butter 68 percent saturated fat, olive oil only 14 percent saturated fat.

For those of you who like to cook, it is always best to cook with a highly saturated fat (like coconut oil) Its level of saturation makes it more stable and less likely to go rancid with heat.  Again my grandmother had it right cooking in butter and lard.  Avoid cooking with vegetable oils; they are highly processed and high in omega 6, which is linked to inflammation and associated with asthma, depression, heart disease and even some cancers.  They can also alter the fat profile in our cells.  Avoid Soybean, corn, rapeseed, cottonseed, grapeseed, safflower and rice bran oil; curiously, all classed as vegetable oils and yet none of them come from a vegetable?

When choosing a fat to cook with, look for unprocessed, unrefined natural oils like coconut oil, butter, animal fats (lard and tallow), olive oil, palm oil and avocado oil (similar to olive oil).

 

THE FAT BREAKDOWN

“Triglycerides” are the form of fat stored in your body.  Body fat is made up of triglycerides.  To breakdown the word triglyceride, “tri” meaning “three”, identifies that there are three fatty acids. “Glycerides” denotes that the three individual fatty acids are connected to glycerol.  So a triglyceride is three fatty acids and a glycerol unit. Triglycerides are made by the body and come from the foods that we eat.

When we are talking about the differences in fat, we are talking about the differences in the three fatty acids that make up a triglyceride.

The fat in the foods we eat can be saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and they can be the chemically altered trans fats.

 

SATURATED FAT

Saturated fat has no carbon-carbon double bonds (see diagram). Because there are no bonds, this fat is referred to as saturated and includes dairy products, cheeses, and meats.

Saturated fats are easily identified as they are solid at room temperature. In the past, saturated fats were thought to increase the risk of coronary heart disease, but this has been strongly challenged more recently. We still have a hung jury on the fate of saturated fat with strong advocates on either side of the argument.  I think what we can say at this point is that saturated fat is not the extreme villain we once thought it to be.

Natural foods contain a combination of fats, and their designation is based on which is most dominant.

For example, coconut oil is classed as a saturated fat because it is 90% saturated fat.  Butter is 64% saturated and lard comes in at 40% saturated.

Foods that are classed as saturated fats are coconut oil, milk fat, pork fat (lard), butter, cream and chicken and beef fat.

 

When a fat does have one carbon-carbon double bond, it is, unsurprisingly, called a “monounsaturated fat” because “mono” means “one”.

Don’t let the memory of high school chemistry scare you.  All you have to understand is there is one double bond in monounsaturated fat, and that makes it different from saturated fat.

 

MONOUNSATURATED FAT

If there are still some doubters when it comes to how healthy saturated fat is, we can have a clear conscience when it comes to monounsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats are found in red meat, avocados, olive oil and nuts.  Monounsaturated fats are thought by everyone to be the “Healthy Fats”.

Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, olives, oils (hazelnuts, olives, safflowers, peanuts, etc.) and nuts and fish.

While “mono” means one, “poly” of course means more than one.

POLYUNSATURATED FATS

Polyunsaturated fats contain a number (greater than one) of carbon-carbon double bonds. The two most common polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6.  I am sure you’ve heard these names kicked around.  The ‘3’ simply refers to the position of the last carbon-carbon double bond in the fatty acids chain.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in seeds, nuts, certain meats and significantly in fish. Polyunsaturated fats, just like monounsaturated fats, get a unanimous thumbs-up and are definitely among the hallowed “Healthy Fats”.

When we talk about “healthy fats” we are referring to naturally occurring fats from both animal and plant sources.  Where it all goes wrong is when money gets involved, and we start talking big business, economies of scale, competition and supply and demand.

Fat tastes great and is included in a great many products, and yet those products can only sell if they can last the test of time, meaning survive long-haul transportation and endure an extended shelf life.  Fish meets, dairy and the innocent avocado don’t stand a chance against the fats used in fast foods, cakes, pastries and other tempting processed foods.

TRANSFATS

I would like to think by the time I finish this book that trans fats will be a nonissue.  I would like to think that the USA will follow the lead set by other countries in banning these fats.

Remember that saturated fats are stable and solid because they do not contain any double bonds. Now, hydrogenation is the process that removes double bonds from polyunsaturated fats and in so doing converts them into single bonds.  Predictably, this process converts liquids into solids and produces “hydrogenated” fats.

You do not have to understand the image above. Just note that it is quite dissimilar from the other natural fat profiles.

“Partially hydrogenated fats” is a statement you will often see on the labels of foods. This just means the hydrogenation process was not completed.  Trans fats are these partially hydrogenated fats; they do contain double bonds, but not in a way that is found in nature.

The word “trans” refers to a different configuration of the double bonds. This might be starting to sound a little confusing, but all you need to know is this: when you see “trans fat” or “partially hydrogenated” it means the fat has been artificially altered and is undeniably linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The jury is unanimous in its verdict here, and trans fats are guilty as all hell. They should be avoided at all times.  The sure-fire way to avoid these processed fats is simply to avoid processed foods.  Thankfully, processed foods do require a label so if you can’t avoid them altogether, then please read the label and watch out for the words “trans fats” and the deceiving term “partially hydrogenated fat/oil”.

 

If you feed a rabbit (a herbivore, a plant eater) cholesterol  (animal derived) rich foods and fat, and that rabbit gets heart disease should we base medical guidelines around the observation of a rabbit forced to eat non-rabbit foods?  NO, and yet that is what happened, and people were told not to eat fat or risk the fate of the rabbit.

It was said that polyunsaturated fats (made from crops) were good for the heart and people like my mom switched from real butter and lard to margarine, a highly processed product which emerged in the 1970s.

Some would point out that margarine popularity was partly due to the heavily funded Heart Association which held favor with the crop industry. Others would say studies were just inaccurately read and poor assumptions were made.  However, we got there, we moved away from raw, natural fats and into an era of heavily processed polyunsaturated and trans fats.

Dietary fat has been nutrition’s greatest victim and only now are we dusting it down and appreciating its true glory.

NUTS

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia
  • Pistachio
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts (legume)

Also the above as nut butter (be very careful to read the label as often full of sugar)

 

OILS

  • Coconut Oil (especially to cook with)
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnut oil
  • Avoid all vegetable oils

ALSO

  • Egg Yolks
  • Butter (not margarine) raw is best
  • Avocado
  • Cheese
  • Guacamole (read label)
  • Sour Cream
  • Full-fat milk and cream
  • Salad Dressings (read label)
  • Sesame and Flaxseed
  • Fish Oil as supplement (Omega 3 fatty acid) and cod liver or Krill oil

 

ANIMAL FATS

The fattier meats are considered to be those with more than 4.5 grams of saturated fat in a single serving/100 grams

Found in our non lean protein choices

  • Fatty cuts of beef including T bone and ribs
  • Fatty fish (salmon, anchovies, Sea Bass, Carp, Eel, Herring, sardines, white fish)
  • Chicken thigh (other poultry and poultry skin)

For those who would like to join the dots, let’s discuss how the fat on your plate ends up being used by your body. 

Fat is very different from the other two macronutrients, protein, and carbohydrates, in that nothing happens to fat until it reaches the small intestine.  Carbohydrates start getting broken down in the mouth when we chew and secrete salivary enzymes, and protein, although not broken down in the mouth, does start its disassembly when it reaches the stomach.

 

 

Fat passes unscathed from the mouth, down the esophagus, and through the stomach until it reaches the small intestine.  Its why fat keeps us feeling full; when that fat is in our stomach there is no digestion taking place, so we feel full/satiated. Foods that are described as “rich” or “heavy” are usually high-fat foods. Perhaps you’ve been in a fancy French restaurant where the meal came out, and it was tiny.  You think to yourself, how you’re going to have to eat again afterward because this so-called portion is so small. Then you eat… and feel full.  Yes, it’s the high-fat protein and sauces the French are famous for; rich and heavy with fat.  It’s also the reason that low-fat meals tend to leave you feeling hungry.

 

Frozen yogurt is a huge hit with the low-fat brigade.  I would go to this one place in West LA and there would be these ultra-thin ladies glugging their gallon-sized fat-free yogurts.  They would never dare eat a regular yogurt of the same size; they would be scared to death of the calories, but also a full-fat yogurt of that same size would have you feeling so full I doubt you could finish it.

Fat travels a long way before the body gets to work on breaking it down. Bile (made in the liver) mixes with fat in the small intestine.  Bile salts emulsify the fat into smaller droplets, and now pancreatic lipase (fat digesting enzyme) can do its job and further break fat down into free fatty acids and mono (one) glycerides. 

These free fatty acids and monoglycerides are packaged together into triglycerides (remember these?) while in the lining of the small intestine.

Whereas protein and carbohydrates enter the blood supply from the small intestine, fat does not.  The fat, now packaged together into its transportable form, is coated with protein and lipids, and can travel in water.  The fats are now known as lipoproteins and enter the lymphatic system before heading upward to a big vein in your neck where they at long last enter the blood supply.

The lymphatic system is a network of tubes mapping the entire body. It drains fluid from tissue, filters out bacteria, is home to infection-fighting white blood cells and it transports fatty acids before their entry to the general blood supply.

Bacteria, filtered out of the body during illness, is stored in the lymph nodes. You may have experienced the swelling of these lymph nodes at times when you have been sick.

Dietary fat takes longer to be broken down.

It has to be re-packaged before it can travel and it travels first in the lymph system before entering your blood system.

 

 

THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE

You can live a good life without knowing the journey of fat but here is an exception you might hear bandied about a lot, especially if live the low carb life.

Most of your dietary fats are “Long chain triglycerides” just think literally… a long chain of fat. There are also a few “medium chain triglycerides”… yes, a shorter chain of fat.

The Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) are digested like carbohydrates. They are absorbed into the small intestine and enter the blood stream directly (they do not travel via the lymphatic system) and then go to your liver where they can be used for fuel.  This is a major difference!

MCT’s became an iconic supplement when the low-carb diets first hit.  Because they enter the blood stream faster, you can get energy /fuel like you would from a carbohydrate.  For those choosing to eat very low carbohydrate, MCT’s are an excellent choice.

Although the supplement industry makes buckets of money from MCT products, you can find them right on your grocery store shelves in the form of coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and whole milk

If you want to give your low-carb diet a kick, load up on your MCTs.

Do you ALA? You should, your skin will love you for it

ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid)  a huge hitter in the Anti Oxidant world.  Do you take ALA? you should, you know you should.  It’s for those free radicals that damage cells – right?  Here we find ourselves in that uncomfortable grey area where most people exist when it comes to nutrition, supplements, and optimal health.  We kinda know what articles (and blog posts) are talking about, but not really.

So before we get onto how to look younger with ALA (notice how I hooked you in) let’s backtrack just a little to better understand this awesome supplement.

ALA is a nutrient that has powerful antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants help mitigate the damage done by free radicals.

To understand the way that free radicals and antioxidants interact, you must first understand a bit about cells and molecules. This will be brief and painless. The body is made up of different types of cells and cells are made up of different types of molecules.  Molecules consist of one or more atoms that are joined by chemical bonds.

You = Cells = Molecules = Atoms

Atoms have a nucleus, neutrons, protons and electrons.  Protons are positively charged and are in the atoms nucleus.  Electrons are negatively charged particles and sit in the surrounding shell of the atom. Electrons are involved in chemical reactions and are what bond atoms together to form Molecules.

An atom likes to have it outer shell full of electons.  An Atom with a full outer shell tends not to get involved in chemical reactions but when there is space an atom will try to fill it. Atoms often complete their outer shells by sharing electrons with other atoms.  If they share an electron the atoms are bound together and the molecule feel stable.

Electrons are in the outer shell of an atom, if that outer shell is not full an atom may join/bond with another atom.

How Free Radicals are Formed

If a bond breaks a free radical is formed.  Unstable, they try to grab onto an electron for stability.  In a panic, a free radical will attack a stable molecule and steal one of its electrons.  Now that poor molecule is unstable and becomes a free radical itself.  Remeber the molecules are within the cell and when molecules start to turn into free radicals it will eventually damage the cell.

Some free radicals arise normally during metabolism. Sometimes our immune system creates them to kill off viruses and bad bacteria.  Free radicals are expected and the body has antioxidants to deal with them.

Then we have smoke, stress, pollution, radiation etc that spew out free radicals causing havoc, if we don’t have the antioxidants we need excessive damage occurs and that damage builds up as we age.

That’s why we need antioxidants

HOW DO THEY WORK?

Antioxidants are our stable, generous friend.  Anti oxidants donate one of their own electrons to the free radical but in doing so they dont turn into a free radical themselves because they are so cool that they are stable either way.  Anti oxidants can then stop the cascade of damage that free radicals can start.

 

Vitamin E  –  The most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. One of the most efficient chain-breaking antioxidants available.

Vitamin C – The most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body. Acts primarily in cellular fluid. Of particular note in combating free-radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke.

Except for when it’s in a modified ester form, vitamin C is water soluble. That means it dissolves in water and is not stored in your body’s fat and for that reason, you need to take it daily.

Fat soluble vitamins – such as A, E, D, and K – are the opposite, they’re soluble in fats and for our body to readily absorb them, we need to consume them in conjunction with fats. If you swallow your multi-vitamin with a glass of water and don’t eat a meal along with it, chances are very little of these nutrients are being absorbed (however the vitamin C is, since it’s water soluble).

What makes ALA special is that since it is both water and fat soluble, you are able to absorb it at any time, regardless of what you’re eating or drinking with it.

WHAT ABOUT SKIN!

ALA is able to protect the skin from photoaging.  A small study of ladies in their 50’s had the women put 5% ALA serum on half of their faces for 12 weeks.  The treated side showed significant improvement (decreases roughness)

ALA also helps with the synthesis of new collagen.  “ALA facilitated the expression of a collagen producing enzyme, prolyl-4-hydroxylase” ALA also helped reduce hair follicle degradation!

Topical ALA dramatically reduced serum IgE a big hitter when it comes to skin sensitivity issues such as atopic dermatitis, sinustis, and some food allergies.

So where do we get hold of ALA?  The richest sources of ALA can be found in organ meats (heart, kidney, liver) Maybe you’re ok with that but the very thought of that makes me want to vomit.  Thankfully you can purchase ALA as a supplement.  I wish I could plug a Shrink Shop product here but although we have a great Anti Oxidant we don’t (yet) have an ALA  product.

Until we do make sure to eat your veggies, take a good vitamin C and E (at the right times) and if you can stomach it chow down on some organ meat.

Until next time

Joanne x

 

 

 

Probiotic Benefits my experience

PROBIOTIC BENEFITS

In recent years Probiotics have become the “must take” supplement.  Most people now know they should take them, they are not sure why and ultimately they don’t.

Yes, The Shrink Shop sell Probiotics on Amazon, but for a moment forget that because I really want to share with you my recent experience following emergency abdominal surgery. Taking supplements is pretty much a matter of faith.  You know you should take a supplement, you buy it, hope you bought the right one and hope that it’s working. In this day and age where we expect instant gratification and assurance supplements can be a hard sell because (with the rare exception) you really don’t know if they are working or not, or if you just threw your money away.

Here is a post about the over-prescription of antibiotics, the need for probiotics and why I am so excited about the “large black mass found in my belly!

  1. 1 in 5 pediatric acute care visits results in an antibiotic prescription
  2. 40% of women receive antibiotics during labor
  3. The average American child gets 10-20 courses of antibiotics by the age of 18.

Antibiotic usage is linked to

  1. IBS
  2. Chrons
  3. Obesity
  4. Candida
  5. Depression
  6. Chronic Fatigue
  7. Celiac
  8. Autoimmune diseases
  9. Metabolic dysfunction

Antibiotics save lives (probably mine) they fight bacterial infections and were discovered by accident in 1928 when Alexander Fleming noticed that mold killed Staphylococcus bacteria. This started a flurry of research and 20 classes of antibiotics were identified,  Within the last few decades antibiotics have become less effective and now we’re dealing with infections that are resistant to antibiotics.  Antibiotics are widely prescribed for “Self-limiting’ conditions. Conditions that if left alone would have fixed themselves and did not warrant the use of an antibiotic.  Patients enter a doctors office and expect to walk out with a “Fix”  and there is  pressure on physicians to prescribe that “fix” Most patients would not be happy if they left an appointment being told to “rest up, you’ll be ok”  There is also the attitude of “better safe than sorry” so people take an antibiotic because better to take something than nothing  – not true.

Overuse of antibiotics is destroying our gut and this is where it all gets a little cloudy.  We think of our gut as our digestion, if we get gas, sour stomach, food poisoning or bathroom issues, we think “gut.” This relationship makes sense.  Then we are told that the bacteria in our gut is super important.  So gut bacteria is good but we don’t we use antibiotics to kill bacteria?   yes, it all starts to get a little messy so lets clean things up.

Firstly, our gut is not just our stomach.  It’s everything from where food goes in, to where food goes out and it is full of both good and bad bacteria.  Bacteria might only live 20 minutes so you can really bugger up a pretty healthy gut in a short space of time.  The majority of gut bacteria live in the colon and they feed off the undigested carbohydrates and fiber in our diets  (ever wondered why we rave about fiber, it is because our food bacteria feed on it in our colon)

This colony of bacteria (aka buzz word ‘Microbiome’) is now known to have a huge impact on our immune system (keyword here is HUGE)  our appetite and feelings of hunger, our mood, energy and gene expression.  Its a challenge to see how bacteria in your colon can affect your day, your workout, your energy, your health – but it absolutely does!

HYGIENE IS OVERRATED

Do you Purell your shopping cart?  Do you sanitize everything (including your kid)?  By limiting the bacteria we are exposed to we are limiting the richness and variety of our gut bacteria.  I was an independent trainer in Golds Gym Venice for 24 years.  The most famous gym in the world and probably the dirtiest.  I say this with fondness as it almost added to the charm of the place, the fact that it could actually get away with dirty machines and bathrooms you wouldn’t believe.  I didn’t get sick.  No joke, I rarely got sick and if I did it would be a 24-hour thing and I would be fighting fit in no time.  In all seriousness, I  credit my superior health to my exposure to probably every bit of filth known to mankind.  I could probably have licked Venice Beach Boardwalk (directly opposite the gym)  with no ill affects.

In young children, the gut microbiome is still developing and a study in 2016 showed us that just one course of antibiotics caused significant changes that were not resolved even 2 years later. Consider then the average American child taking 10-20 courses of antibiotics before their 18th birthday.

WHAT TO DO

Probiotics are the good bacteria we rave about but don’t wait until you are prescribed a course of antibiotics to take them.  70 percent of our immune system is in our gut so by taking probiotics daily we can keep the balance of bacteria in favor of the good stuff.  If we can promote gut health we can strengthen our immune system, which may be all we need to fight off infections in the first place.

Now we have the good bacteria it is also a good idea to feed them and that’s where your fiber intake can help.  Prebiotics are water-soluble fiber and resistant starch that can be found in carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets, taro, winter squash, and plantains. Now its fabulous if you eat all of those things but you can also buy INULIN.  I use Insulin powder, add it to my water, it has no taste, couldn’t be easier.

MY EXPERIENCE

January 2017 and me and Kevin are on vacation in Costa Rica.  Not feeling too well and with a lot of back pain, I thought I had sunstroke and had overdone the paddle board experience.  Second, to last night it turns into a fever, ridiculous pain, full body convulsions and then chills.  All the symptoms of a kidney infection.  That made for a fun (not) flight home and some major antibiotics which thankfully worked with great speed.  From the very first tablet, my digestion system shut down.  The weirdest feeling as I could actually feel my stomach had shut down.  If I ate I could feel the food just land in an empty drum and then within an hour the bloating would start.  The ill effects of the antibiotics were actually worse than the kidney infection and took a good month to correct.  I was taking everything I could think of HCL, licorice root, apple cider vinegar – to try to kick-start some stomach acid.  Probiotics, anything fermented, and gobs of prebiotics.  That was my whole January.

Then I got a UTI, more antibiotics and then the sinus infection that lasted about 6 months  – 2 more courses of antibiotics.  Then the cough that wouldn’t go away – more antibiotics.  This whole year I have had some underlying infection I have been dealing with  – ME, the person that could lick the pavement on Venice Beach.

October 17, a Saturday.  I have been having a little pressure in my abdomen and thought “oh yay” more antibiotics but before I had a chance to address it I was rushed to emergency.  Long story short, they found a “large black mass” in my abdomen (never google “large black mass”) and it turned out to be a cyst, the size of an egg, attached to my bladder which had ruptured.  They removed a bunch of things and cleaned everything else up.  In the hospital, I thought back to the kidney infection and it turns out that this cyst was the cause of that infection and everything else I had been dealing with this year.  That ccyst had been sitting on my bladder happily infecting my kidneys, my bladder and causing all the other annoying issues I had been having.

Now I’m on some serious amount of antibiotics and pain meds so I ask my husband to bring my stash of probiotics to the hospital.  I take our probiotics daily but now I am pounding them 4x a day.  In the hospital I was on IV antibiotics but upon returning home I was taking orally.  Sure enough from the first tablet my digestion shuts down, the exact same way it did in January of this year.   Dismayed I am preparing for a month or so of miserable gut health but within a week It was a non-issue !  My digestion was normal with none of the distension and pain I had been waiting for.

Probiotsc Benefits
Your daily probiotic

Not often do get an opportunity to really know that a supplement i working and the one good thing that came out of this whole thing is my absolute confidence that our very own Shrink Shop Probiotics brought my gut back to optimal health.  I knew the product was great as I had researched it for months before we actually launched it but to actually experience it doing its thing was the one highlight of emergency abdominal surgery

In january I also took a lot of probiotics but it still took a good month to geyt back on my feet.  I think it is a real testimant to our product that after so many courses of meds over the last 10 months our very own product saved the day,

So please excuse this plug for our product, but given what I’ve just been through I did want to share this whole experience with you

I hope I have explained why probiotics should be part of your everyday routine and maybe alerted you to the cautionary tale of antibiotics and their negative impact on our health.

Find our Probiotic HERE ON AMAZON

Until next time   Joanne xx