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Why fats are important?

Minimum fat intake

There is a lot of talk about how much protein and how many carbs you need to eat, but what is the minimum fat you should eat?

When it comes to nutrition, protein and carbohydrates are the most important. But have you ever wondered what is the minimum fat you should eat? Specifically, the smallest amount of fat that you need to include in your diet in order not to have negative effects on health.

Why fats are important?

Having a minimum fat intake is extremely important for health. Just to mention a few things, adequate fat intake is essential for:

Integrity of cell membranes.
Health of hair, skin and nails.
Hormone production.
Regulation of inflammatory pathways.
Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
There are several types of fats, each with certain properties, and the body requires a minimum amount of all to support biological processes.

Some numbers

A general suggestion that can be used regarding the minimum amount of fat is based on a person's lean mass. Lean mass is made up of everything in the body other than fats, as are organs (such as the brain) that require fatty acids to function properly.

Lean mass = weight in kg x (2.1 - estimated percentage of fat written in decimals)

Example: someone 90 kg with 10% body fat.

90 x (2.1 - 0.1) = 180

How many grams of fat:

Men = 0.66 g / kg of lean mass
Women = 0.88 g / kg of lean mass
Women tend to have a slightly higher need for fatty acids due to their hormonal profile and menstrual cycle.

Using the example above, a 90 kg man with 10% body fat would need 0.3 x 180 = 54 g

It is an example for someone with low caloric intake or close to maintenance. In a phase of hypertrophy, when you eat more, you do not need such large amounts. In some extreme cases (preparation for a photo shoot or towards the end of a competition preparation cycle) levels may fall below these values. 1-2 weeks with extremely low fat intake will probably have no side effects on health.

And keep in mind that this is a weekly average. For example, you can eat less fat on the days you train, a little below the minimum, and on non-training days to eat more fat, and at the end of the week, when you draw the line, the average should be above the minimum.

Beyond calculations

Unfortunately, there is not much research on the minimum fat intake (there is a lot about high fat intake). The published information, although limited, recommends no less than 10-15% of the total calorie intake to be fat. But as with any nutrient, the minimum recommendations are far below what would be optimal for health, especially for those who do sports.

What must be kept in mind is that there is no exact amount at which negative effects on health begin to appear. Each person must be evaluated individually, and tested over time to see exactly what needs. The calculations I showed above are just a starting point, not a cornerstone.

Seeing a fat deficiency can be difficult, as the signs are not as clear as with the other two macronutrients (protein and carbohydrates). The first thing you notice is a decrease in the health of your hair, skin and nails. But, if you are above the minimum recommended above and use quality sources, you should have no problems.