Today is Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Strong and... fat?

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I just finished my new article for Mature Lifestyles about carbohydrates and thought it would be wise to provide a companion piece here on protein and fat. Why? Because there is so much information to be found on why we should avoid one or the other, but not much regarding the basics of what each macronutrient provides or how they affect us.

The ML article, titled "Sweet advice," discusses why it's important to lower our carbs, especially as we age, but it only briefly touches on the importance of getting adequate protein and fat.

The vast majority of people I do nutritional coaching with are getting too many carbs and too little protein and fat. I'm hoping that by combining both articles, as well as adding an additional blog post, I can help clear up some confusion and offer solutions.

Most people are aware that we need protein. After all, it makes us big and strong, right? In part, this is true. But protein plays a much bigger role in maintaining a healthy body.

Each of us has a plasma amino acid pool. Sounds like something out of "American Horror Story," but it's more like a kitchen sink with an open drain that we must continuously replenish. This is because in addition to healthy muscles, dietary protein plays a critical role in a strong immune system and nearly every metabolic activity, like the creation of our cells and their functional components.

Many people I work with have been traumatized against dietary fat. They equate eating fats with being fat. I blame the misguided efforts of our food industry and the low-fat craze of the 1980s. We were told that dietary fat should be kept low if we wanted to be healthy. Unfortunately, this just isn't the case.

Fats in the diet play several key roles:

  1. They provide an excellent energy source.
  2. They help manufacture and balance hormones.
  3. They form part of our cell membranes (anyone else having biology class flashback?)
  4. They form the building blocks of our brains and nervous system.
  5. They also help transport the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Now that we've covered the quiz material for the day - make sure to study, pop quiz on Wednesday - let's get into more useful information. I sometimes take for granted what foods are good sources of protein and fat. Just earlier today I had a session with a recurring client who looked bewildered as she said, "I have no idea what foods are what."

Quick primer

Foods high in protein would be: meats including fish, beef, chicken, turkey, venison and pork, dairy products like eggs, cottage cheese and greek yogurt, some beans and lentils, and supplements like whey (dairy) or vegetarian protein powders.

Foods that provide good sources of fats include: avocados, most nuts and seeds like macadamias, almonds, walnuts and pecans, oils like coconut, palm and olive, and animal fats coming from meat or dairy like cheese or full-fat greek yogurt.

Keeping a truly balanced, healthy diet is possible by eating a variety of vegetables along with high quality proteins and an assortment of dietary fats. If you're interested in reading more, in addition to the Mature Lifestyles article you can also visit and click the blog "Keto concerns." In it, I share some of my secrets, cover concerns, dispel myths and explain the science behind it all.

Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at

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