T Nation

Balancing Fats: Mono, Poly, & Saturated

I’ve been having a hard time balancing out my dietary fats. I’m trying to make a new meal plan without hurting my wallet too much. (I’m following JB’s 10 habits, btw.)

Anyway, I just wanna know, how many of you really strive to balance these out? Are they THAT important? Would really love to hear from your experiences.

Feel free to go 25% SFA, 50% mono, 25% poly. Makes life easier, and some think that it’s better.

I don’t think there’s any evidence that ratios are important. Rather it is amounts.

Get good amounts of EHA and DHA. For example 2 grams of DHA and 800 mg of EPA. Getting more than this is OK also.

If you are older, GLA is good also, about 250 mg. The relatively young probably have no use for it, as the need comes as levels of the enzyme required to produce it drop with age. I can’t define any specific age as a cut-off: consider it a grey-scale sort of thing. But for example if you are in your 20’s I doubt that supplementing with this will do anything, in most cases anyway.

Get a good amount of oleic acid, for example from olive oil. A couple of ounces a day is good. An ounce per day would be better than nothing.

It’s also nice to get some coconut oil – not hydrogenated coconut oil, but the natural thing, for example extra virgin coconut oil. Again, an ounce or two per day is good. However, it’s not as if you can’t do well without it. Using it may speed metabolism a little and improve the skin, if there’s room for improvement.

While not necessary if doing the above, nuts are also a fine source of oils.

If the rest of your diet is in order, total calories are appropriate, etc, saturated fats are not a problem.

Trans fats are to be avoided.

If we did not live in the society and environment we do then it might be desirable to also look out to get linoleic acid (an omega-6) as it is an essential fatty acid and in low concentration in most foods. However we live in a society and environment where oils man would not naturally consume much of – for example, corn, soy, and safflower – are ubiquitous.

The chances are your body is already vastly overloaded with linoleic acid, and cannot lose it slowly. So you don’t need to look to get it: rather look to minimize consumption of the above oils and of foods prepared with them. (However, high-oleic corn and high-oleic safflower are perfectly acceptable and healthy.)

Avoid trans fats.

Nice post Bill. I’ve read before that one doesn’t want SFAs too low (hormonal reasons, etc), and one doesn’t necessarily want PUFAs too high due to them being readily oxidized and so on, hence the 25-50-25 ratio that has been suggested. Any comments on that? Also, what are your thoughts on vitamin e supplementation when taking fishoils (and why?)

I have never seen a well-supported reason why it would be a ratio matter at all.

What, because you got only half your olive oil today, that means you should take half the EFA’s you usually would?

Or twice the saturated fat, therefore you need to double up everything else?

Say you decided to double up on EFA’s because you personally found a benefit from doing so. Does that mean that all your other fats need to do double as well?

If ratios were the way, then the answer to all these would be yes. But the actual answers are no.

Another type of error commonly made by authors in this area is lumping things into categories according to how many double bonds they have (poly, mono, unsaturated.)

This again can readily come to wrong conclusions. What, more linoleic acid that let’s say an individual could better do without should just be lumped in with EPA and DHA and everything is good because the amount of “polyunsaturated” is correct? Of course not. The fats should be considered individually rather than lumped into these categories, or any categories.

As for Vitamin E and fish oil supplementation, while it’s true that fish oils are readily oxidized, that is a problem in delivering the compounds from the natural source to, finally, the body, rather than a person needing extra antioxidants due to consuming fish oil, so far as I know.

Sorry for the late reply guys. It’s been a hectic week at work. Unlike other 19-year-old guys out there, I don’t really have the luxury of time to research everything for myself. I’m working for my dad even during school breaks (9am-7pm). So… any free time I have left, I spend on either preparing food, hitting the gym, or plain old being human.

Anyway, Dan, Bill, thanks for the insights. That was definitely a gasp of air for me. I’ve been worrying too much about ratios, small details, and a whole lot of other things so much so that the mere “worrying” eventually became the one that was hampering my progress. I’ve actually stopped following my old meal plan in fear of being deficient or overly excessive in one nutrient or the other. Well, what I ended up doing was trying to read more so I could design a better program. When I started reading more, that led me to bumping into more complexities, and hence, more hanging questions, so I had to …well, read even more.

So… I guess I’ll just keep things simple by making sure I get my regular fish oil caps and healthy fats, (nuts - almonds, cashews; olive oil, and extra virgin coco [as Bill suggested]) everyday.

Thanks again guys. I really love the fact that you could get golden info here for free just by asking. It’s only been my 2nd post, but I’ll definitely be dropping by more often after this.

[quote]Kaiser wrote:

Anyway, I just wanna know, how many of you really strive to balance these out? Are they THAT important? Would really love to hear from your experiences.[/quote]

I read about this and quickly dismissed it as way too much effort. The take home message is to increase mono and poly.