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Trans Fats

Bodybuilders are consistently eating clean and are always training their asses off, but somewhere in there our bodies crave something more than just tuna and chicken breast. Not only is this craving natural, but it has also been proven by scientific studies; that for those of us on calculated diets a well-earned cheat day is actually not such a bad thing. Though before you head out to the nearest fast-food restaurant and order the entire menu, realize that there’s a silent anarchist out there that loves to dwell right in your midsection and doesn’t seem to mind attacking your insides as well. This visibly unseen sludge is called trans fat and in recent research, it turns out that trans fat doesn’t really spread out over the entire span of the physique, instead it gathers and settles into one spot; your waistline.

Now even when your total dietary calories are controlled, still trans fat readily targets your abdomen, greatly counteracting your put in hard work. And on top of that; trans fat has the ability to warp bodily insulin control and has been found to even decrease testosterone levels in some cases, both of which are two of the major hormones bodybuilders desperately depend upon for growth and development. And keep in mind that if you have a more sedentary lifestyle, you are affected much more greatly, as you have almost no retaliation against trans fats after they set in.

So, how exactly did trans fats come to be?

Well believe it or not, at one point trans fat was only ingested from natural sources, occurring from within the milk and bodyfat of ruminants; such as cattle and sheep at a low percentage of total fat. But this has all changed; due to the process of partial-hydrogenation, which is basically the addition of hydrogen to liquid oil at very high temperatures, typically vegetable oils, which changes the oil into a semi-solid fat. Notably found in foods such as vegetable shortening, candies, fast-food, baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, among many processed foods.

Why put trans fat into foods…?

…Because partial-hydrogenation increases product shelf-life and decreases refrigeration requirements, of course. In short; large companies saving money at the expense of your health. Nice, considering trans fatty acids are not essential and provide no known benefit to human health, whether of plant or animal origin. And the further consumption of excess trans fats; promotes an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, by raising levels of bad LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of good HDL cholesterol. With all that, take into consideration that if a food item contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat; it can ultimately be expressed as zero.

In the end though, it’s for the most part, up to us individually on how high our trans fat consumption is. The official judgement stands; that it’s not recommended to entirely eliminate trans fats altogether, as trans fat is naturally present in many animal foods in trace quantities. Therefore its removal from ordinary diets might introduce undesirable side effects and nutritional imbalances, if proper nutritional planning is not undertaken. So it’s our part to be attentive label readers and know which of the restaurants serve foods very low or free of trans fats. And as for us bodybuilders, when it comes right down to it, it’s best for us to keep our cheat days, we just have to make sure we’re deciding on the wiser cheat-food choices.

Oh, and by the way; I hear that the healthy switch has been made by none other than Wendy’s. Mmmm!

References:

Food and nutrition board, institute of medicine of the national academies (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). National Academies Press. pp. 447., pp. 424

Mozaffarian D, Katan MB, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC (13 April 2006). Trans Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease. New England Journal of Medicine 354 (15): 1601-1613.