As a sport nutritionist I’ve had the opportunity to work with thousands of athletes and tennis players. And regardless of skill level and age the one request from every athlete is to find ways to become quicker and faster.
Speed can be the difference maker on the court. Reaching that drop shot, running down that overhead lob and accelerating into position to hit that winner.
Many times when we think of speed we look at footwork training, sprints, cardio tennis, etc… but the real difference maker in your speed it activating your body to burn body fat.
The leaner you are the faster you are.
I wrote this article about eating fat to burn fat to help you build off the info you already learned in our 5 part series of Eating Like a Tennis Champion.
Get ready, it’s time to learn exactly why Eating Fat will get you faster on the court!!
It’s hard to believe but you must eat fat to burn fat. Yes, a spoonful of peanut butter, a ripe avocado, a handful of coconut chips, fresh olives, zesty Italian dressing and sliced almonds are all examples of healthy fats and types of foods that will help maximize your results and court speed.
Ever since the crazy “fat free” days of the 1990’s a crucial physiological fact has been forgotten, eating fat is essential for your body to work correctly.
So it’s time to end all this “fat free” nonsense and get back understanding why eating fat is Great for your body.
Let’s start with the two main types of fat, the one considered “bad” and the one considered “good.”
Saturated fat is your “bad fat.” Unsaturated fat is your “good fat.”
Saturated fat is considered “bad” because it raises the level of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in your blood and can increase your risk of heart disease.
But this primarily applies to saturated fat that comes from animal based protein, or byproducts of animal protein, like beef, bacon, butter, and cheese. Plant based saturated fat, like coconut oil does not have the same negative effects on your “bad” cholesterol, and coconut oil has been shown to have great additional health benefits.
The reality is this: animal based saturated fat is fine to have as long as it is consumed in moderation.
Your goal is consuming less than 15 grams of animal saturated fat per day. But when it comes to plant based saturated fat, you can eat more than 15 grams per day.
Your second type of fat is unsaturated fat, the “good” kind. This type of fat can be split into two types: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
Avocados and olive oil are examples of monounsaturated-fat and nuts and seeds are examples of polyunsaturated fat.
Unsaturated fats do not raise your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and may actually help in reducing it.
Since these are your “good” fats, I recommended that you use unsaturated fats as your primary fat source in each meal.
Here’s a great visual of the different types of fat:
Now since you have a better understanding of the two types of fat, let’s dive into the 4 Reasons You Need to Eat Fat:
Reason 1: Eating fat slows down digestion
Fat inhibits the release of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, or HCl), which in turn slows down your digestive process. By eating fat with each meal, the digestion of your carbohydrates and protein as well as your fat is slowed, stabilizing your blood sugar more easily.
Reason 2: Eating fat causes you to release stored body fat
When your body recognizes that an essential nutrient’s consumption is being restricted, it will do everything to protect that nutrient. This means that your body will stop releasing stored fat if it senses that none is coming in. This mechanism operates similarly to the way your body behaves when it senses imminent starvation.
Since fat has over twice the energy of protein and carbohydrates, your body will always hold onto its fat in times of restriction or deprivation.
The simple solution is to continuously feed yourself the correct amount of fat per meal. Your body will then continuously release your unwanted stored fat.
Reason 3: Consuming fat is needed to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Fat-soluble vitamins are essential for your body to function optimally. Without fat, these vitamins cannot be absorbed by your body. Non-absorption of these vitamins will create vitamin deficiencies and cause health challenges.
Reason 4: Consuming fats can provide essential fatty acids.
Ninety-five percent of my clients were deficient in omega–3 fatty acids when I began working with them. Within two weeks of adding these essential fats to their diet, clients report noticeable improvements in their hair, skin, and nails. Studies show that omega–3s can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve brain function, and reduce joint pain and inflammation.
Since omega–3 is an essential fatty acid (your body cannot make it), it’s crucial that you get it through food or supplementation. Your body also needs Omega-6 and Omega-9, but you naturally get those through your daily fat intake and when you eat foods like avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Here are two simple options to ensure you are getting enough Omega-3:
- Eat a fatty fish at least three times a week, preferably salmon.
- Take 3000 – 5000 mg of fish or flax oil, or chia, hemp seed. Even though fish is great for your body, my taste buds don’t love fish so I take 5000 mg of pharmaceutical grade fish oil. My wife Abbi, gets her omega-3 through chia seeds. Even our 12-year-old son Hunter takes 2000 mg of fish oil per day (he doesn’t like eating fish either, he has my fish taste buds!).
However, you want to get your omega-3 go for it, just make sure you get it each day.
Ok! You have the Complete 411 on WHY you need to eat fat, and remember, less body fat means more speed!
Let’s wrap this article up with a recommended list of fats, portion sizes and how to balance your plate with fat each meal:
These are the reasons why the fat that you eat is your “fat-burning fuel.”
So next time someone says “be careful that food has fat in it”, you can reply “great, I need to eat fat to burn fat” and it’s making me a faster and stronger tennis player!
Most important, Mark Macdonald is a husband to his wife Abbi and father to their 12-year-old son Hunter and 2-year-old baby girl, Hope.
Professionally, he’s a world renowned nutrition & fitness expert, best-selling author, television personality, international teacher and speaker, and entrepreneur who has coached everyone from celebrities to athletes to business executives to busy moms on how to permanently get their body back with cutting edge nutrition, fitness and lifestyle strategies.
He is the founder of Venice Nutrition and the IBNFC: International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaching, author of the New York Times Bestselling books Body Confidence and Why Kids Make You Fat and How to Get Your Body Back, as well as a featured health expert for many national media outlets, a few being: Dr. OZ, CNN, HLN, Access Hollywood, NBC, FOX and Chelsea Lately.
Mark is also a sought after keynote health speaker and continually speaks throughout the world.
- For Adults - Our 8 Week Plan - it's a powerful plan that has helped a couple million people rock their health, it's a global plan and featured in my why kids make you fat and how to get your body back book. Here is the website - www.8WeekRun.com
- For kids, we have a powerful Kid Athlete program that supports the info in the 5 Part series and connects perfectly with the 8 Week Plan so tennis families can rock it together - all the info about that is on www.HowToFeedYourKidAthlete.com