March 14, 2016AllPro Sports Training

Nutrition’s Elite 8: #3 – Swap Fat for Fat

Welcome everyone to the third installment of my Elite 8 Nutrition tips. Today we’ll be talking about changing up how you view fat. When people typically want to diet they will a) go on a highly caloric restricted diet and b) either cut out fat or carbs. The latter portion of this approach brands one or the other as public enemy #1 instead of using those macros for you.

In my snacking tip, I highlighted on how to start using carbs in your benefit by including fiber and timing high versus low glycemic index carbs based on when you need them. This mini-blog focusses on how you can use fat in your diet to help you, rather than cut it out completely.

I want to take right now to reiterate that I do not have a dietary certification nor am I a registered dietician. That’s kind of important in some states. I am a certified strength and conditioning specialist which had its nutritional focus; the rest of my knowledge comes from personal experience and research.

Speaking of which, research has taught us a lot about the good fats and their health benefits. Before we continue: I am going to call monounsaturated fats MONO and polyunsaturated fats POLY for the duration of this article. It’s just easier.

So, here’s an example: one group of folks ate a high MONO fat breakfast and another ate a high saturated fat breakfast. Five hours later they were analyzed and the MONO group had higher rates of fat oxidation and lower rates of carbohydrate oxidation! So, seeking out some MONO fats in your snacks can help you burn fat.

I like to use the analogy of a car when talking about substrate utilization (the body’s fuel burning). When you put unleaded gas in a car, it burns unleaded gas. When you put diesel in a truck, it burns diesel. If you put premium in a sports car, guess what it’s going to burn. So if we provide the body with a high fat diet, the body preferentially burns fat during our exercise!

This was proven by Helge et al. over 15 years ago! They put men on either a high fat or high carbohydrate diet for 6 weeks and found that the high fat diet guys burnt more fat! Who would have thought! I’m not saying you need to go eat all the fats you can because a poorly planned high fat diet can be disastrous. Yet, this illustrates the point that trying cut out fat in order to burn fat just doesn’t work. Swap your bad fat for good fat.

By the way, the high fat diet is pretty popular over in Europe and Helge, up there, he works in Copenhagen and is a brilliant researcher. Know what else he has proved? In overweight men, those with a higher resting fat oxidation rate have a higher peak fat oxidation rate during training!

You have to include POLY fats in your diet as well. We’re all aware of their health benefits but here they are, just so you remember. POLY fats help reduce the bad cholesterol in your diet, they help form the conductive sheaths around your nerves, create the cell walls in your body and provide Omega 3- and 6- fatty acids to the body. Overall, a healthy amount of POLY fats help you function and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Ok Alex. You were a bit all over the place. Boil it down for me, I’m an athlete trying to shed some excess fat. How can I use this information?”

So, you have a higher resting fat oxidation rate after eating fat, and higher resting rates mean higher peak exercise rates. So, if we structure our diets to include healthy fats pre-exercise, we can then increase our body’s selection process during said exercise. All of the POLY fats help you lead a healthier life overall and healthier athletes are better athletes.

This tip can be used by most folks, no matter your athletic situation. The important thing is that saturated fats and trans fats have their place but if you can increase your “good fat” levels, you can eventually trim down. If you want a great saturated fats, scoot on over to my coffee blog and learn up on coconut oil and healthy butters.

Thanks,  Alex

Questions? Email Alex at

The Tips

  1. Eat Less, More Often.
  2. Snacking Stay Power.
  3. Swap Fat for Fat.
  4. Water, Drink It.
  5. Activate Once Every Hour.
  6. Meal Prep, A Plan for Every Day.
  7. Sleep, an Underrated Rockstar.
  8. Indulge.



  1. Helge JW, Watt PW, Richter EA, Rennie MJ, Kiens B. Fat utilization during exercise: adaptation to a fat-rich diet increases utilization of plasma fatty acids and very low density lipoprotein-triacylglycerol in humans. J Physiol. 2001;537(Pt 3):1009-1020.
  2. Piers LS, Walker KZ, Stoney RM, Soares MJ, O’Dea K. The influence of the type of dietary fat on postprandial fat oxidation rates: monounsaturated (olive oil) vs saturated fat (cream). Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002;26(6):814-821.
  3. Rosenkilde M, Nordby P, Nielsen LB, Stallknecht BM, Helge JW. Fat oxidation at rest predicts peak fat oxidation during exercise and metabolic phenotype in overweight men. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010;34(5):871-877.