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    Everything You Need To Know About Healthy Fats, According to Dietitians

    Everything You Need To Know About Healthy Fats, According to Dietitians

    This blog post originally appeared on Vital Proteins®' Lively blog

    As an athlete, you know your diet is key to performing your best. But do you ever find yourself fatiguing early during training? Or maybe you're constantly eating but never seem to feel full. It might be time to look at the source of fuel in your diet. Maybe your plate is missing some key healthy fats.

    Here, three registered dietitians break down exactly what healthy fats are, why you should be eating them and how to incorporate them into your diet.


    "Including good-for-you sources of fat is key for everything from satiety and mouthfeel to reducing cardiovascular disease risk, supporting cognition, and maintaining proper hormone levels, to name a few. The list truly goes on and on," Anthea Levi, RD, registered dietitian at the private practice Culina Health, tells Lively.

    It is important to incorporate healthy fats into your diet for several reasons. Firstly, fat is a necessary macronutrient group that provides energy for the body. It also helps to insulate organs and tissues, form signaling molecules throughout the body, and is important for brain health and cognition. Fats help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, which are essential for optimal health, Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN of Bucket List Tummy tells Lively. Deficiencies in these vitamins can impact bone health and structure, mood and cognition, inflammatory processes and more.

    Fat is one of the three macronutrients (carbs, protein and fats) and plays many roles in the body. "It provides energy, is part of the formation of certain hormones, and is necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat also helps strengthen cell membranes, which can benefit hydration," Amy Davis, RD, LDN tells Lively.


    "When it comes to athletes, consuming adequate amounts of healthy fats is essential for maintaining intramuscular fat stores, which can be used as a source of energy during exercise," Levi says.

    Fueling with healthy fats is also critical for powering your workouts. Without enough fat in your diet, the body will deplete glycogen (aka glucose stored in the muscles) quicker. This glycogen depletion can diminish performance and bring on fatigue, meaning you won’t be able to push yourself to your full potential.

    Plus, omega-3 fatty acids, a component of unsaturated fats, help reduce inflammation in the body, which can be particularly important for athletes recovering from workouts, Schlicter says.


    Unsaturated fatty acids are good fats to eat. They are divided into omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, Schlicter explains.

    It's important to note that the typical American diet has a disproportionate amount of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, so general recommendations are to increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in our diets, Schlicter says. "The main types of omega-3 fatty acids to include are EPA and DHA. These are essential to get through the diet because our bodies cannot make them," says Schlicter.

    These can be found in foods like fatty fish, cod liver oil, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and avocados. EPA and DHA are only in seafood, Levi says. And, there are other types of omega-3s in walnuts and chia seeds.

    Other healthy fats are found in nuts, nut butters (yes, you can find healthy fats in peanut butter), seeds, tahini, avocado, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, olives, and olive and avocado oils.

    "Organic and grass-fed dairy products (like Greek yogurt) can also be a great source of protein and fat for those who tolerate it well, plus you'll get the added bonus of gut-friendly probiotics from the yogurt," Levi says.


    There are a few front-runners when it comes to the healthiest healthy fats.

    Monounsaturated fatty acids, which occur in large amounts in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil are great for heart health because they can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, says Levi.


    "It may sound counterintuitive, but putting healthy fats on your plate can absolutely help you hit your weight loss goals," Levi explains.

    Why? Fat fills you up. It takes longer for the body to digest fats compared to refined carbs, (such as white bread), which keeps you feeling full longer.

    Think about eating a boring salad — often you immediately crave something sweet or carb-rich. You can still eat that salad, but you'll want to add more healthy fats such as avocado, toasted walnuts and a tahini-based dressing. These additions up the satiety factor and in turn prevent cravings later in the afternoon, says Levi. Less cravings means less snacking which can mean less weight gain over time.

    You'll just want to take into account the serving size, as a typical serving of fats can vary depending on what source it is, Davis says. Generally, a serving is 1 teaspoon of oil, 2 tablespoons of salad dressing or fat-based sauce, 1/4 an avocado or 1/2 ounce of nuts.


    How to Increase Muscle & Minimize Fat Gain

    How to Increase Muscle & Minimize Fat Gain

    Originally published on


    You clicked on this article because you want to put on slabs of muscle, right?  Here’s the part that scares people… You need to put yourself in a caloric surplus in order to accomplish that. Yes, the same surplus that causes so many to gain dreaded body fat.  The question becomes, can you effectively increase muscle mass while minimizing fat gain?  To put it simply, yes.  You can increase muscle while minimizing fat gain.  However, there is a balancing act that needs to take place.  So, put your arms out, steady yourself, and let’s jump in. 

    Below in this article will be some of the best tips and tricks to keep your body fat under control while trying to increase muscle mass.  But first, let’s discuss the difference between bulking cycles as they differ significantly. 

    Clean Bulking Vs. Dirty Bulking

    If you’re trying to increase muscle and minimize fat gain, you will want to focus on clean bulking.  What does that mean?  It means keeping your nutrition in check while in a caloric surplus and filling it with healthy macronutrients – clean sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  Notice how all three macronutrients are included in the previous sentence?  That’s because they are all going to fill a role when trying to increase muscle mass. 

    On the opposite side of the spectrum is dirty bulking.  This approach is where you eat anything and everything in an effort to put on weight (including fast food) – which can lead to massive increases in fat gain. 

    The tips below will fall under the clean bulking method as the last thing you want to do is put on a ton of body fat (you will gain a little during a clean bulk, though) and then spend the next several months on a treadmill trying to lose all of that weight which in the process could strip away some of your hard-earned muscle. 

    Track Your Nutrition

    The goal when trying to increase muscle mass while minimizing fat gain is not allowing your caloric surplus to get away from you.  While you need to eat more than you would to achieve your maintenance level, that doesn’t mean taking a 2,000-calorie maintenance and jumping up to 4,000 calories per day, thinking the almighty Gainz God is going to shine down on you. 

    Take it slow and increase your calories by around 10% and see how you fair after a week.  If you notice you’re gaining weight, but when you check your body fat it’s gone up, back it down a little bit to around a 5% increase in your calories.  Remember, slow and steady will help prevent fat gain.  Strive for 0.5-1.0lb of weight gain each week.  Anything more and you’re potentially adding body fat. 

    At the same time, track your nutrition with something like MyFitnessPal.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and while you may think you’re at a sweet spot with your nutrition, you could either be drastically over or drastically under your calories, which will not provide you the results you’re looking for. 

    Prioritizing Protein

    Protein is your friend.  You need protein in order to help increase muscle mass.  Strive for around 1g per pound of body weight.  Make sure you have protein in every meal and each snack.  Things like steak, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beef, nuts, seeds, legumes, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt, to name a few. 

    Achieving 1g can be difficult for some who aren’t used to eating a lot of protein.  Therefore, it may be wise to consider a protein supplement to help you increase your protein intake without force-feeding yourself. 

    NutraBio 100% Whey Protein Isolate would be a fantastic and clean protein source that is extremely low in carbohydrates while containing zero fat.  This allows you to enjoy a delicious treat while easily increasing your protein intake.  With more than a handful of flavors to choose from, you’ll always have a wide selection to choose from, regardless of what you’re craving. 

    Leverage Your Carbohydrate Intake

    Where a lot of people go wrong is thinking they need to drastically increase their carbs in a bulk.  Not so fast. Instead, what you should do is be specific about when you are consuming your increase in carbs.   

    Leveraging your carbohydrate intake around your training will be your best bet.  Have a carb-filled meal pre-workout (around 60-90 minutes prior) to benefit from the added glycogen and then also post-workout (with a protein powder) to help replenish glycogen and kickstart the recovery process. 

    Keep Healthy Fats In Your Diet

    People tend to shy away from fat as they believe eating it will cause them to experience fat gain.  That’s not always true.  Consuming healthy fats will not only help you feel satiated, but it can also help balance hormones and even boost your testosterone levels (which you would greatly benefit from while bulking). 

    Look at natural sources like fish, steak, nut butter, seeds, and whole nuts.  Add those to your meals and reap the benefits of healthy fats. 

    Train Hard And Heavy

    This is pretty straightforward and one that we aren’t going to spend a lot of time on.  If you want to increase muscle, you need to lift heavy.  Now, that doesn’t mean maxing out each workout.  What it means is, using a weight you can achieve 8-10 repetitions with where the last few reps you’re really pushing yourself.  Going to failure on every set of every exercise is not going to be beneficial. 

    If you wanted to hit some isolation exercises at the end of your workout where you lighten the weight, go for it, but make sure if you’re hitting 15 reps where your muscles are on fire before you put the weight down (you want to make sure you are going to failure if using lighter weights to really break down those muscle fibers). 

    Back Off On The Cardio

    Now is not the time for marathon cardio sessions.  For health and heart benefits, you can still keep some cardio in your routine, but do not be obsessive with it as you’ll be burning off the calories you need to increase muscle mass – which will only force you to eat more food in order to make up for the reduction. 

    That being said, at least keeping some cardio in your plan will further help you minimize fat gain while you bulk.  Just make sure your calories at the end of the day are still around 10% higher than your maintenance. 

    Get Enough Sleep

    This section is incredibly important.  If you want to see any changes to your physique, you need proper rest and recovery.  You should strive for a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night.  Should you fall short, it could dramatically stall your progress.   

    Make sleep a priority and change around your schedule to allow for proper rest if you truly want to increase muscle mass.

    Mark Lost 100 lbs With These 8 Simple Rules

    Mark Lost 100 lbs With These 8 Simple Rules

    Follow Mark on Instagram @marksmellybell

    Mark Bell is a dedicated athlete, entrepreneur, and family man. After suffering from a major injury, Mark decided that it was time begin his next chapter and make a change. Fast forward to today, Mark has lost over 100 pounds and completely transformed his life by following these 8 simple rules, and you can too!

    1. WALK -
    Move! At least 3x/day. During your lunch break? Instead of that smoke break, maybe it’s 5 minutes out and 5 minutes back.

    2. FASTING
    I recommend, if you’re new to fasting to do it every other day! Just want you to adapt to the feeling of being hungry.

    3. MEAL PREP - personally, I’m not a fan of prepping my meals but that’s why I use @iconmeals. I’m less likely to cheat or make bad decisions when food is already prepared. Side effect: less money spent out at the bar or restaurant.

    4. EAT VEGGIES - “but but but people’s Coach, you said veggies are bad!” No no no. I think that people too heavily rely on them for nutrition, BUT if you’re in a caloric deficit and HUNGRY you’re less likely to reach for chocolate if you’re stuffed to the gills with heavy green veggies. It will fill you up. My only caveat to this, you must finish your protein before you finish your veggies... I don’t wanna hear “I’m too full to finish this chicken”

    5. KEEP PROTEIN HIGH — I personally choose protein leveraging. Example: before my meal, I’ll enjoy some protein like a chicken breast before my actual meal. I’m less likely to binge on the fun stuff like carbs or fats because I’m full. Every person should be getting 1g/ per pound of body weight MINIMUM.

    6. CUT CALORIE DRINKS - smoothies, juices, etc are marketed as “healthy” when all too often they are pumped with processed sugar, etc. People will rely on these and ignore protein & proper nutrient from other sources of foods. Ditch the juice and drink some water. I use @drinklmnt in my water to ensure I have enough electrolytes so I’m hydrated during my workouts.

    7. KEEP IT SIMPLE - keep your habits so simple, so easy that they are hard to say no to. Example: pop on the stair master for 5 minutes before and after my workout. That’s simple enough, right? Simple = repeatable. Compliance is the science!

    8. OCCUPY YOUR MIND — get after something you love to do. A hobby like lifting is something I’ve been doing since I was 12. So it’s my go-to


    Stay connected with Mark on

    IG: @marksmellybell
    Facebook: @marksmellybell
    YouTube: Mark Smelly Bell

    Fats For Aesthetics By Team ICON Member Brandan Fokken

    Fats For Aesthetics By Team ICON Member Brandan Fokken
    In this article, we’re going to go over what you need to know about how to use the fats you put on your plate for your aesthetic goals. It’s common sense, bad fats lead to bad health. But what we don’t often hear too much about… what about eating fat for your fitness goals? How much fat should you cut from your diet if you’re trying to cut body fat? Is Keto best? How is a high or low fat diet going to impact your performance in the gym if you’re looking to gain more muscle faster? We’ll cover the basics of what you need to know about dietary fat in general, then get goal-specific. 

    Read more

    Fuel Up On Food

    Fuel Up On Food
    If a car or truck requires specialty fuel like premium or diesel, an owner wouldn’t fill it with regular gas. When thinking of the body as a special mode of transportation, the types of food put into it should become more important. Different types of food provide the body with the variety of nutrients and energy it needs to function.

    Read more