In this article you will learn everything important about fats

What are fats?

Fats and fatty oils – to be distinguished from essential oils – are glycerine compounds. They are found in both animal and vegetable foods and have a very high energy density. 

What do we need fats for?

Nutrition Guide Macronutritional Fats

Fats serve the human body as a long-term energy store, which is needed in times of illness or emergency, for example. In addition, they serve as building materials around the organs, thermal insulation and a comaponent of the brain, as well as for the use of certain vitamins. Fats have the highest energy density of all nutrients. 

When are fats converted into energy?

Fats are excellent energy stores. If they are not used immediately after intake, they are stored in so-called fat depots. If you do not consume carbohydrates for a longer period of time, you can fall back on these reserve fats. The necessary energy is then obtained from them. Physical activity increases the fat-burning metabolic process in the body.

How many calories do fats have?

Fats provide a high number of calories with 9 kcal per gram of fat. 

How much fat is healthy?

Fats are a very broad group of substances and are needed by the body in varying amounts. If they cannot be provided by the body itself, they are called essential fats or fatty acids. Many of them are found as mono- or polyunsaturated fatty acids in nuts and seeds. Saturated fatty acids on the other hand are found in animal products. They provide a lot of energy, but also lead to rapid weight gain and should be consumed with caution.

What are saturated and unsaturated fatty acids?

Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between the carbon atoms, while unsaturated fatty acids have at least one double bond in the fatty acid chain.

The number of unsaturated bonds also influences whether a fat is solid or liquid at room temperature. Fats with plenty of saturated fatty acids, such as coconut fat or beef tallow, are solid at room temperature, while predominantly unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils tend to be liquid.

Which foods have saturated and unsaturated fatty acids

saturated fats:unsaturated fats:
MargarineRapeseed oil, olive oil, hemp oil
Palm oilChia seeds
Coconut oilBrazil nut kernels

animal fats (sausage, cheese)

ConfectionerySunflower seeds

What are trans fatty acids?

Trans fatty acids – also known as TFS – are unsaturated fatty acids with at least one trans-configured double bond between two carbon atoms. In human nutrition they are found as trans fats in dairy products, meat and industrially produced food. According to scientific studies, foods with higher proportions of trans fatty acids pose an increased health risk.

What functions do fats have in the body?

Fats are the main suppliers of energy for the human body and can be stored in depot fat. The amount of body fat is very variable and is 8-15 kg in a healthy man and 10-20 kg in a healthy woman. Fats also protect the organs from mechanical impact, are carriers of fat-soluble vitamins, starting compound for bile acids and hormones and are involved in the formation of vitamin D and prostaglandins. As structural and functional components of cell membranes, fatty acids play a central role in metabolism.

Fats in sport

A basic fat reserve is vital for the body as protection and storage, so it should not be undercut even by competitive athletes. Apart from this, fats play a role especially in endurance sports, where it is necessary to provide energy over long periods of time.

Learn more about macronutrients:

In the following articles you will learn more about macro nutrition, calories and their function.