The Fat Fix

 

The Fat Fix                                                               

By Jill Castle, MS, RDN

Fat gets a bad rap in the world today, its consumption associated with heart disease and obesity. But, fat has a beneficial role for humans, and for the growing swimmer, it can be a useful and strategic tool to manage weight. Whether the young athlete is trying to gain weight or lose a few pounds, fat is the single nutrient to manipulate, and here’s why:

  • Fat is a concentrated source of calories, offering 9 calories for every gram (versus 4 calories per gram in protein and carbohydrate). Whether you add it or subtract it from the diet, the impact will be on total calories.
  • Add it to the diet and help the underweight swimmer gain a few pounds.
  • Trim it out of the diet that contains too many calories (usually from too much fat or sugar) and help the swimmer slim down.
  • Target fat in the diet, protecting the more important nutrients for young athletes: carbohydrate and protein. Sports nutrition experts recommend adjustments in fat intake for the growing swimmer, rather than cutting out carbohydrates (fruit, veggies, whole grains or dairy foods) or protein foods.
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