Don't be skeered! Fat is our friend. I promise. Mark says so! Without getting too scientific on you (and I am certainly no authority on the matter anyway), healthy (essential) fatty acids are a critical part of any athlete's diet. To simplify things completely, if you include healthy fats in your diet (around 30-40% of your daily caloric intake), your body will ultimately become more efficient at burning fat instead of carbs as fuel when you're doing your longer zone 1/2 workouts (if you're not pounding gels every 5 minutes, that is). Per Joe Friel's blog: "The body uses for fuel whatever it is given the most of. If you eat a diet high in carbohydrate, which at some times in the year is necessary (more on that at another time), it will prefer to use sugar for fuel. If you feed it more fat while reducing carbohydrate it will learn to use fat for fuel. That’s a good thing since it augments your aerobic endurance training." Wouldn't it be glorious if our bodies were constantly burning fat as fuel?
Some additional links to good info on fat if in need of some light reading this evening:
Here's the thing, see. Your options are kind of limited when it comes to the "right" fats. Here's my list, comment if you feel I've missed a biggie:
1. Avocados (I eat about one a day - they are SERIOUSLY the bomb. They make everything better, period.)
2. Nuts (walnuts and macadamia nuts have the best (lowest) omega 3:6 ratio around...cashews are just aight...almonds are surprisingly one of the worst with hardly any omega 3s to be found - but still a healthy source of fat, just in moderation! Peanuts are NOT nuts - they are legumes, and also have no omega 3s.) My problem with nuts is that you can only have like 3 of them and it's a zillion calories. I put a few on my salads or in my smoothies from time to time.
3. Eggs (look for labels that include increased levels of omega 3)
4. Grass-fed beef (higher omega 3s than grain fed)
5. Olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil
6. Salmon - the greatest fish of all time - and other oily fish (sardines, mackerel...check out the canned fish section)
Obviously everyone's dietary needs are different. I tend to try to get 30% of my total calories by way of healthy fats, 40% carbs and 30% protein. Typical American diets are generally higher in fat (but the WRONG kinds of fat - trans-fats/hydrogenated oils, etc), lower in protein and higher in carbs. Typical Americans are also kinda fat...likely due to the type of carbs they're ingesting amongst other things.
Hope this wasn't boring. I find this stuff interesting though, so at least I am entertaining me! Congrats to all the gals who killed it on the gravel today - very sad I wasn't out there. Back still hurts. We'll see how I feel tomorrow for Leonardtown.