I think it’s safe to say that we have all heard someone we know make a statement that goes something like, “Fats make you fat” or “Don’t eat too much fat or you’ll gain weight.” Throughout the years, dietary fat has been a widely misunderstood nutrient with tons of conflicting research that, to be honest, would make anyone confused. We have made it to the third and final post on macronutrients and today we are talking all things fat. Fats are the most calorically dense of the three macronutrients, meaning they contain more calories per gram. Don’t be scared of the higher calorie content! Fats are essential in our diet not only for their nutrition profile, but to help us stay full and satisfied in between meals.


Fats are crucial in supporting our metabolism, keeping various body tissues healthy, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many other nutrients. When we consume fat, it is either digested and used for energy, stored in fat (adipose) tissue, or incorporated into other body tissues and organs. A lot of our body tissues are made up of fat, including our brains and parts of our nervous systems. Even our cell membranes are fat-based. This means that the fat we consume literally becomes part of our cells. Pretty cool, right? If fat is so crucial for our bodies to function optimally, why has it had such a bad reputation?! Let’s explore what fat is and where we can find it in our diets.

Dietary fat is primarily comprised of two molecules, hydrogen and carbon. Together these molecules form hydrocarbons (simple enough, right?). These hydrocarbons can be configured in many different ways which then can create different types of fat that all have unique properties. Wait, there are different types of fat? Let’s break it down.

There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Again back to high school biology class, you might remember studying these types of fats and their properties. Within these two overarching groups of fats, there are also poly-unsaturated, mono-unsaturated, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Wait, what?! Here’s the breakdown.


Saturated Fats:

Solids at room temperature

Primarily found in our diet from animal sources (milk, cheese, poultry, processed meats, beef, etc.)

Excessive intake of these types of fats are potentially associated with certain chronic diseases (ie heart disease) and even types of cancer.


Unsaturated Fats:

Liquids at room temperature

Found in plant sources

Research shows these fats to be beneficial as they can improve blood cholesterol levels, aid in inflammation, and reduce risk for stroke and heart disease.

-Mono-unsaturated fats: Unsaturated dietary fat found in plant foods such as nuts/seeds, avocados, olive and canola oils

-Poly-unsaturated fats: Second type of unsaturated dietary fat found in plant foods and some seafood. These fats are considered essential fatty acids. This means that our body cannot synthesize them internally, thus we need them from our diet. These types of fats are broken down into omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

-Omega-3 fatty acids: Important for cardiovascular function, immunity, brain development, and nervous system function. Sub-groups of this type of fatty acid include DHA and EPA (found in fish oils) and ALA (found in walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds)

-Omega-6 fatty acids: Similar to omega 3-fatty acids as far as their role and function; these fatty acids also help stimulate hair and skin growth, regulate metabolism, and maintain bone health and the reproductive system. Be careful! The typical American diet tends to consume up to 20 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. This is largely due to the fact that we consume a lot of processed foods rich in soybean, palm, and sunflower oils. Try opting for more nuts/seeds and less processed snacks.


So, what do I recommend? The key is to focus on whole food fat sources. Try incorporating a variety of fat types from nuts, seeds, fish, olive oils, avocados, etc. (rich in healthy fats) while avoiding processed, artificial, and factory-made foods (high in unhealthy fats). Keeping it simple is key. Adding sliced avocado, toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, or canned salmon/tuna to a salad are great ways to incorporate added healthy fats into a meal.. Another idea is to drizzle olive oil over carrots or sliced sweet potatoes and roast them in the oven for a quick side dish! Tell me, how do you get your healthy fats in?!

Xx, Mary Claire



I often hear people telling me that they are cutting out carbohydrates from their diet or they are trying to limit their carb intake, but why? Many people have a misconception about what carbohydrates are, what they do for our bodies, and what foods they are found in. So I have decided to dedicate an entire post to talking all about CARBS!

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Carbohydrates are considered one of the 3 primary macronutrients in our diet. Macronutrients (i.e. fats, carbohydrates, and protein) encompass the bulk of the calories we consume every day. Many carbohydrates occur naturally in plant-based foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts/seeds. Food companies also add carbohydrates to processed foods mostly in the form of starch or added sugar. So are carbohydrates inherently bad for us? Let’s dig deeper:

When we eat carbohydrates, they break down and are digested into simple sugars that are then absorbed into our bloodstreams where they are known as blood sugar or blood glucose. From there, this glucose enters our body’s cells with the help of a hormone called insulin. This glucose fuels all of our organs to sustain us and perform daily activities hence why carbohydrates are so important in our diet! Our brain depends on glucose as its main source of energy, requiring continuous delivery of glucose from the blood to perform work efficiently. Thus, think about what happens when we skip breakfast in the morning… by mid-morning we might feel super lethargic and maybe even a bit hangry. Our body has gone multiple hours without any nutrition which means we have to rely on any energy that is stored up in our cells to sustain our brains and essential organs until our next meal. It might be a tendency for some to reach for a quick source of carbohydrates such as a can of soda, a candy bar, chips, etc. We might feel better for upwards of a few hours, but will eventually crash again thus continuing this cycle.


So, what can we eat to provide our bodies with sustained energy? Let’s explore some excellent sources of carbohydrates that have the ability to make us feel our best.

  1. Fruits and vegetables. This might seem like a no-brainer, but many of us lack adequate fruits and vegetables in our diet. Not only do these foods provide carbohydrates, but they also offer FIBER. Fiber is awesome because it slows our digestion down and helps regulate our bodies’ use of sugar, thus keeping us fuller longer and providing sustained energy. Win-win. Fruits and vegetables also provide phytonutrients (think: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants). These compounds are what give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. The more variety, the more phytonutrients! I often have patients and clients who are apprehensive of eating fruits because of the sugar content. Don’t be afraid of eating whole fruits! We must consider what an entire food item offers us rather than simply focusing on one single nutrient. Whole fruits = fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

  2. Whole grains. Many of us are used to eating refined grains (think white rice, white bread, crackers, processed snacks, etc). What is the difference between refined and whole grains? Refined grains are milled, a process that removes certain parts of the grain kernel stripping away essential vitamins and fiber. Try choosing whole grain options such as brown rice, whole grain breads, and oatmeal. You can also find less common but still just as delicious whole grain options for budget friendly prices such as quinoa, buckwheat, and farro. These options will make you feel fuller for longer and will also give your body continuous energy for many hours.

  3. Legumes. Examples of legumes include beans, peas, and lentils. I feel like legumes are often overlooked or undervalued, but these little gems are LOADED with nutrition and are CHEAP! These sources of carbohydrates provide essential micro-nutrients, fiber, as well as loads of plant-based protein (more on protein in a future post). I love using legumes to bulk up salads or eating them over brown rice for a filling plant-based quick meal!

There ya have it! Interested in learning more about carbohydrates and how to incorporate them more into your diet? Want a meal plan that includes yummy fiber rich carbohydrate recipes? I've got you covered. Let's connect!

Xx, Mary Claire






Photos by Amy Beth Strang