As we covered before, of the three energy nutrients, fat has the most amount of calories per gram. Fat has a whopping 9 calories per gram, as opposed to 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate or protein. What this means to you is that you can eat twice as many grams of protein or carbohydrates and still not take in as many calories as you would eating the same amount of grams of fat. One must understand that fat is extremely important to the diet. Fat provides essential fatty acids, and is necessary for the proper functioning of cell membranes, skin and hormones, and for transporting fat-soluble vitamins. The body has total glycogen (stored form of carbs, and primary fuel for exercise) stores, including both muscle and liver, equaling about 2,500 calories, whereas each pound of body fat supplies 3,500 calories. This would mean that an athlete weighing about 163 pounds with 10 percent body fat has 16.3 pounds of fat, which equals roughly 57,000 calories. The problem lies in the amount of dietary fat that we consume.

In the average American diet, fat seems to prevail. We tend to have a fast food establishment on every corner. These fast foods are very affordable and convenient. Instead of preparing that meal for our kids, we take them to McDonald's or Burger King. While you're at it, you might as well pick up a burger and fries for yourself. You're pretty hungry, so let's super size it for an extra 39 cents. Many of us participate in this routine and wonder why the pounds are adding up and the scale is getting more and more disappointing. The average American gets 40 to 50 percent of their calories from fat. This is way too much, considering the amount of exercise that most of us do. Everything is so convenient today. We have a remote control for everything. Most adults and kids sit at home and play games or watch television instead of exercising. With this becoming the norm in society today, we must attack the problem from as many areas as we possibly can.

Fortunately, cutting down on your dietary fat intake can help the cause immensely. A good guideline is to keep your intake of dietary fat between 20 and 30 percent of your total daily calories. I like to keep mine right around 20 percent. Don't go below 10 percent for any lengthy amount of time. Sometimes, just to trick my body, I go below 10 percent for a couple of days and then go back up to roughly 20 percent.

You need to recognize first where your fat is coming from. Fat is hidden in many foods. It is present but not visible in dairy products such as cheese, ice cream and whole milk, also in bakery items, granola bars, french fries, avocados, chips, nuts and many processed foods. It is more clearly visible in margarine, butter, mayonnaise, salad dressing, oil and high fat meats. There are several ways that you can reduce the amount of fat you intake. We'll discuss a few.

Most box meals that you have to prepare (stove top stuffing, hamburger/tuna helper), call for butter, margarine or oil. One way to reduce the amount of fat that you eat is by cutting those high fat ingredients in half or substituting them for other lowfat products. The following are a few fat substitutes:

This should give you a little insight into how to substitute different meals. Now what about specific eating times. When should we eat certain foods? This is a very important issue also.

Most of the experts say that you should eat 5 to six small meals a day, instead of one to three big meals. I agree with this also. This gives your body good replenishment throughout the day. However, I must be honest with you and say that sometimes it is extremely difficult to settle down long enough to eat four to six times a day. I know of quite a few individuals who have the same problem. So what do they do? I'll tell you what. The next best thing. Plan your specific meals and the times in which you eat them. For example, I eat the meal with the most fat in it directly after my workout. Research shows that meals eaten at this time are extremely important because the body is metabolically set up to best use all of the nutrients at that time.

Furthermore, and I know you've heard this a million times, never eat meals late at night. This is the time when your metabolism is slowing down and your body is resting. Don't give that body a chance to store excess calories. One more thing that I know a lot of people hate doing is eating breakfast. Try to get in a good balanced breakfast. You would be amazed at the difference a good breakfast would make in the productivity of your day. Just a few pointers. We'll discuss more pointers when we sum up the series.

Now you should have a pretty good idea about fat and a few ways to substitute it. Also, you should have a few basic pointers on eating times. Next issue we'll sum all of the nutrition aspect of the road to physical fitness up and lead into the wonderful world of exercise. Until next time, stay pumped, stay motivated and OO-RAH!

Semper Fidelis!