Yep, you read that right - fats are not bad! In fact unprocessed and unrefined fats that you get from wholefoods (anything that didn't require a factory to be made) are in fact absolutely necessary in moderate quantities for optimal function! Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that absolutely trumps the list however, and coincidentally is also one most people who consume a standard western diet fail to get enough of - by far!
What's an essential fatty acid?
Essential fatty acids are fats that your body cannot synthesize, and must be obtained from your diet. They are crucial to your bodies health, particularly hormone and cell health. There are 2 types of essential fatty acids your body needs:
- Omega 3, and
- Omega 6
Alright, what's so good about omega-3 and why will it help get me shredded?
Omega-3 is unbelievable for more than just building muscle and dropping body fat, however we'll just talk business right now, and then get back to that other stuff we quietly know you're not as interest about. Omega-3 has multiple effects on the body to help build muscle and burn fat:
1. Increased Insulin Sensitivity
If you don't know the importance of insulin yet, I highly recommend you do a bit of homework on it. It's the most anabolic (tissue (muscle) growing) hormone known to man as it drives nutrients into cells to help fuel and grow them, and yes, you can control it! However when you don't exercise enough, or at all, and you eat too many carbohydrates for what your body needs, your fat and muscle cells become more resistant to insulin, thus decreasing the amount of nutrients that can enter the cell. It does this to protect your cells as they are already too full of glycogen or fat. This consequently means your muscle cells can no longer accept as many amino acids, glucose and other nutrients it requires to grow larger! Obviously bad news, but to make matters worse, it also means your body cannot burn fat as well either! Omega-3 however decreases your cells resistance to insulin by making them more sensitive, and thus allowing you to build more muscle and help drop more body fat.
2. Increased Fat Burn Potential
Let's talk bang-for-your-buck here. Wouldn't it suck if for all the exercise you performed, you didn't burn as many fatty acids that were released from your fat cells as you potentially could have? Well omega-3 can help make sure that doesn't happen! Omega-3 has been shown to help switch on enzymes that oxidise fatty acids for energy - meaning you burn more of the fat your body releases!
3. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Remember that other fatty acid I was talking about called omega-6? Well that son-of-a-bitch is pro-inflammatory, meaning it increases inflammation in the body, and it is consumed in abundance in the western diet! Inflammation is, for the most part, bad news - we want to decrease inflammation as much as possible on a day-to-day basis, and what do you know, omega-3 has your back again. Whenever you perform a workout you create an inflammatory response in your body to the areas that were placed under great stress. This is fine in short periods when it is acute, and in fact necessary, however we want to keep it acute and prevent it from becoming chronic. The combination of an already high pro-inflammatory omega-6 consumption combined with acute inflammatory responses from training, means your body is prone to decreased recovery, muscle building and body fat burning potential. Increasing your omega-3 consumption will significantly help reduce inflammation and help prevent an acute inflammation response from turning chronic.
Sweet, so how do I get it?
High quality fish oil supplements and fish are the best form of omega-3 as they have both EPA and DHA (the best acids that make up omega-3). Fish oil supplements do not contain any traces of mercury or other toxins that can be harmful to your body, and are the best sources for daily omega-3 intake. However, don't opt for the cheap stuff you find in most grocery stores, just like most other things in life, you get what you pay for! Search for ocean sourced fish instead of the farm-raised fish oils, which can be found in most health food and supplement stores. Fish sources of omega-3 include:
- Lake trout
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
Apparently it's good for other things as well?
Yep, it's also one of the best things you can take for general health! Studies have shown it can also help with:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Baby development
- Brain development and function
- Alzheimer's disease and dementia
Stop being afraid of fats (the right type of course) and start growing muscle, and shrinking your waistline!