The fitness and health industry would have everyone believe that fats are bad for them and could lead to a host of issues. This has resulted in a widespread phobia of fats as people adopt diets that eliminate them from diet. However, fats can be of great help if they’re chosen and utilized properly, and there’s a huge difference between essential dietary fats and what the word commonly refers to.
Kinds of Fat
Fats can be classified into two categories, saturated and unsaturated. The former are usually comprised of a small portion of hydrogenated oils and high cholesterol content. Unsaturated fats are those that are high in omega 3, 6 and 9.
The human body needs these essential fats in order to function properly. They facilitate the proper functioning of vital organs like the brain and heart, as well as production of essential hormones. These are especially useful for muscle building. Without these essential fats, the body would struggle to function properly.
The Importance of Healthy Fats in Bodybuilding
Obviously, proteins and carbohydrates are essential dietary components for bodybuilders. With time, various dietary plans to control their consumption have been developed. However, most fitness enthusiasts tend to overlook fats when coming up with a nutrition plan.
Upon embarking on a bodybuilding diet, one of the first things most people do is to get rid of fat from their diets. Though this appears logical due to the need to lose fat, it could turn out counterproductive and come in the way of achieving the set bodybuilding targets.
A deficiency of essential fats hinders muscle development and could lead to a dry skin. Bodybuilders are especially prone to this because they tend to completely omit fats in their diet. As such, one could become lethargic during the cutting phase as a result of diminished vitality levels. Fats also help keep of heart rhythm disturbances, knee pain and arthritis.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
Omega-3 (alpha linoleic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid) are the 2 EFAs which cannot be synthesized by the human body and therefore need to be obtained from diet. Alpha linoleic acid can be obtained from hemp seeds, walnuts, canola, flax and soybeans. Omega-6 fats are naturally obtainable from sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and safflower.
Unlike with carbohydrates, the energy contained in vital unsaturated fats cannot be extracted rapidly. Energy synthesis from fats, enhanced by omega-3 EFAs, is a gradual process. However, glycogen can be extracted faster and more efficiently from carbs with the help of EFAs.
EFAs are vital in facilitating proper functioning of the nervous system. The nervous system is rich in biologic structures that require rapid movement, like transport channels in the retina and brain. As such, omega-3s thus benefit the brain and vision, among others.
Essential fatty acids also help boost exercise performance. They affect insulin sensitivity, enhance weight loss and promote the secretion of growth hormones. Fish oil in particular possesses anti-catabolic effects. They ensure that the major structural proteins that make up muscle mass aren’t broken down, which is basically a bodybuilders major goal.
If one notices that their energy levels, muscle mass and macro nutrients levels are reducing, then it could be due to a deficiency of essential fatty acids. Supplementing with flax or fish oil could help alleviate this. Once the body’s EFA requirements are met, one may notice improvements in strength, muscle mass and mood.
Roberto A. Giraldo is a fitness, bodybuilding enthusiast, doctor, and nutrition expert. He loves everything that makes people move and live a healthy life. Roberto wrote hundreds of articles in the health and fitness industry. His mission is to help as many people as he can to build lean muscle mass or burn fat.