Over the past 20 years or so fats have gotten a pretty bad rap in the media. Fats have been blamed for the extraordinarily high rates of obesity and heart disease in the United States. And despite the proliferation of low- or non-fat foods over the past two decades, instead of getting better, the problem is getting worse. A huge part of the problem stems from the fact that most people have a very distorted view of fats and the roles they play in our bodies.
Unsaturated fats are extremely important to building lean muscle mass, increasing strength and maintaining overall good health. In fact, studies show that people who adhere to very low fat diets develop less muscle mass than guys who incorporate a moderate amount of healthy fats into their diets. Researchers have also noted that people who follow an extremely low-fat diet frequently develop dry skin, suffer from increased hair loss, stiff joints and low energy levels.
Among the unsaturated fats, Omega-3s, which are known as ‘essential fatty acids’ or EFAs, are one of the most beneficial. Omega-3s are rich in antioxidants and muscle-building nutrients and come from a variety of sources, most notably from fish.
And since it’s not always convenient to eat fish ever day of the week, fish oil capsules—rich in Omega-3s—are available as a nutritional supplement. If fish oil is not currently part of your daily nutritional regimen then you should definitely start taking it. Consider this—a Danish study found that a regular regimen rich in Omegas can: enhance stamina by as much as up to 60%; improve muscular development; help speed-up the recovery process; improve cardiovascular function; and improve the body’s fat-burning capacity.
Omega-3s help stimulate the function of hormones involved in fat burning in the body while suppressing the function of those involved in fat production. In addition, Omega -3s can lower triglycerides and reduce fats in organs, tissues, and under the skin by burning them as fuel. In other words, Omega-3s help turn your hormonal system into a fat-burning, muscle-building machine.
Now here’s the thing about Omega-3s—because they’re essential fatty acids, it means that the body cannot manufacture them. Although they are necessary for proper functioning, the only way for the body to obtain EFAs is either through food or through nutritional supplements. As noted earlier, fish—in particular, salmon, tuna and halibut—is an excellent source of Omega-3s. Other sources of Omega-3s include algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils.
Researchers have known about the essential functions of Omega-3s and other EFAs since the 1930s, but it’s only been over the last 30 years or so that awareness of their true potential has begun to develop. For example, in the 1970s researchers noted the extraordinarily low rates of cardiovascular disease among the Inuit people of Greenland.
The researchers noted that even though the Inuit people consumed large amounts of fat from meat, they displayed virtually no cardiovascular disease. Experts later determined that the high level of Omega-3 essential fatty acids consumed by the Inuit reduced triglycerides, heart rate, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis.
In the 1990s, researchers began to note that in addition to the health benefits noted above, Omega-3s are extremely beneficial in driving muscle growth and stimulating fat loss. Studies have shown that Omega-3s from fish oil help keep muscles from breaking down as quickly as they normally do. When muscles are built faster than they break down, it makes them larger and harder to break down.
Omega-3s have also been shown to boost insulin metabolism, which optimizes muscle fiber growth. Researchers also noted that bodybuilders who include Omega-3 fish oil as part of their daily supplement regimen, benefit directly from fish oil by experiencing fewer cramps and less pain. This is thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3s, which is an additional health benefit.
Given the solid body of research supporting the numerous health and muscle-building benefits it offers, there is no reason that Omega-3 fatty acid from fish oil should not be a daily staple for everybody—especially bodybuilders and guys looking to build muscle and burn fat. Click the image below for a ground breaking follow up article!