This Guide Teaches You:
- What essential fatty acids are, and why they must be obtained by diet.
- Learn about the 2 important familes of EFAs: omega-3s and omegas-6s.
- Why consuming EFAs in a ratio of 3:1 to 4:1 is beneficial to muscle building, fat loss and recovery.
- What the EFAs daily requirements are for men and women.
- Learn about the best food and supplement sources for omega 3s and omega 6s.
- Why it's important to look for a 3:1 ratio or higher of omega-3 to omega-6 when purchasing supplements.
- Why fish oil, flaxseed oil, and EFA blends all make great choices for supplements.
Table of Contents:
- 1. What are the EFA’s?
- 2. Role Of EFAs In Muscle Growth And Fat Loss
- 3. How Much Do You Need?
- 4. Best Sources Of EFAs
- 5. Choosing An EFA Supplement
- 6. Conclusion
From the first time that most of us ever picked up a weight we were told that we should eat foods that are high in protein and low in fat. In fact, most of society is under the assumption that they should eat as little fat as possible because it is the only way to stay lean. Fat has kind of gotten a bad reputation in the past but not all fat is bad. There are certain fats that your body requires in order to build muscle, burn fat, and remain healthy. These fats are called Essential Fatty Acids or EFAs for short.
These types of fat are considered essential because they must be obtained through diet and cannot be synthesized within the body. The human body uses these fats for many biological processes and many of these processes are integral to getting the most results from your training and diet. So how do you know which fats you should be getting, what they do, and how much you should be getting? That is simple…. Just keep reading!
What Are The EFA’s?
There are two families of EFAs. These are omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. These fats are considered essential since they cannot be synthesized by the body. Omega 9 fatty acids are necessary but are considered “non essential” because the body can manufacture modest amounts of them provided there are enough EFAs present.
It is important to consume an ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. The ideal ratio is between 4:1 and 3:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3 but the average person has an intake somewhere between 10:1 to 25:1. Even serious lifters tend to have a largely skewed ratio of omega fatty acids. This will not only slow down growth, repair, and fat loss immensely, but also lead to a number of health problems.
- Alpha Linolenic Acid (LNA)
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
Although all 3 types of omega 3's are important LNA can be converted to both EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are the omega-3's your body requires but ingesting LNA will ensure that needs are met.
- Linoleic Acid (LA)
- Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA)
- Dihomogamma Linoleic Acid (DGLA)
- Arachidonic Acid (AA)
Just like LNA can be converted to other omega-3's, LA can be converted into the other omega-6 fatty acids.
Role Of EFAs In Muscle Growth And Fat Loss
So how do EFAs exactly help with your muscle growth goals? They actually work through a number of different pathways to help build muscle. One way that EFAs lend a hand in the muscle growth process is through their process in the formation of eicosanoids. LNA and LA are metabolized into eicosanoids. Eicosanoids can be further classified into leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and thromboxanes.
Although leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and thromboxanes all serve important processes within the body, prostaglandins are of particular importance to bodybuilders. This is because prostaglandins serve to:
- Elevate growth hormone secretion
- Increase muscle cell protein synthesis
- Increase insulin sensitivity
- Help maintain proper testosterone levels
Each one of these functions will directly lead to enhanced muscle growth for hard training lifters and bodybuilders.
EFAs will not only help in the process of muscle growth though. EFAs will have a profound effect on fat formation and metabolism. LNA, EPA, and DHA have all been shown to increase lipolysis (body fat breakdown) and decrease lipogenesis (body fat formation). This combination of less fat being formed and more fat being utilized for energy will lead to a very beneficial effect on body composition.
These benefits are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full health and bodybuilding effects that EFAs can have. Along with the above EFAs have the following benefits and functions.
- Decrease inflammation
- Strengthen immune system
- Enhance stamina
- Allow more frequent training without over training symptoms
- Speed recovery
- Lower high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Speed healing of injuries
- Improve sleep
- Improve concentration
- Treat arthritis
- Improve skin conditions
- Diffusion of oxygen into the bloodstream
- Improve cardiovascular function
- Enhance absorption of fat soluble vitamins
Obviously, that is a long list. This just serves to prove that the importance EFAs simply cannot be ignored. Having an EFA deficiency will not only lead to a whole whole host of health problems but will severely interfere and short change muscle growth and fat loss.
How Much Do You Need?
To although the official acceptable intake of Omega-3 intake is currently set at 1.6 grams per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women. Research suggests that a higher intake can be beneficial. Here are the recommended intakes to promote optimal muscle growth, fat loss, and health.
- Men - 3-3.5 grams per day from all sources
- Women - 2.5-3 grams per day from all sources
- Men - 9-14 grams per day from all sources
- Women - 7.5-12 grams per day from all sources
Best Sources Of EFAs
EFAs can be ingested from food or in supplement form. Either way works well but one thing to keep in mind is that most foods are high in Omega-6 but low in Omega-3. For this reason many find it useful to use a supplement. Here are the best sources of essential fatty acids:
- Fish oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Sesame seeds
- Some dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach,mustard greens, collards, etc.)
- Canola oil (cold-pressed and unrefined)
- Whole eggs
- Flaxseed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Pistachio nuts
- Sunflower seeds (raw)
- Olive oil, olives
- Borage oil
- Evening primrose oil
- Chestnut oil
Choosing An EFA Supplement
EFA supplements are not only useful to make sure daily requirements of essential fatty acids at met but also make it easy to make sure intake of omega-6’s do not become out of proportion with omega-3’s. For this reason it is wise to look for a supplement that contains a 3:1 ratio or higher of omega-3 to omega-6.
Fish oil, flaxseed oil, and EFA blends all make great choices for supplements. They will come in both capsule and oil form. There are pros and cons to both. Capsules are far more convenient than oil and do not have the taste that many people do not like. Oils on the other hand offer the benefit of being a bit more cost effective and can be mixed with things such as protein shakes or oatmeal. The important thing is to find what would work best for your lifestyle and personal preference.
When it comes to muscle growth protein will always be the superstar of the show by gathering all the attention, but now you know that fats play a vital role in the process of muscle growth and fat loss. So while protein works in the spotlight EFAs will go to work behind the scenes.
You work too hard training and following your diet to have all of your efforts thwarted simply because you failed to take in enough healthy fats. So take your fish oils, eat your almonds, and drink your flax oil because this will put you on the path to the body you always wanted.
Doesnt seem like anyone has commented on here in over a year.Oh well justvwill have to check back.
I was out of fish oil with omega-3.Well quite honest i didnt think they were really doing anything for me.Well was i wrong.I am 50 and been pretty active mynwhole life and when younger i played football,basketball and most loved sport was baseball.Well i went a week without the fish oil and did i feel and notice the aches and pain.Alot from old injuries.I will continue using them.But what i wanna know what are the best ones quality you can buy that helps with cardio,and everything else?There are so many out there and was told you get what you pay gor.You buy a bottle of Rexall for $3.50 well your noth getting the best.So what are the best ones to buy without the fishy smell on your breath and no burping.
I've provided a link below to our top fish oil products. From there you can check out ratings and reviews from verified customers to make the best informed decision for your needs.
Hope this helps!
You claim throughout your article the recommended daily dose of omega-3 to omega-6 is: 3:1 or 4:1 e.g. "it is wise to look for a supplement that contains a 3:1 ratio or higher of omega-3 to omega-6." However the way you have written this is misleading and WRONG, because this states one should have more omega-3 compared to omega-6. It should be written as the daily dose of omega-3 to omega-6 is 1:3 or omega-6 to omega-3 is: 3:1. You need to make it more clear one needs more omega-6 compared to omega-3, rather than the other way around which is wrong.
I never knew there was a omega -6.What is the difference in the two exactly?So what your saying is i should be using omega-6 over omega-3?????
Best article in health and EFA supplement Thanks
I suffer acne do EFA's help with this skin condition
There isn't any research showing a correlation between fish oil and a subsequent reduction in acne. The only evidence at present shows a slight decrease in the potential for sun burns by improving the omega 3:6 ratio.
I am wondering the same thing
For acne try clean your intestines. use oxypowder to clean wastes from u intestines. You can find on net how to do liver cleanse this will give you healthy liver to clear toxins.
Use skin wash will help too.
hey i'm from india can you tell me what types of food i should eat for gaining wait .i wanna gain wait
Do not increase omega3 if you do not intend to also lower omega6. Ideal ration 1/1 impossible with american diet of startch and sugar. Aim for 4/1 omega 6 to omega 3. Krill oil good source of omega 3. Eat grass fed animals, stay away from grain yourself. To Amy re; breakfast, lose the oatmeal, scramble the whole egg, it is a balanced food, lecithin in the yolk, dont be scared of it, substitute the bananna for fresh berries of any kind, and for god sake use coconut oil to scramble your egg in, tree of life sells cold expelled refined coconut oil great for cooking up to 450 degrees, coconut oil is great for your skin and it kills yeast in your intestine. Learn what is in your food before you eat it, dont rely on sport magazine breakfast guides. Good Luck. And educate yourself on GMO crops in this country and learn where the real poisons are in your food. Good Health.
I've never come across any fitness and health related website as M&S. I feel like I am becoming an expert in fat loss guidance.
Thanks M&S - Your the best.
this article is great!!!! other than the fact thaall the info is flipped around!! the ratio of omega 3 to 6 is reversed in the recomendations! please read and revise or this makes no sense to the average person.
I had to read it twice because I skimming but anyone using these pages it is assumed are truly studying them. It is best they have to slow down and really read and not try to skim the pages like I was. Good thing I was taking notes too :) LOL
can I take both Flax and Fish oils? I mean im buying these 2 kinds of fatty acid supplement in capsule form, or should I take either of the two?
I didn't realise just how beneficial EFAs were and was glad to see that I eat a lot of the food mentioned in the article that contain them. I've been taking fish oil supplements (and more recently flax seed oil) for a while now as I run a lot and weight train and wanted to primarily keep my joints in good working order but there's obviously so many other benefits of eating these foods and taking the supplements too!
A good recipe for flax seed oil that I have for brekky is oats, egg whites and banana blended then cooked in a non stick fry pan like a pancake. Once taken off the heat I drizzle flax seed oil on top (as your not supposed to heat the oil) and enjoy!