What are Essential Fatty acids and are they really essential? Why bodybuilders need EFAs to maximize muscle and assist with fat loss.
You are selling your results short by not giving your body all the nutrients it needs. I am talking specifically about the nutrients that are “essential” to the body. Essential nutrients are nutrients that the body cannot make and therefore must be obtained through the diet. Concerning the macronutrients, there are two groups of essential nutrients, Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) And Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).
Getting adequate protein in your diet each and every day is heavily stressed in the fitness community, but what is not stressed is getting in adequate Essential Fatty Acids each day. Why would you focus on only getting one of the two essential nutrients? Both EAAs (in the form of protein) and EFAs MUST be obtained from your diet. To get the best results possible you must focus on getting enough of both protein and essential fats.
There are two fatty acids that are essential to the body, the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) and the Omega-6 Fatty Acid Linoleic Acid (LA). ALA and LA are readily available in food, but to obtain their full benefits they must be converted into their long-chain metabolites, ALA to Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and LA to Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). Getting adequate healthy fats in your diet is the first step to getting these EFAs.
The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA as well as the conversion of LA to GLA is limited, so even if you get some ALA and LA in your diet you may not be getting enough EPA, DHA, or GLA. Adding fat sources that contain EPA and DHA and GLA (think Hemp Seed Oil) is the second step and ideal to ensure you get these essential fatty acid metabolites.
If you are deficient in EAAs, protein synthesis cannot proceed at its full rate due to lacking the needed building blocks (Amino Acids) to build muscle tissue. The same holds true for the EFAs. Being deficient in EFAs and their metabolites will decrease protein synthesis and muscle repair due to lacking the needed materials. An EFA deficiency may also cause your body to try to “hold on to” your body fat because it senses it does not have all the materials/nutrients it needs. So if you do not have enough EFAs then you are not gaining muscle and progressing at the rate you could and your fat loss can become impeded.
EPA and DHA have been shown:
- Decrease protein breakdown
- Decrease body fat mass
- Increase amino acid uptake
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Reduce blood pressure
- Increase insulin sensitivity
- Decrease inflammation
- Improve joint health
- Necessary for proper functioning of the brain
- Repair damaged cell membranes
- Provide building blocks for Eicosanoids (signaling molecules) and growth factors
- Increase cell membrane permeability (ability to transport nutrients in and out of cells)
GLA has been shown to:
- Decrease fat regain after a diet
- Decrease inflammation
- Improve nerve functioning
- Increase calcium absorption leading to stronger bones
- Improve skin health
- Decrease joint pain and swelling
- Improve blood pressure
- Assist in weight management
- Decreases PMS (A GLA deficiency may be responsible for some PMS symptoms)
- Boosts immune system
We see that EPA, DHA and GLA are vital for muscle growth and fat loss. To get in sufficient EFAs – and in a balanced 3:1 ratio, take Hemp Seed Oil – either in raw Oil or Capsules.