Fast Facts on Fats & Fish Oil

Fish OilMuch to the surprise of many, dietary fat does not necessarily equal body fat. While certainly there are bad sources of fat in the diet that harm the body, there are also incredibly important and absolutely essential healthy fats in very specific foods and supplements which can actually promote fat loss!

Looking to minimize but not eliminate dietary fat from any source is an essential concept to apply when looking for body fat loss. But when looking for tone and shape, one must take this same portion of the diet which comes from fat and switch it to a specific source. The less healthy sources of fat are the so-called “saturated” fat and “trans” fat. But some sources of fat are very functional and actually essential to the body. Due to its essential nature, proper amounts of healthy dietary fats will help you lose body fat and increase muscle. You see, the assumption that fat in your diet is synonymous with fat on your stomach, buttocks, and hips is incorrect. Healthy fats don’t make you fat and sick. They actually increase the quality of your appearance and health. Unhealthy fats are the problem. If you are interested in body shape and tone, then understand that fat has a critical role.

It is unfortunate that much of the nutritional information available today fails to mention the fact that, like the essential amino acids of protein, fat also contains essential fatty acids which must be ingested in food since they cannot be produced by the body. The two essential fatty acids, and the ones focused on by modern health practitioners are derived from fish oil. One is alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid, or “n-3”) and the other is linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid, or “n-6”).

Because many foods (even healthy ones) contain the n-6 variety, we typically get plenty of it (such as those with diets rich in corn, safflower, and peanut oils), whereas we tend to not get enough of the n-3 variety, which is partially converted by your body into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These essential fats are found in great amounts in fish oils (i.e., mostly cold-water fish, such as anchovies, sardines, salmon, tuna, and mackerel). They can also be found in wild game (i.e., rabbit and venison).

With all this explained, consider the incredible health benefits of these healthy fats. The so-called healthy fats (EPA/DHA) protect the heart and ease the passage of blood through the arteries that feed the heart. They may protect against abnormal heartbeats called arrhythmias and can reduce blood clotting. And among a host of other benefits, EPA/DHA may even help you burn the fat off your body, according to some research. I have also found in my practice that EPA/DHA supplementation, when under a physician’s supervision, can play a part in fat loss. In addition, essential fats have been shown to be powerful substances that stop the breakdown of lean muscle tissue. This is why the ideal fat intake approach for building shape and tone includes a diet that works fish into the diet.

Here are two tips for getting unhealthy fat out of your diet and healthy fat into your diet:

  • Consume cold-water fish, such as sardines, anchovies, tuna, salmon, and mackerel. (Note: Women who might become pregnant and other groups should limit their consumption of certain types of fish, according to these FDA guidelines.)
  • Supplement the diet with essential fatty acids when necessary (i.e., fish oil supplements in the form of EPA and DHA).

TELL US: What are some of your favorite fish-focused meals?

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