The Role Of Essential Fats In Bodybuilding

Doug Lawrenson
Written By: Doug Lawrenson
December 12th, 2006
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Nutrition
66.2K Reads
Learn why you should be getting the right amounts of essential fats to maximize muscle growth and fat loss.

Fish oilWe all have heard that fats make you fat, such as the hard and hydrogenated fats, also we are constantly being told that fats will also make you ill; mostly because of processing (frying) and hydrogenation and overheating of supermarket and low quality oils. As a result many people have become fat phobic and are looking for a low fat diet. But low fat diets can cause a lot of health problems.

A low fat diet will stunt the growth of children and causes dry skin. A lot of bodybuilders have dry skin due to low fat diets. They have low energy levels. They don’t produce the testosterone needed for muscle building on a low-fat diet. They get a leaky gut and food allergies and if they stay on a low fat diet for long enough then they can also suffer with the hair falling out, become sterile, knee pains, arthritis like conditions, heart rhythm disturbances.

In a Danish study it was found that quality nutritional oil blend with the correct 2:1:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 (EFAs) and omega-9 at the rate of 15ml per 25kg of bodyweight per day will:-

  • Enhance stamina by 40 - 60%
  • Improve muscular development (anabolic)
  • Allow more frequent training without over training symptoms
  • Speed recovery from exhaustion and training sessions.
  • Speed healing of injuries
  • Improve sleep in some athletes
  • Improve concentration
  • Improve skin conditions
  • Improve cardiovascular function
  • Lower cardiovascular function
  • Lower the insulin requirements in people with type 1 diabetes.

Unlike carbohydrates, which stimulate insulin and fat production in the body, a quality nutritional oil blend provides energy independent of insulin involvement. Also, omega-3 EFAs turn on genes involved in fat burning in the body, and turn off genes involved in fat production in the body. Omega -3 EFAs also lowers triglycerides (by increasing the amount burned for energy and decreasing the body’s own production), and reduces fats in organs, tissues, and under the skin by burning them as fuel. A nutritional oil blend is especially effective during a dieting down process if carbohydrate consumption is curtailed, and potassium is emphasised while sodium is lowered to prevent water retention. Because a nutritional oil blend does not raise insulin levels, blood sugar levels remain stable, and cravings, depression, and other problems caused by low blood sugar and lead to “carbohydrate addiction” are thereby avoided.

EFAs and the Anabolic "Window"

Essential fatty acids do not provide quick energy in the same way that carbohydrates do. The production of energy in the body from fats, effectively enhanced by omega-3 EFAs, is more slow and steady.

The production of glycogen coming from carbohydrates is enhanced by EFAs, because they enhance the use of fats for energy rather than carbs. The carbs are then more easily stored as glycogen. EFAs (especially omega -3 EFAs) increase the activity of the genes involved in glycogen production.

EFAs and Digestion

Oils slow down digestion. Hence amino acids are absorbed more slowly. Of course, there are other ways of slowing the digestion of amino acids and that is by eating fibre with your protein.

By using EFA with protein decreases the potential that whey has for spiking insulin, so by combining protein/carbs/EFAs will delay the digestion of the meal.

Degradation of EFAs by light and air

EFA-rich oil blends have to be made with great care, they should be kept in dark glass bottles that are packed in boxes and kept refrigerated at all times. This type of quality oil ensures that you are getting toxin free, intact essential fatty acids.

Use an oil blend with foods to enhance the flavor, and improve the absorption of oil-soluble vitamins and other important molecules from foods. You can take oils by the spoon but for best health use with your foods is better.

EFA Oil and Carbohydrates

Oils are compatible with all foods. It goes well with fibrous carbs as well as starches. Starches can lead to insulin and fat production, but are compatible with oil. For health, the best diet is based on greens, good fats, and proteins, with starches limited to the amount the body burn, which depends of the level of activity and metabolic rate.

How much EFA do we need?

Optimum use is 15ml of a quality nutritional oil blend per 25kg of body weight per day. That amount should be spread out over the course of the day and mixed with foods, due to taking a supplement like whey protein can spike insulin (due to fast digestion and absorption). Fats can lead to feeling heavy or nauseous if more is eaten at any one time than the liver can handle. If the oil is spread out over the course of the day and mixed with foods, it is most unlikely that the liver’s fat processing capacity will be exceeded and the unpleasant symptoms produced.

Do we need an EFA oil blend?

 Omega-3 intake today is about 16% of what people obtained 150 years ago, and intake was already low at that time. Most processed omega-6 EFA rich oils are damaged by harsh processing. The omega-6 EFA rich oils most people use (corn, safflower, peanut, almond, sesame, soybean, canola, sunflower, etc) have been treated with caustic sodium hydroxide, harsh phosphoric acid, oxidizing bleaching clays, and then damaging high heat deodorisation carried out at or above frying temperature. Such oil can contain processing-damaged, toxic molecules. These toxic molecules can change gene expression, which then changes cell and tissue function, which can lead to molecular changes that result in inflammation, cancer and other forms of degradation.

Therefore avoid damaged omega-6 EFA rich oils. Omega-6 EFAs are just as essential as omegs-3 EFAs; a good quality oil blend will contain omega-6 EFAs from sunflower, sesame, and evening primrose oil.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFAs are both essential for the health of every cell, tissue, gland, and organ, both should be made and used with health in mind. It is for this reason that it is not recommended to cook with oils at all, and is the main reason why you should use quality oils developed with health (rather than shelf life in mind).

Should EFAs be included in your total calorie intake?

 Yes, from a conventional perspective, a nutritional oil blend contains the same amount of calories as other fat, yielding 9 calories per gram; however essential fatty acids have other, more important roles than just supplying energy. Once inside the body cells, small organelles called peroxisomes break down the EFA into building blocks needed throughout the body. At the same time the peroxisomes send signals to our DNA, altering how different genes are expressed through up regulation (turning up) and down regulation (turning down). Beneficial genes that code for things such as metabolic rate, Insulin sensitivity, cell growth, and maturation, glycogen production and fat metabolism are all up regulated, whilst ‘detrimental’ genes such as those that code for fat and cholesterol production, fat storage, glucose production in the liver and inflammatory responses are all down regulated. Therefore as you can see where EFAs are concerned a calorie isn’t just a calorie, which is why so much success is being seen with attests reducing their ‘refined’ carbohydrate (empty calorie) intake whilst increasing their EFA intake.

Essential fats play a key role in improving energy levels, stamina, performance, recovery, healing and fat loss. They are essential for all types of athletes. They are a health requirement for every man, woman, and child, young and old. They are major nutrients that we use in tablespoons, not milligram, amounts. They may improve brain function, skin conditions, digestion, cardiovascular health, immune function, joint problems, and general health, and prevent many health problems...

To include a nutritional oil blend into your diet:

Use an oil blend with foods to enhance the flavor and improve the absorption of oil-soluble vitamins and other important molecules from foods.

  • Pour oil onto your rice, pasta, or vegetables,
  • Mix oil with lemon juice, garlic, and black pepper and pour onto your salad as a dressing.
  • Blend oil into your protein shake or smoothie.
  • Drizzle onto your jacket potato to replace butter.

Many bodybuilders take it off the spoon, but it is your personal preference. Optimum is to use 15ml of a quality nutrition oil blend per 25kg of body weight over the course of each day.

Posted on: Sat, 05/03/2014 - 15:21

Article lost all credibility with statements like "They get a leaky gut and food allergies and if they stay on a low fat diet".

vivian gao
Posted on: Tue, 11/13/2012 - 00:38

The Role Of Essential Fats In Bodybuilding

Posted on: Sun, 08/12/2012 - 02:49

I need some examples of essentail fat foods to have incorporated in meal 4 alongside my protein ..... Ideas please !

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 14:26

Hey Annie,

Avocados are my absolute favorite. Olive Oil, natural peanut butter and almonds are my go-tos.