Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids

Fats are an absolutely necessary nutrient in a healthy diet. But bodybuilders today often go on such low-fat diets that they develop dietary fat deficiencies. However, foods and supplements are available that supply these "good" fats in the necessary amounts.

Fish oil. Instead of low-fat fish, try salmon, trout, or mackerel. Fish fats cannot readily be made in the body, but are needed by organs (especially - brain). You may take fish oils in supplement form.

Polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Two valuable oils are linoleic and linolenic acids. Supermarket oils, such as corn, sunflower, and safflower oils, cannot provide linoleic acid. Soybean oil is the only supermarket oil that contains linolenic acid. Flaxseed oil, which can also be found in walnuts and pumpkin seeds, is the ideal source of linolenic acid.

MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides). Obtained from coconut oil, MCTs have an unjustified reputation in the world of bodybuilding. It is commonly believed that MCTs cannot be deposited into fat cells, but research has shown this to be incorrect. Although MCTs are rapidly available to the bloodstream, they don't give an athlete more strength, size, speed, or endurance. MCTs are pretty much just fat calories, so we don't recommend them.

Monounsaturated fats. These are the most benign of fats in that they don't affect your cholesterol or prostaglandins (regulators of hormone action) like some of the polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil and macadamia nuts.

Fatty acid supplements. Various supplements in health food stores contain essential fatty acids derived from fish oils and other sources.

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