EFAs or Essential Fatty Acids are fatty acids that the body cannot produce and human beings have to ingest because the body requires them for good health. Essential Fatty Acids refer to those fatty acids that are important for the body’s biological processes such as the optimal functioning of organs and glands as well as restoring the optimal cell membrane operation and tissue restoration.
While fat has a bad reputation considering that both trans- and saturated fats lead to obesity, clogged arteries, diabetes, high blood pressure etc, the nutritional benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are abundant and well documented. This essential, power-packed nutrient can equally affect fitness levels. Below are 4 ways how:
1) Boost Muscle Building
Muscle cells are like sponges and absorb all the macro- and micronutrients from whole food sources and supplementation. Omega 3, when absorbed into the membranes of muscle cells, helps the body moderate insulin sensitivity and also increase integrity of muscle fibers which can aid hypertrophy training efforts. This helps for increases in size and strength. Another useful EFA is Omega 6 which when taken in proper dosages, they are the body’s primary regulators for muscle growth and development as well as muscle reflexes.
2) Increase Metabolism
Thermogenesis is the process which keeps the body’s metabolism in an elevated state, helping to utilize the body’s fat reserves for energy. Omega 3s are readily converted into prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance that promotes thermogenesis. This helps the body’s fat burning enzymes active, while suppressing the enzymes that promote fat storage, an essential ingredient for muscle building. Linoleic acid, an omega 6, works with the omega 3s to not only regulate metabolism, but also to increase the body’s stamina by being a primary player in transporting oxygen from red blood cells to the body’s various tissues.
3) Reduce Inflammation
The prostaglandins also help reduce joint pain, muscle soreness and inflammation. Together with omega 6s, which play a vital role in bone health by helping the body absorb more calcium, these fatty acids can help ward off osteoporosis and other bone related injuries. This means a higher intensity during workouts and reduced recovery time. In addition, omega 3s also help regulate the hormone cortisol, which is released when the body experiences stress. Excess Cortisol production can weaken the immune system, break down lean muscle mass and also promote fat storage, specifically in the belly. All these side effects will definitely derail any muscle building endeavours.
4) Maintain Motivation
Omega 3s can help with several mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression. Depression can affect physical and emotional energy levels, resulting in a loss of focus and motivation for exercise. By consuming enough fatty acids through the omega 3 and omega 6 families, they can help ward off these mood disorders and keep emotional and physical health in check. A positive mental environment is also essential for maintaining motivation, inspiration and focus on one’s muscle building goals.