EFAs: Essential for Muscle Growth and Fat Loss

This article is a knowledge bank on how essential fatty acids do the background work for optimal muscle growth and fat loss in human body. While protein is the front runner, EFAs of different kind boost the healthy growth of cells in body intrinsically. The article states types, quantity, supplementation and role of EFAs to guide you towards right management of weight and muscles.

EFAs are omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids – two families. These fats are considered essential since they cannot be synthesized by the body. Omega 9 fatty acids are necessary but are considered ‘non-essential’ because the body can manufacture modest amounts of them provided there are enough EFAs present.

The ideal ratio is between 4:1 and 3:1 of Omega-6 to Omega-3. The average person has an intake of somewhere between 10:1 to 25:1 which is tipping-off balance. Even serious lifters tend to have largely skewed ratio of omega fatty acids. This will not only slow down growth, repair, and fat loss immensely, but also lead to a number of health problems.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

  • Alpha Linolenic Acid (LNA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

Although all 3 types of Omega Acids are important, LNA can be converted in to both EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are required by the body but ingesting LNA will ensure the job is done.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

  • Linoleic Acid (LA)
  • Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA)
  • Dihomogamma Linoleic Acid (DLA)
  • Arachidonic Acid (AA)

Like LNA can be converted into other Omega 3 Acids, LA can also be converted into other Omega 6 Acids.

EFAs: Fat Loss and Muscle Growth Goals

Let us understand how EFAs help body reach optimum muscle growth and fat loss goals. They actually work through a number of different pathways to help build muscle. One way that EFAs lend a hand in the muscle growth process is through their process in the formation of eicosanoids. LNA and LA are metabolized into eicosanoids. They can be further classified into leukotrienes, prostaglandins and thromboxanes.

Although leukotrienes, prostaglandins and thromboxanes all serve important processes within the body, prostaglandins are of particular importance to bodybuilders. This is because prostaglandins serve to:

  • Elevate growth hormone secretion
  • Increase muscle cell protein synthesis
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Help maintain proper testosterone levels

Each one of these functions will directly lead to enhanced muscle growth for had training fitness and bodybuilding athletes.

EFAs will not only help in the process of muscle growth. They will have an impact on fat formation and metabolism. LNA, EPA and DHA have all been shown to increase lipolysis (body fat breakdown) and decrease lipogenesis (body fat formation). This combination of less fat being formed and more fat being utilized for energy will lead to a very beneficial effect on body composition.

These benefits are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full health and bodybuilding effects that EFAs can have. Along with the above EFAs have the following benefits and functions.

  • Decrease inflammation
  • Strengthen immune system
  • Enhance stamina
  • Speed recovery and healing of injuries
  • Allow more frequent training without symptoms of over training
  • Lower high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Improve sleep and concentration
  • Treat arthritis
  • Improve skin conditions
  • Diffusion of oxygen into the bloodstream
  • Improve cardiovascular function
  • Enhance absorption of fat soluble vitamins

EFAs, hence, simply cannot be ignored. Having an EFA deficiency will not only lead to a whole host of health problems but will severely interfere and short change muscle growth and fat loss.

EFAs: Amounts

The officially acceptable intake of Omega-3 is currently set at 1.6 grams per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women. Research suggests that a higher intake can be beneficial. Here are the recommended intakes to promote optimal muscle growth, fat loss and health.

Omega-3

  • Men: 3-3.5 grams per day from all sources
  • Women: 2.5 – 3 grams per day from all sources

Omega-6

  • Men: 9-14 grams per day from all sources
  • Women: 7.5 -12 grams per day from all sources

Best Sources of EFAs

EFAs can be ingested from food or in supplement form. Either way works well but one thing to keep in mind is that most foods are high in Omega-6 but low in Omega-3. For this reason, many find it useful to use a supplement. Here are the best sources of essential fatty acids:

Omega-3

  • Fish Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Walnuts
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Avocados
  • Some dark leafy vegetables like Kale, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Collards, etc.
  • Canola Oil
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Whole Eggs
  • Omega-6
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Pistachio Nuts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Olive Oil, Olives
  • Borage Oil
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Chestnut Oil

How to choose an EFA supplement?

EFA supplements are not only useful to make sure daily requirements of essential fatty acids at met but also make it easy to make sure intake of omega-6’s do not become out of proportion with omega-3’s. Fot this reason, it is wise to look for a supplement that contains a 3:1 ratio or higher of omega-3 to omega-6.

Fish oil, flaxseed oil, and EFA blends al make great choices for supplements. They will come in both capsule and oil form. There are pros and cons to both. Capsules are far more convenient than oil and do not have the taste that many people do not like. Oils on the other hand offer the benefit of being a bit more cost effective and can be mixed with things such as protein shakes or oatmeal. The important thing is to find what would work best for your lifestyle and personal preference.

Wrap Up

Talking about muscle growth, protein rules the roost and will always be the super ruler of the kingdom by gathering all the attention, but now you know that fats play a vital role in the process of muscle growth and fat loss. So while protein works in the spotlight, EFAs will go to work behind the scenes. You work too hard training and following your diet to have all your efforts thwarted simply because you failed to take in enough healthy fats. So take your fish oils, eat your almonds, and drink you flax oil because this will put you in the best of your health and shape towards a fit and crafted body you always aimed at.

References

  1. http://www.paper.edu.cn/scholar/showpdf/MUT2MNyINTj0kx2h
  2. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/54/3/438/4694393
  3. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article-abstract/77/3/381/4779387
  4. Maximum Muscle, Minimum Fat: The Secret Science Behind Physical Transformation byOriHofmekler

About The Author

Rajul Tiwari

Rajul Tiwari is the Editor-in-Chief at bodyandstrenth.com and has 18 years of experience in media, content, publishing and education. She has worked with media houses like Daini.... Read More..

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