BY TOM VENUTO
Writing a series of lessons on “sure things” for fat loss is
not as easy as you’d think. There are so many opinions about
the “right way” to eat for getting leaner, that getting all the
experts to agree on anything occurs about as often as Haley’s
comet flies by.
Even the subject of dietary fat is hugely controversial. Just
mention “saturated fat is bad for you” in a nutrition forum
these days and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
But when it comes to one particular type of fat, the vote is
virtually unanimous: Omega-3 fatty acids are sure things for
your health. Even better: Scientists are beginning to uncover
the important roles they play in the fat burning process as well.
Omega-3 fatty acids are labeled “essential” because your body
can’t manufacture them, so you must get them from the food
you eat (much like certain amino acids, vitamins and minerals).
Omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from plant or animal sources.
The richest animal source of omega-3 is fatty fish such as salmon,
mackerel, albacore tuna, rainbow trout, sardines or herring.
The fat in fish contains two important long-chain polyunsaturated
omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic
acid (DHA). These appear to be the major players responsible for
the biological activity in fish oil that produces the long list
The richest plant sources of omega-3 fats are flaxseeds or flaxseed
oil. Flaxseed contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which your
body can convert into DHA and EPA.
The list of potential health benefits from eating these “good fats”
is so long, that if you couldn’t look up the scientific references
to confirm them for yourself, you would swear I was just pulling
Peer-reviewed research has been published on fish oil and omega-3 fats
for the treatment, management or prevention of ALL these conditions:
cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, high blood
pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, inflammatory diseases, joint pain,
arthritis, osteoporosis, kidney disease, prostate cancer, colon
cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, crohn’s disease, ulcerative
colitis, Alzheimer’s, asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, sickle cell anemia, glaucoma, lupus, multiple
sclerosis, fibromyalgia, cirrhosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue
syndrome, menstrual symptoms, psoriasis, diabetes, insulin resistance,
migraines, response to stress, bipolar disorder, depression, psychological
disorders, and metabolic syndrome.
Okay, so omega 3 fats are healthy stuff, we can all agree on that!
Here’s why I also suggest that omega-3 fats should be added to the
list of “sure things for fat loss”:
At least a half a dozen human studies and more than two dozen animal
studies in the last 10 years suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids
found in fish may help you burn more fat or at the very least that
they play an important role in the fat burning process, or that
a deficiency could inhibit fat burning.
Some studies found that omega 3 fats may function as fuel partitioners
and increase fat oxidation. This means that omega-3’s shift glucose
toward glycogen storage and direct fatty acids away from body fat
formation and toward fatty acid oxidation.
Omega-3 fatty acids also enhance the expression of the Uncoupling
protein 3 (UCP3) gene in skeletal muscle. Scientists say that this
may indirectly increase energy expenditure by dissipating calories
Other potential mechanisms include increased sensitivity to the
“anti starvation hormone” leptin, decreased insulin, reduced
fat cell proliferation and improved cell membrane fluidity.
It’s an exciting area of research and a highly publicized one as well.
If you pay attention to the news or read any fitness or nutrition
literature, you probably already know about the benefits of omega-3
fats – it’s no secret anymore.
What’s shocking is the fact that most people are still deficient
in omega-3 fats, according to the latest statistics.
As with that other “super food” – vegetables – most people seem
to know that they “should” be eating more healthy fats, but they
still don’t do it.
This gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it is a
real problem, when it’s so easy to take advantage of the benefits
of this incredible “power nutrient.”
Here are 7 tips that can accommodate both vegetarians and
fish eaters alike:
1) eat fatty fish at least twice per week and even daily
if practical and economical for you. If not, you could
supplement with fish oil (2-3 grams of combined DHA/EPA daily)
2) Omega 6 fatty acids are also essential, but most people
have an unbalanced omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. This can be
remedied by increasing the omega 3 consumption and or
reducing the omega 6 consumption (by decreasing intake of
processed foods, refined grains, and supermarket cooking
oils, with the exception of extra virgin olive oil)
3) grind up flaxseeds and sprinkle them on salads or add
them to oatmeal, protein shakes or morning cereals. Alternately,
supplement with flaxseed oil; 1 tbsp is equivalent to 3 tbsp
flaxseeds (use as a supplement; Not for cooking)
4) snack on walnuts, which contain modest amounts of omega 3 fats
5) increase your consumption of leafy greens which
contain small amounts of omega 3 fats.
6) if you eat red meat, try game meats or grass fed
beef or bison. they dont have nearly the quantity
of omega-3 as marine sources, but they are higher in
omega-3 and have a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio
than conventionally raised and fed beef.
7) Try omega-3 fortified eggs instead of regular eggs.
See how easy it is to get more omega-3?
With all the health benefits stacked on top of the potential
fat loss benefits, you simply can’t go wrong by making this
one change to your diet program – it’s a sure thing!
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