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Muscle Building Nutrition - Fat
Athletes should aim to limit fat to 15-30% of total calories although, in practice, most strength trainers achieve an intake of around 20% in an effort to maintain low body-fat levels. Be careful not to drop your fat intake too low or you will almost certainly miss out on certain vitamins - such as vitamin E - and a vital subgroup of fats called the 'essential fatty acids'. Eating them in the right quantities could even boost your performance in the gym.
What are essential fats?
The two essential fatty acids - linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid - are vital to your health and cannot be made in the body. When you eat linoleic acid, your body converts it into a number of other fatty acids, including gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and docosapentanoic acid (DPA). Linoleic acid and its derivative fatty acids are called omega-6 fatty acids (there is a rigid link, or 'double bond', on the sixth carbon atom in the fatty acid chain). When you eat alpha-linolenic acid, your body converts it into eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaoic acid (DHA), and these are called omega-3 fatty acids (the rigid link occurs on the third carbon atom).
Both omega-6 (from most vegetable oils and margarines) and omega-3 (from oily fish and certain nuts and seeds) fatty acids are essential for good health. They are involved in cell membrane structure, especially in the retina of the eye, the brain and the heart, and the body also uses them to produce a group of hormone-like substances called 'eicosanoids'. These regulate many processes in the body such as the inflammatory and immune responses. Many experts believe that it is the wrong ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s that contributes to many health problems, such as heart disease, inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis and pain, even slow post-workout recovery. In other words, a high omega-6 intake and low omega-3 intake causes your body to make too many eicosanoids promoting inflammation and pain.
For optimal health and performance therefore need to consume them in the right proportions - roughly five times more omega6s than omega-3s. That means you should consume 1 g of omega-3s for every 1-5 g of omega-6s each day. Most people consume far more omega-6s than omega-3s.
How can omega-3s help strength trainers?
Omega-3s can also benefit your cardio workouts. Eating more omega-3s enhances aerobic metabolism, which means increased endurance and fat burning. Oxygen delivery to your cells is improved because omega-3s reduce blood viscosity and make red cell membranes more flexible. So, your cardio workouts will be more effective.
How can I get the right amount of omega-3s?
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