Many forms of fat are “healthy.” Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammation and benefit circulatory system health. Omega 6 fatty acids are actually “inflammatory” fatty acids, which work to increase the pro-inflammatory leukotriene, LTB4. LTB4 augments the production of interleukin 1, which is called the endogenous pyrogen, and establishes the temperature set point of the body. An increase in the temperature set point will cause a subsequent increase in the metabolic rate.
The types of omega 6 fatty acids are linoleic acid, eicosadienoic acid, dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, arachidonic acid, adrenic acid, docosapentaenoic acid, calendic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid. In this article, we will focus on the latter, gamma-linolenic acid.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an essential fatty acid (EFA) in the omega-6 family that is found primarily in plant-based oils. EFAs must be obtained from food because they can’t be formed by the body in the way that nonessential fatty acids are. They are needed for normal brain function, growth and development, and bone health. They also stimulate skin and hair growth, regulate metabolism, and maintain the body’s reproductive processes.
Those who are overweight have an under-active fat known as brown adipose tissue (BAT). BAT is a type of fatty acid found in hibernating animals, and its primary purpose is to generate body heat. The method by which it does this is called metabolic uncoupling. It causes an uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation by carrying protons into the mitochondria across the cell membrane. Oxidative phosphorylation is a very potent method of storing energy that is much more effective than any other method in the body. When the proton enters the mitochondria, it changes the pH levels inside the mitochondria causing it to release its energy as heat instead of usable adenosine 5’-triphosphate (ATP).
GLA’s method of action in the body is quite unique because it has the potential to actually burn fat in the body. Its action on BAT is potentially its most exciting method of energy usage. It activates BAT, and in turn, burns calories. GLA also activates the ATPase metabolic process, commonly referred to as the “sodium pump,” and stimulates it to use up nearly 50 percent of the body’s total calories. Some studies have shown a relationship between obesity and low levels of GLA in the body. Indirectly, GLA also has the potential to raise serotonin levels, which can reduce appetite.
Another type of metabolic uncoupler is the highly effective and highly dangerous 2,4 dinitrophenol, known on the “street” as DNP. Knowing that a legal, nonlethal, and readily available DNP type product is available should have all of us salivating at the mouth...and highly interested in this exciting method of fat burning where we are actually using fat to burn fat.
Now, all of this information is essentially useless if you don’t know where to find concentrated forms of GLA. Lucky for us, GLA is found in many fatty acid products that are available at any nutrition store. Two fat sources in particular—evening primrose oil and borage oil—both contain high levels of GLA. Of the two, borage oil is more potent.
I recommend adding a small dosage of borage oil (1–3 g) to each meal on low and medium carbohydrate days to our clients. This borage oil is added to a mixture of essential fatty acids that we use to provide as much metabolic and health-boosting nutrients as possible during contest preparations and other times of body fat loss.