Do you want to sound smart at the water cooler in your office? Well, let me save you the 500-page read of the famous book, “Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill.” Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll learn how incredibly important it is to get these fats and how the deficiencies listed may apply to you. From the medical office to the gym, find out how many athletes have been missing out on probably the best kept secret to success.

Over the short years since high school, I’ve learned in many different institutions and environments and every time I came away confused. So I found it easiest to break everything down and create a visual reference. The following is intended to give you a base for all things fat related.

We all know that fats are an energy source within the body. This is true for both humans and animals. For example, it’s essential for bears to store fat and hibernate for the long winter. Hell, anyone who has watched the Yogi Bear cartoons knows that Yogi gets all jacked up on fats and commits theft throughout the camp sites. In all seriousness, it’s important to know that fats provide a source of energy for all of the bodily processes, serving as a transportation and absorption means for fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K.

Fats consist of saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature; unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature; and essential fatty acids. They can all be simplified like this:

Saturated fats: These can be found in red meat, butter, sour cream, and many oils including coconut oil. Any book that you pick up or any nutrition class that you attend will tell you that these are harmful and that you should stay away at all costs. These books and classes say that these fats cause obesity, heart problems, and breast and colon cancers. However, in the real world, understand that they provide protection for your organs and joints.

Monosaturated fats: These fats are vital for muscle building and body fat reduction. Olive oil is the best source of this fat. The benefits are endless.

Polyunsaturated fats: These fats are liquid at room temperature and are used for multiple metabolic processes including cell wall construction, which is vital for muscle mass acquisition. Sources include flax seed oil, canola oil, corn oil, and cod liver oil.

*Hydrogenated fats: If you want to die early and fail at every single goal of yours, consume this. Never touch this stuff! Hydrogenated forms happen when essential fatty acids are changed chemically. These oils have a high melting point, which means that they are used in almost every fried food as well as in pastries.

*Why is this important? Consumption of these oils has shown to increase LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol), which results in higher triglycerides and lower testosterone production.

The path to gaining muscle and losing body fat has to have the consumption of fats as a vital component in a nutritional protocol. The endocrine system is the portal to fat loss, fat gain, and muscle acquisition. One of the most anabolic substances in your body is insulin. There are a tremendous amount of articles written on the role of insulin, but it’s very important to understand the nutrient timing of fats. Using the appropriate dosages of essential fatty acids (EFA) will help to balance insulin.

Check this out:

  • A good or bad breakfast will positively or negatively affect your system for 12 hours.
  • A good or bad lunch will positively or negatively affect your system for six hours.
  • A good or bad dinner will positively or negatively affect your system for four hours.

It’s called the “first meal frequency,” and it’s important. In later articles, I’ll provide the optimal breakfast foods that will stabilize your blood sugar, throw your body into an anabolic state, and start your day off with a clear path for success.

EFA are fatty acids that a human being can’t produce or construct within the body and can only be absorbed by nutritional means. There are basically three EFA—linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and arachidonic acid. Linoleic acid is without a doubt the most vital. The other two—linolenic acid and arachidonic acid—can only be converted from linoleic.

Here are some of the numerous vital functions of EFA:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps to eradicate plaque from the walls of arteries
  • Lowers triglyceride levels
  • Helps with those suffering from arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, and other inflammation ailments by altering the production of leukotrienes, which spark inflammation
  • Work with cholesterol and protein to repair old cell membranes and create new ones
  • Helps blood to manufacture hemoglobin, thus providing oxygen to the cells of the lungs.
  • Assists in the manufacturing of cholesterol (Even though cholesterol has gotten a bad rap in the past, it’s responsible for many functions within the body and works with the blood, brain tissue, liver, kidneys, and adrenal and reproductive glands. It helps the body to transport fatty acids and absorb Vitamin D.)
  • Prevents growth of bacteria and viruses
  • Increases the rate at which the body burns fat
  • Acts as precursors to the production of hormone like substances called prostaglandins, which are found in almost any physiological process within the body
  • Prevents abnormal blood clotting and nerve inflammation

Not sold on incorporating EFS into your diet? Read on…

Below is a listing of some of the deficiencies of fatty acids, starting with the most important—linoleic acid.

Deficiency symptoms due to lack of linoleic acid

  • Acne
  • Arthritis
  • Changes in personality/behavior
  • Miscarriage
  • Gallbladder dysfunction
  • Poor growth
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Kidney problems
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Muscle tremors
  • Prostate inflammation
  • Skin disorders
  • Thirst due to excessive perspiration
  • Sterility in males

Deficiency symptoms due to lack of linolenic acid

  • Poor growth
  • Learning disability
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Poor vision

Here are cool facts:

  • Feed your brain—65–70 percent of your brain is fat!
  • Carbohydrate consumption for brain power and metabolic processes are over done and the research is out of date.
  • Very few people truly understand the role of cholesterol within the body. We all know that HDL is good cholesterol and LDL is bad cholesterol.
  • Ninety percent of the makeup of your hormones is cholesterol and the fat sources that are needed to function.

So, now that you have seen the symptoms, let’s talk about how to get these levels back to normal. People underestimate that power of fat. Whether it’s fatty acids, fish oils, or the sources of fat, everyone is missing the key to unlocking their potential.

Here are some musts:

  • You must use fish oils.
  • You must use conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
  • You must use gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
  • You must use olive oil.

Let me stop you once more before you rush out to stock up. These fats, especially fish oils and CLA, must be used in the right combinations and timing and dosages must be taken into consideration. One world renowned strength coach claims that 30 grams of fish oils must be supplemented in order to gain strength and mass while a world renowned medical doctor argues that 9–12 grams is plenty. Who should you believe?

Look at the dosages, concentrations, and sources such as whether they are pharmaceutical grade or not. The best form of EFA that I’ve seen is the alpha omega 3 capsules from the company, SST. These capsules have produced a great deal of success.

Here’s what they provide:

GLA: GLA is an EFA in the omega-6 family. It’s found primarily in plant-based oils. EFA are essential to human health but can’t be made in the body. For this reason, they must be obtained from food. EFA are needed for normal brain function, growth and development, bone health, stimulation of skin and hair growth, regulation of metabolism, and maintenance of reproductive processes.

CLA: CLA has been the subject of a variety of research in the past several years, and findings suggest that some of the other benefits of CLA include the following:

  • Increases metabolic rate. This would obviously be a positive benefit for thyroid patients, as hypothyroidism, even when treated, can reduce the metabolic rate in some people.
  • Decreases abdominal fat. Adrenal imbalances and hormonal shifts that are common in thyroid patients frequently cause rapid accumulation of abdominal fat so this benefit could be quite helpful.
  • Enhances muscle growth. Muscle burns fat, which also contributes to increased metabolism and is useful in weight loss and management.
  • Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Because many thyroid patients have elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, even with treatment, this benefit can have an impact on a thyroid patient’s health.
  • Lowers insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a risk for some hypothyroid patients, and lowering it can also help prevent adult-onset diabetes and make it easier to control weight.
  • Reduces food-induced allergic reactions. Because food allergies can be at play when weight loss becomes difficult, this can be of help to thyroid patients.
  • Enhances immune system. Because most cases of thyroid disease are autoimmune in nature, enhancing the immune system’s ability to function properly is a positive benefit.

Fish oils: Omega 3 oils have been called “the miracle food of the 21st century.” Research shows that the right kind can help prevent heart disease, maintain optimum blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and give almost immediate relief from joint pain, migraines, depression, autoimmune diseases, and many other conditions. By improving brain development and memory functioning from conception through old age, certain omega 3 oils also provide the perfect brain food.

Olive oil: Use an olive oil and omega 3 combination to lose weight and gain muscle. Stay away from high polyunsaturated fats like corn oil and other oils like safflower unless you’re trying to keep the correct polyunsaturated and saturated fat ratio or you have a health condition. We really need to thank the country of Italy for this. The positives of olive oil are endless.