Updated: Oct 16
Original post: September 12, 2010
Optimizing Fitness and Health with Fatty Acids
The most common deficiency when it comes to fitness goals is not lack of protein; it’s insufficient fatty acid intake. Yeah, I know fatty acid supplementation is catching on but let me tell you, 1000, 2000 or even 4000 mg per day is not enough to make a difference. And any old type or ratio won’t cut it either. When you’re focussed on ridding yourself of that extra fat baggage and building or maintaining healthy lean muscle, the last thing on your mind is supplementing with fat-calories; especially five to ten grams of fat each day! However, let me tell you that every gram of that muscle building protein depends on the right dietary fat ratio from the time this protein is absorbed to the time it is converted to muscle and other essential tissues.
The right polyunsaturated fat supplement wedded to the right protein supplement will make a surprisingly huge difference in your metabolism and progress. It will also set eh stage for timely aging reducing the risk for premature aging. Research has shown that DHA deficiency can result in hypothalamic insufficiency and supplementation with the fat can help overcome the problem. The hypothalamus carries a sort of feedback and regulatory circuitry that allows us to interpret signals for hunger and thirst. It’s also involved in thermoregulation – body heat control and fat management. The hypothalamus is where that fat regulation hormone, leptin, delivers its signal for calorie management. Leptin resistance is now determined to be a common cause of obesity.
In other words, neurological resistance or compromise of the hypothalamus results in poor appetite control, insufficient thermogenic regulation and subpar energy and body fat management. Thermogenesis is our naturally in-built fat management system where excess fat calories are spontaneously used to help keep the body warm.
Supplementation with DHA and EPA (marine fatsm) helps keep the thermogenic machine active and in tune while supporting mental fortitude. Your fight against unreasonable hunger pangs and cravings are more manageable if you eat the right fats. In addition, your mental drive to follow through is improved if the diet supplies the right fats.
Research demonstrates that most of us are driven by emotionally crafted wiring of the brain to feed unnecessarily. This emotional eating phenomenon drives us mindlessly to the feeding trough to eat foods that deliver a neurochemical numbing. It’s not much different from numbing that street drugs and alcohol deliver except that this food influence is so mild that it’s not usually consciously noticeable. If we allow ourselves to eat and live life through these autopilot (subconscious) programs, the calorie count results in adipose fat accumulation and more hard work in the gym. The key to overcoming this and the other fat factors is in staying conscious and circumventing the mindless habits. However, lack of brain fuel and neurological building blocks wedded to overtraining and oxidation degrades the mental strength needed to stay consciously diligent with the goal.
The brain relies immensely on the Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) for optimal function and as fat intake declines, DHA status can be severely impaired. In this limited state, serotonin efficiency declines, dopamine potential is compromised, and consequential deterioration of emotional integrity prevents you from consciously curbing the emotion-driven tendency to eat outside the guidelines that lead to your goal. In other words, if polyunsaturated fat status in the diet and the cells of the body is compromised you can become less consciously driven and more emotionally driven and your habits take over instead of your intellectual guidance.
Polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation is crucial to the fitness initiative but the common seed oil supplements just cannot do the job on their own. In addition, most fish oils are offered in triglyceride form and in low polyunsaturated fat concentrations (DHA + EPA) around 30% of the total capsule weight. In this subpar concentration one might need 10 -15 pills per day, the most of which is saturated and fats other than the beneficial polyunsaturated (PUFAs).
If the diet is not supplying the right ratio of fats in conjunction with a protein supplement that supports lean muscle construction (anabolism) inflammatory hormones are poorly managed in the body. In this pro-inflammatory state muscle tone and building are harder to achieve, fat loss is more difficult and general health is more difficult to attain. Research also shows that these inflammatory prostaglandin hormones (PGE2) are inhibitive of spontaneous thermogenesis (the natural fat-burning system most gym-goers know about). This is one reason for the acetyl salicylic acid (ASA) inclusion in that fat busting pharmaceutical trio – ephedrine, caffeine and Aspirin. However, poor diet and poor lifestyle are ultimately contributors to this pro-inflammatory state to begin with. Mild changes through the described supplementation help alleviate the need for fat busting strategies that might also present health risks. This allows inbuilt health and body fat management systems to work with you toward your goal – health and fitness.
Let’s talk about the not so commonly discussed role of protein and how it must accompany the fatty acid It goes without saying that dietary protein plays an immense role in the fitness program. This role, however, includes metabolic influences that are far deeper than the basic amino acid building blocks. Different sources of protein provide formidably different metabolic influences some of which factor intimately into fat management and lean muscle anabolism. Protein is not protein.
Don’t let anyone cloud your thinking with protein efficiency ratios (PER), gross protein value (GPV), amino acid scores (AAS) or other forms of protein evaluation. Biological value (BV) is the true measure for protein quality actually measuring the amount of protein (based on nitrogen) retained in the tissues. It doesn’t matter how one dances around the amino acid profile, branched chain amino acid score, protein content, glycomacropeptide content, and even the weight gained, the ultimate measure worth anything is how much of the quality protein you consumed was successfully retained (and not excreted) and converted into lean tissue.
The protein source that scores highest time and time again, when it comes to BV, is whey. Depending on how well a whey protein is processed it can retain a biological value of 90 – 159. Most of the whey proteins on the retail shelves today are at the bottom end of that range but this is still a good measure since chicken has a biological value of about 79- 80, beef 81, fish 80 and whole egg 100. The value that a good quality whey protein, such as a cold cross flow isolate, brings to the table deserves to be presented as a stand-alone article.
However, the rarely discussed value I want to impart in this discussion relates to a less discussed benefit of the properly processed undenatured whey – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory value. One of the most effective ways to escalate glutathione peroxidase levels in the body is through whey protein supplementation. Glutathione is a formidable antioxidant involved throughout the body in detoxification and neutralization of oxidation. The liver and immune system rely immensely on this specialized antioxidant. If you are a molecule short of the antioxidant the liver’s potential to filter and detoxify and the immune system’s ‘search and destroy’ against invading pathogens is compromised.
The interesting paradox we all face when we workout to improve fitness and reduce the risk for disease is that the actual physical work produces oxidation. The body is supposed to neutralize this oxidation to eliminate the risk of uncontrolled oxidation. However, as you know we are all faced with different multiple sources of oxidation all of which compound to often overwhelm our immune and other restorative and maintenance systems. These include food-borne, environmental, social stress, and others. In addition, the more calories we consume the more likely it is that free radicals (oxidation) are produced as a by-product of the food (calorie) processing by our cells. This presents two points. One is that we must supply and abundant amount of protein that is saturated with glutathione precursors so that glutathione can be manufactured abundantly by our cells. If muscle building and fat management are desired 2.0 – 3.0 grams per kilogram of protein per day is needed. The other point is that we must supply this protein load with the lowest calorie tax to avoid adding extra calorie burden on the body while we meet this antioxidant demand. The protein must be high in quality to avoid ammonia accumulation in the body. Whey isolate fits these criteria perfectly.
Supplementing your daily food intake of protein with a cold cross flow whey isolate provides the quality building blocks for lean muscle and the precious glutathione antioxidant in a form that is void of unnecessary free radical-producing fat and carbohydrate calories. The whey isolate supplement helps us meet the overall protein and antioxidant demands without the calorie consequence.
Both elevated uncontrolled oxidation and the imbalanced Omega-fatty acid status can additively promote inflammation. These Omega-6 fats, for example, are precursors for inflammatory hormones but they can only be harmful if they are converted by a trigger into the hormone that actually causes the inflammation. The trigger is oxidation. When we combine poor dietary intake of the Omega-fats with the elevated and uncontrolled oxidation that regular training (especially extreme exercise) causes we convert the inflammatory potential of the Omega-6 fats into the harmful or intrusive inflammation. This increases the risk for disease and interferes with the natural fat management system in our thermogenic cells. In a sense, your harder work literally begins to work a bit against itself. Instead, work smarter and healthier. These fats also help with protein assimilation when taken together. The fatty acids and the protein form what are called micelles (fat and protein complexes) in the gut and blood which facilitate transport of the protein and fat to the tissues in need. Choose a high BV protein that delivers an amino acid and protein macrofraction profile that are conducive to anabolic drive and antioxidant health. Combine this with the polyunsaturated fatty acid blend that helps neutralize inflammation, removes inhibition of thermogensis, supports brain and cardiovascular health, and facilitates transport of the needed protein. Results begin to appear spontaneously!
For best results consume two servings per day to top up protein and PUFA needs: Serving ONE: One serving of cold cross flow whey protein isolate before the workout with 2-4 grams of the polyunsaturated fatty acid recommendation (50/50 flaxseed/marine oils). Marine oils can be found in DHA & EPA concentrations that exceed 30%. (as high as 90%) A higher PUFA concentration results in lower calories to meet the demand. Strive to consume about 4000 mg of the polyunsaturated fat (EPA and / or DHA) per day. Read the labels to determine what dose is needed to achieve this. Serving TWO: Another serving of cold cross flow whey protein isolate after the workout or 90-120 minutes after the first serving (whichever comes later) with an additional 2-4 grams of the polyunsaturated fatty acid recommendation. ( 50/50 flaxseed/marine oils).
Choose a diet that fits with your lifestyle and goal and don’t eat food after 8:00 pm in the evening. If more nutrition is absolutely required after this food curfew, consume a deliciously flavoured protein drink mixed in water. This strategy will set the foundation for the additional benefits and tips we’ll discuss in the next article.
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