Even though fats get a bad rap, the right types of fats are essential for your body to perform optimally and support optimal health. Healthy fats also help you feel satiated, meaning you’ll have less cravings. Having sufficient fat in your diet is important because it helps you feel fuller longer, and it’s an essential source of energy that your body uses for general functioning. It’s also important because fat is a key source of vitamins like A, D, E, and K as well as essential fatty acids (EFAs).
What are Essential Fatty Acids?
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are fats that your body can’t produce on its own. You must consume them through your diet. EFAs are crucial for healthy growth, development, and function of cells. They have many benefits for your heart and brain health, joint health, hormone balance, and more. There are two main types of EFAs. About 41% of the fat in your diet should be saturated fats. Eating too much saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, so aim to get most of your fat from unsaturated sources. About 15% of your fat intake should come from polyunsaturated fats, which include both omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats are considered inflammatory, while omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory. An ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 4:1 or lower, which means we should be getting about 2–3 times more omega-3s than omega-6s.
How do EFAs Benefit your Body?
EFAs are essential for growth and development. They are important for the health of your joints, skin, hair, and nails. They also help regulate hormones and reduce inflammation. Research suggests that omega-3s may be helpful for treating a variety of conditions, including depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder. Some studies also suggest that omega-3s may help prevent certain types of cancers, and they may improve cognitive function and help with weight loss. Other important benefits of EFAs include, eating more unsaturated fats, like those found in fish, may lower your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides blood fats. Healthy fats may help protect against cognitive decline and reduce the risk of certain neurological diseases. Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fats may help protect against joint pain and stiffness. Hormones are chemical messengers in your body that help regulate many processes, including the growth and development of your body. Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fats may help reduce hormone- related conditions, such as PMS, acne, and excess facial hair.
Which Fats Should you Eat to Build Muscle?
Some fats are better for your health than others. Aim to get most of your fat from sources of unsaturated fat. This includes monounsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados and nuts, and polyunsaturated fats, like those found in fish and other seafood, seeds, and nuts. While some saturated fats are also considered healthy, they should make up only a small percentage of your total daily caloric intake. To build muscle, you need protein, but you also need healthy fats to help your body properly absorb protein, as well as to keep your body feeling full and satisfied. Healthy fats also provide essential vitamins and minerals, like vitamin E and magnesium, which are important for muscle maintenance and repair.
The Problem with Most Dietary Fats
While some types of dietary fat are essential for good health, others may actually increase your risk of several diseases and negatively impact your health. Sources of unhealthy fats include, animal fats, such as those found in meat and dairy products, are high in saturated fats and have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Trans fats are man-made fats that have been linked to many serious health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. They are often found in processed foods like cookies, crackers, chips, and some packaged baked goods. While omega-6 fats are essential, we get too many of them in our modern diet because they are found in many processed foods. Consuming too many omega-6 fats has been shown to be associated with many of the same diseases as trans fats.
Good Fats for Building Muscle
Certain fats are essential for good health and building muscle. They include monounsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados and nuts, and polyunsaturated fats, like those found in fish, seeds, and nuts. You should also regularly eat foods rich in omega-3 fats, such as salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Keep in mind that not all fats are created equal. Healthy fats are found in foods like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, salmon, nuts, seeds and soybeans. They’re often listed as “good fats” on nutritional labels. Other so-called “bad fats” are often listed as “saturated fats” on nutritional labels and can be found in many processed foods, including cookies, chips, crackers, and packaged baked goods.
Eating a diet rich in healthy fats will help you build muscle and maintain optimal health. Getting your daily intake of essential fatty acids is crucial, but it can be difficult to meet your daily requirements if you’re not eating enough dietary fats. Fortunately, many high-protein foods contain healthy fats, so you don’t have to go overboard with fatty foods to meet your daily fat requirements.