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Most of us have heard that Omega 3 fatty acids are important to include in our diets. Omega 3s are generally associated with heart health benefits, and they are also helpful in increasing HDL cholesterol, decreasing cancer, and improving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. What you may not know that Omega 3s have weight loss and muscle recovery benefits, too! Unfortunately, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough Omega 3s in your diet.
84% of Americans don’t get enough Omega 3s in their diets, and while Omega 3 supplements are readily available there is great variability in the quality of Omega 3 supplements. Many food manufacturers have started to fortify foods with Omega 3s – everything from cooking oils, to eggs and even cereals. However, generally speaking, they aren’t using the highest-quality, most readily absorbed Omega 3 supplements.
What are the best ways to reap the benefits of this important nutrient? How can we get more of it in our diets, and what kind of supplements are best?
IMPORTANCE OF OMEGA 3s FOR FITNESS
Omega 3s are an important supplement for anyone who exercises regularly, especially if they are interested in building lean, toned muscle. In addition to their heart health benefits, Omega 3s also help with faster metabolism and fat loss by increasing insulin sensitivity. They also help fight against inflammation by decreasing the amount of muscle breakdown that occurs during workouts, as well as helping with muscle recovery following workouts. Recent studies also show that Omega 3s can also help your body more effectively utilize dietary protein to boost muscle growth.
WHY OMEGA 3s ARE LACKING IN OUR DIETS
Part of what makes getting enough Omega 3s in our diet difficult is that our modern diets are too high in another fatty acid, Omega 6. Omega 6 fatty acids have health benefits as well, and can be found naturally in nuts and seeds. However, they are also widely used by the food industry in soybean, safflower, sunflower and corn oils, which are overabundant in the typical American diet. To get the benefits of Omega 3s, we need to consume Omega 6 to Omega 3 in a specific ratio – about 3 or 4 to 1. Most Americans actually get closer to 15 or more to 1. When the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio is that high, the Omega 6 competes against the Omega 3s and prevents us from receiving benefits from the Omega 3 acids. This struggle can cause heart problems and inflammation, which is why it’s so important to strike a balance.
FOOD SOURCES AND TYPES OF OMEGA 3s
The best sources of Omega 3s are fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna. These fish contain two types of Omega 3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). To get enough Omega 3s in your diet, you’d have to eat fish every single day. Plant sources of Omega 3s include salad greens canola oil, soybean oil, walnuts and flaxseed, but these contain a different type of Omega 3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). There are health benefits with all types of Omega 3s, but DHA and EPA appear to be more powerful than ALA, because ALA is more difficult for the body to use. Most fortified foods contain ALA, because the fish based DHA and EPA can impart a fishy odor that’s non-desirable for products like cooking oils and cereals.
RECOMMENDED OMEGA 3 SUPPLEMENT TYPES
Since not many people are able to eat fish every single day, a high grade fish oil supplement containing EPA and DHA is recommended to ensure you’re getting enough Omega 3s in your diet. Jeff Cavaliere, the creator of Athlean-XX for Women explains why using a high grade fish oil supplement is so important, and exactly how it works to help with weight loss and muscle recovery in this video (created for the men on Jeff’s Athlean-X for Men program).
Jeff’s father is a physician, and has been one of the leading proponents of Omega 3s for the past 30 years. He’s got his own brand of Omega 3 supplements that you can find here. Regardless of which Omega 3 supplement you choose, do ensure that you’re getting a quality, high-grade fish oil supplement to be sure you can reap the benefits of this important essential fatty acid.
At Athlean-XX for Women, we’re all about healthy nutrition because it helps us lose weight and have energy for our tough workouts! Our nutrition plan recommends combining proteins and slow-burning carbohydrates at every meal and snack to help keep you feeling full. In fact, the Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan is anything but a diet – we actually recommend you eat more – 5 – 6 times per day! This type of diet will help turn your metabolism into a fat burning machine – when combined with our killer 30 minute workouts. Yes, with Athlean-XX for Women, eat more, exercise shorter but harder and weigh less! Join us on Team Athlean to start your lifestyle makeover now!
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