The first point here is to understand that all fats are not created equal. If you are thinking of the fats that cause weight gain, you are probably referring to saturated fats. Saturated fats are commonly found in fatty meat, fried food and cheese, just to name a few. Saturated fats are the highest source of bad cholesterol and have many harmful effects on your health including an increased risk of heart disease, elevated blood cholesterol and weight gain. In the 90’s, popular opinion suggested that in order to shed pounds, one needed to follow a low fat diet. While this is somewhat true, one should not neglect the importance of essential fatty acids and their role in cardiovascular health and weight loss.
Essential fatty acids are often known as ‘Omega 3’s’, which refers to the three fatty acids that are essential to health promotion: docosahexaeonic acid (DHA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaeonic acid (EPA). Essential fatty acids can be found naturally in foods including walnuts, flaxseeds, organic eggs, grass fed chicken, beef and lamb, some fruits and vegetables, and cold water fish (including tuna, salmon, sardines and anchovies). Since the most complete source of the three essential fatty acids is fish, and since most North Americans do not eat fish everyday, many people choose to supplement their diet with a fish oil supplement that provides a superior content of Omega 3 fatty acids.
So what is so magical about these fabulous fats? Here are some of the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids:
Now, when it comes to fat loss, essential fatty acids can also play an important role. A study published by the International Journal of Obesity showed the correlation between fish oil and fat loss. The study showed that when a group of people took at least 1.8 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids daily, they burned 25% more fat than the placebo group who did not take any Omega 3. The researchers also studied the subject’s insulin levels during the project and showed that the test subjects taking the Omega 3 had lower insulin levels than the placebo group. High levels of insulin in the body make it difficult for your body to use stored fat for fuel therefore, lowering your insulin levels by taking Omega 3’s will aid in fat metabolism (source: International Journal of Obesity 32, 1105-1112, 20 May 2008).
I recommend enjoying fish at least twice a week and supplementing with a high quality fish oil supplement that provides at least 2,000mg of Omega 3 fatty acids. And make sure that your Omega 3 supplement contains high concentrations of DHA and EPA. Just 2 gel caps of Full-Mega daily with a meal will keep your fully covered on Omega-3’s. Not required, but I also personally recommend keeping your fish oil in the refrigerator and always use a reputable brand that ensures the product is mercury free.