ATHLETIC CONSULTING TRAINING REPORT - www.cbathletics.com
light of the terrible events in New York on September 11,
I would like to make everyone aware of the following websites:
"FAT! The Good, the Bad, and the Healthy"
- "Essential fatty acids: Flax & Fish!"
- "How much of the EFAs do I need?"
- "Nutritional tips for a healthy lifestyle"
- "Bodybuilding, Body composition, &
- "More health updates"
- DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN HEALTHY & UNHEALTHY FATS
ago, Americans were eating about 40% of their daily calories
from fat (with most of this coming from saturated fat).
Currently, the average American diet gets just under half
of all its fat as saturated fat and very little from polyunsaturated
fat. Unfortunately, this type of diet is considered to contribute
to obesity and heart disease. In the early 1990's it would
have been uncommon to hear the terms "health"
and "fat" used together. However, things have
changed. Research has found that replacing saturated fat
(such as that in red meat, cheese, and butter) with unsaturated
fat and essential fatty acids (such as those from fish and
flaxseed oil) can favorably impact health.
healthy fat is still a complicated issue. Current research
and opinion is controversial when it comes to prescribing
optimal levels of essential fatty acid (EFA) supplementation.
The message is getting out that people need certain fats,
but the question is still coming back, "How much?"
Regrettably, dietary fat can be an overwhelming topic (just
like dietary carbohydrate intake) because there are many
categories of fats.
fats include EFAs, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated
fats. Saturated fat should be limited and hydrogenated fats
should be eliminated from the diet. One important rule to
remember when discussing fats is, "Structure dictates
function". That means the microscopic structure of
the fat determines whether the fat is healthy or harmful.
Very minor changes in the structure of a fat may dictate
whether it inflicts damage or promotes healing.
getting too detailed, it is sufficient to know that the
structure of a fat contains a long chain of carbon atoms.
Each of the carbon atoms is attached to one another, and
2 hydrogen atoms can be attached to each carbon, as is the
case in a saturated fat. Imagine if you will, a row of chairs.
In each chair sits one person. That line of chairs is saturated,
just like a saturated fat.
a monounsaturated fat, one hydrogen atom is removed, thus
leaving an "empty seat" in the row of chairs.
At this empty seat, something called a double bond occurs
between the 2 carbons. This is analogous to one person taking
up two chairs in the row. In a polyunsaturated fat, there
are two and sometimes three double bonds. The result of
the change in structure is a change in function.
not only add taste and calories to food but also are vital
to your health because they are a component of cell membranes.
Our bodies are composed of millions upon millions of cells,
and thus without healthy fats to make healthy cell membranes,
disease could occur in any of your body's systems. This
review covers what is generally known about "healthy
fats" up to August 2001, so let's start with the worst
(the unhealthy fats) and finish with the healthy fats that
should be emphasized in your diet.
refers to a change in the structure of the fat. In this
case, food processing actually adds hydrogen atoms back
to unsaturated fat molecules (i.e. a person sits in one
of the empty chairs). Unfortunately, hydrogenation is done
to many otherwise healthy vegetable oils. These are the
worst cases of fats, and are called "trans-fatty acids".
Trans-fatty acids are made mainly in the process of turning
liquid oils into a solid fat (such as margarine).
experts consider margarine and trans-fatty acids as the
greatest evils of dietary fat. The Danish Nutrition Council
has recommended that the addition of all trans-fatty acids
to food should end by 2005 because a high intake of trans
fatty acids increases to the risk of coronary heart disease
(Stender and Dyerberg, 2001). Trans-fatty acids may damage
some of the body's system and may lead to increased risks
of heart disease and diabetes. Other experts suggest that
intake of hydrogenated fats may even increase the need for
EFAs! You can live without hydrogenated fats, but not without
that frequently consume French fries, microwave popcorn,
chocolate bars, and fast food likely consume trans-fatty
acids in amounts far exceeding the recommended maximum levels.
Margarine, shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable
oil also contain trans-fatty acids. FDA researchers believe
that removing all trans-fatty acids from margarine and other
foods could prevent 17000 heart attacks and 5000 deaths
per year! Unfortunately, with the abundance of these foods
in North America, many uneducated people are subject to
ill health until they learn to avoid fast food and processed
recent study suggested that trans-fatty acid intake increases
the risk of diabetes while polyunsaturated fatty acid intake
reduces the risk. The researchers estimated that replacing
all dietary trans-fatty acids with an equal amount of polyunsaturated
fat would lead to a 40% lower risk in diabetes for women
(Salmeron et al., 2001). Surprisingly, the study also showed
that total fat, saturated fat, and monounsaturated fatty
acid intakes are not associated with risk of type 2 diabetes.
J., et al. Dietary fat intake and risk of type 2 diabetes
in women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr.73:
S., and J. Dyerberg. The importance of trans-fatty acids
for health. Update 2001. Ugesker
Laeger 163: 2349-2359, 2001 (abstract only).
speaking, a saturated fat has as many hydrogen molecules
attached to them as is chemically possible. Saturated fats
are solid at room temperature (i.e. butter), and high-saturated
fat sources include cheese and animal meats. Saturated fats
are linked to cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance,
and obesity (although not all studies show that saturated
fat increases the risk of diabetes - see Salmeron et al.
above). It is recommended that saturated fat intake be kept
to less than 10% of total calories.
fats may have one, two, or three double bonds (meaning one,
two, or three fewer hydrogen atoms). With respect to the
essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (Omega-6) has two double
bonds and linolenic acid (Omega-3) has three double bonds.
These are examples of polyunsaturated fatty acids, both
of which are found in the most recommended healthy fat,
fats are found in olive and canola oils. Olive oil provides
the monounsaturated fat oleic acid, but despite olive oil's
reputation (also, you must insist on non-processed extra
virgin olive oil!), flaxseed oil is likely still a far superior
source of fat. Monounsaturated fats that are incorporated
into cell membranes may protect against free radical "lipid
peroxidation". This is unhealthy cellular damage (oxidative
damage) that antioxidants (such as vitamin E) also help
to protect against. Substituting monounsaturated fats for
saturated fat may help protect against damage induced by
aging and toxins, as well as insulin resistance from poor
dietary choices (Vessby et al., 2001).
B., et al. Substituting dietary saturated for onounsaturated
fat impairs insulin sensitivity
in healthy men and women: The KANWU Study. Diabetologia
fats are most commonly associated with vegetable (plant)
or fish oils. They are also referred to as OMEGA-fatty acids.
The most important polyunsaturated fatty acids are the essential
fatty acids, linoleic acid (OMEGA-6) and linolenic acid
fat from animal products (meat, dairy, and eggs) can provide
more than just saturated fat. Depending on the diet of the
animal, these products can also provide small amounts of
polyunsaturated fats (i.e. feeding hens a diet of flaxmeal
can increase the Omega-3 fatty acid content of eggs). In
contrast, animals fed corn will have a high Omega-6 fatty
the fat content of animals through feeding strategies may
be one way to help increase the healthy fat intake of the
North American population. In a recent study, modified pork
meat with a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids
(PUFAs) and a low content of saturated fat lowered plasma
LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) concentrations in women
despite a diet of 42% fat (Stewart et al., 2001)!
J., et al. Pork with a high content of polyunsaturated fatty
acids lowers LDL cholesterol
in women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 74: 179-187, 2001.
- ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS: Omega-3 & Omega-6
fatty acids are crucial to many functions in the body. Compounds
called eicosanoids (including prostaglandins and thromboxanes)
are synthesized from essential fatty acids and control such
things as blood pressure, blood clotting, nerve impulses,
insulin sensitivity, hormones and other functions. Like
all fats, EFAs exert some of their effects through their
incorporation into cell membranes.
fatty acids are similar to essential amino acids (protein)
in that they must included in the diet because the body
can not make them on their own. Unfortunately, EFAs are
more difficult to consume in sufficient amounts when following
a regular North American diet. Many EFA sources are destroyed
by food processing, with the worst-case scenario being the
hydrogenation of EFA sources (such as hydrogenated vegetable
dietary requirement may even increase with unhealthy practices
such as high saturated fat intake, high trans-fatty acid
intake, high sugar intake, alcohol consumption, smoking,
or exposure to environmental toxins. Deficiencies of essential
fatty acids have been linked to a wide range of unhealthy
states. Again, because EFAs are important for cell membranes,
this may explain why an EFA deficiency can have such a broad
impact on health. Problems that have been associated with
EFA deficiency include:
disease - Hypertension (high blood pressure)
disease - High LDL (bad) cholesterol
resistance (leading to type II diabetes)
& skin health
loss & dementia
most important Omega-6 fatty acid is linoleic acid. North
Americans get plenty of Omega-6 fatty acids in their diet
because vegetable oils are so prominent in North American
cooking. Linoleic acid serves as the substrate for the production
of other Omega-6 fatty acids, such as gamma-linolenic acid
(GLA) and arachidonic acid (AA).
is the desired Omega-6 fatty acid because it has may enhance
the action of the Omega-3 fatty acids. Direct sources of
GLA are Borage Oil (23% of the fat in borage oil is GLA)
and Evening Primrose Oil (9% GLA). In contrast, and in confusion,
experts suggest that arachidonic acid is not something you
want a lot of in your diet because it may promote inflammation.
for general health reasons, it is likely unnecessary to
supplement directly with Omega-6 fatty acids, provided you
are supplementing with flaxseed oil (which contains Omega-3
fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids). As mentioned earlier,
the North American diet provides plenty of Omega-6 containing
oils. Unfortunately, many store-bought oils are partially
hydrogenated, thus counteracting their benefits. Do your
best to eliminate all sources of hydrogenated fats!
fatty acids are sometimes referred to as "ultra-polyunsaturated"
fatty acids because they contain the fewest hydrogen atoms
and most double bonds (three) in their structure. Their
structure may contribute to their positive health benefits
when incorporated into cell membranes. Research has shown
that supplementing the diet with omega-3 PUFA increased
insulin sensitivity and this may have been due to positive
changes in the cell membrane (Storlien et al., 1987).
interest in fatty acid research stemmed from the good health
of Eskimos, whose high-fat diet is about 2.5's higher in
Omega-3s than Omega-6s. Research has shown that as little
as 4 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids per day can decrease blood
triglycerides and cholesterol (Nilsen et al, 2001). Omega-3s
are anti-inflammatory and help support the immune system.
There are three Omega-3 fatty acids with the most notable
being alpha-linolenic acid (commonly referred to as linolenic
acid). EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic
acid) are the remaining two Omega-3s, and can be made indirectly
from linolenic acid and obtained directly from fish oil.
studies suggest that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk
of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3s may also boost levels
of HDL (good) cholesterol (Nilsen et al., 2001), reduce
blood pressure, and inhibit formation of blood clots. Unfortunately,
the recent study by Nilsen et al. (2001) failed to show
a decrease in cardiac events in cardiac patients after supplementation
of 4g of Omega-3s for over a year. It is important to realize
that Omega-3 supplementation does not result in overnight
benefits, but rather benefits that accrue over the long-term.
This study may have required even more time for the improvements
in cholesterol to be reflected in improvements in cardiac
health. In addition, the simple addition of Omega-3s will
not excuse all other habits of bad health!
water fish (salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, albacore
tuna, and trout are some of the main ones) and plants (flax
and hemp) are the best sources of Omega-3s. Experts believe
the accumulation of Omega-3 fatty acids has been some sort
of evolutionary adaptation by cold-climate plants and fish.
It is recommended that you stick to non-hydrogenated "cold"
oils and don't let food processing (i.e. hydrogenation of
good oils) incapacitate your efforts to include healthy
fats in your diet.
Erasmus, a worldwide expert on fats and the author of "Fats
that heal, fats that kill" has stated, "Essential
fatty acids speed learning and can increase IQ by 6-9 points."
A bold statement indeed! While there may not be published
studies to back that up, there is no denying the power of
Omega-3s. Flax and fish oils are the best sources of Omega-3s,
but even these fatty acids are still very different from
one another. It is generally considered that flax is the
best overall source for Omega-3 fatty acids.
D., Effects of a high-dose concentrate of n-3 fatty acids
or corn oil introduced early
after an acute myocardial infarction on serum triacylglycerol
and HDL cholesterol.
Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 74: 50-56, 2001.
L., et al. Fish oil prevents insulin resistance induced
by high-fat feeding in rats. Science.
237: 885-888, 1987.
recommend that if you supplement with nothing else, make
it flaxseed oil. The World Health Organization and the National
Cancer Institute recognize flaxseed as a "super food."
Flaxseed oil is cheap, costing only 8 dollars (Canadian!)
for 8 ounces, and easy to use. Flaxseed is the first choice
for supplemental EFAs because it contains linolenic acid
(that may be converted to EPA & DHA) and linoleic acid
in large amounts. Since fish oils provide only EPA and DHA
and not linolenic or linoleic acid, they do not provide
the best overall individual source of EFAs.
like everything else in life, experts do not unanimously
agree on this point! Other experts believe that fish oils
may be more important, or at least that you must get EPA
and DHA directly from supplemental fish oil, because the
conversion of linolenic acid to EPA and DHA may be limited.
Read on for more information on a possible solution.
is the world's richest source of Omega-3s, but unfortunately
flaxseed oil is not the best-tasting stuff in the world.
In fact, flaxseed oil is nothing short of gross, even though
some claim it is an "acquired" taste (it's not!).
However, users generally find it more tolerable when mixed
in food (i.e. meal replacement shakes, salad dressings,
etc.). In fact, one experienced bodybuilder and supplement
user claimed that it made his delicious protein shake even
more enjoyable. In addition, ground flaxseeds can be added
to baked goods, pancakes, and cereals, or stirred into beverages
(a coffee grinder can be used to grind a large quantity
tablespoon of flaxseed oil (13.5g) provides:
of Polyunsaturated Fat
of Omega-3 fatty acids
55-58% of total fat
This is by far the highest concentration of Omega-3 fatty
acids in oil.
The next most concentrated oil is hemp with 16% Omega-3.
: These may be made from the Omega-3 fatty acid linolenic
15% of total fat
Practically no GLA
of Saturated Fat
: 9% of total fat
This is the 2nd lowest saturated fat content of oil. Evening
9% saturated fat, while Canola oil has 7%.
of Monounsaturated Fat
: 19% of total fat
$1,000,000 QUESTION: "How much flax oil should I take?"
oil 55% of the oil is Omega-3
of the oil is Omega-6
oil 19% of the oil is Omega-3
of the oil is Omega-6
(Apparently tasty, but expensive!)
11% of the oil is Omega-3
10% of the oil is Omega-3
56% of the oil is Omega-6
1.1% of the oil is Omega-3
29% of the oil is Omega-6
53% of the oil is Omega-6
57% of the oil is Omega-6
Milk 2.5% of the fat is Omega-3
1.5% of the fat is Omega-3
fish oils and whole fish are recognized as good sources
of EPA & DHA.
oils may have more health benefits for people with cardiovascular
disease or insulin resistance than flaxseed oil. This is
likely due to the high EPA and DHA content of fish oils.
For example, both EPA and DHA independently contribute to
the lowering of blood pressure (Appel et al., 1993). It
is widely accepted that both EPA and DHA have heart-protective
effects such as lowering blood triglycerides (Bonaa et al.,
1992) and help to decrease blood clotting (promote blood
thinning), thus reducing the risk of death from heart attacks
and reducing heart disease. As a result of the blood thinning,
fish oil supplementation may increase bleeding time!
American Heart Association advises adults to eat 2 servings
of fish per week in order to get enough Omega-3s. Water-packed
tuna will retain more of the Omega-3s than oil-packed tuna
when drained. As mentioned earlier, linolenic acid can convert
to DHA and EPA, but the conversion rate may be low and inefficient.
Therefore, you may need to have additional sources of DHA
and EPA in your diet, aside from flaxseed oil.
purported benefits of fish oils include increased insulin
sensitivity (Mori et al., 1999) and decreased symptoms of
rheumatoid arthritis (6g per day for 6 months). DHA is also
an important component in the nervous system and may help
combat depression and behavioral problems in children. All
of these conditions have been associated with an EFA deficiency.
L., et al. Does supplementation of diet with fish oil reduce
blood pressure? A meta-analysis
of controlled clinical trials. Arch. Intern. Med. 153: 1429-1438,
K., et al. Docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids in
plasma phospholipids are
divergently associated with high density lipoprotein in
humans. Arterioscler. Thromb.
12: 675-681, 1992.
T., et al. Dietary fish as a major component of a weight-loss
diet: effect on serum lipids,
glucose, and insulin metabolism in overweight hypertensive
subjects. Am. J.
Clin. Nutr. 70: 817-825, 1999.
- RECOMMENDED INTAKE of EFAs
is probably the most important thing on everyone's mind;
how much of the EFA's do you need to take each day? Unfortunately,
it may be impossible to say precisely how much you need
(due to individual circumstances), but there are some guidelines.
Doctor's recommendations range from 1 to 4 tablespoons of
flaxseed per day for sufficient intake of essential fatty
with established guidelines, such as Canada, recommend the
higher amounts (4 tablespoons) for pregnant and breastfeeding
women. Fortunately, it is not necessary for most people
to use the mega-dose of 4 tablespoons of flaxseed oil. In
fact, some doctors categorize anything over 1 tablespoon
as a mega-dose, and suggest that this amount be restricted
to clinical populations. Like anything else, extremes are
possible. That is why it is sufficient to stick with 1 tablespoon
of flaxseed oil per day. In fact, fat expert Dr. Udo Erasmus
claims he once developed a deficiency in Omega-6s by consuming
flaxseed oil as his only fat source!
experts believe that the North American diet contains too
many Omega-6s in comparison to Omega-3s. This ratio has
been estimated at 10:1 (or higher!) and is recommended to
be closer to 6:1 or even 4:1 (Omega-6 to Omega-3). In the
early 1990's, Canada's Minister of National Health and Welfare
established the ratio of 6:1 as one that would promote health.
reality, one tablespoon of flaxseed oil is a very small
amount of supplemental fat. Most people will easily be able
to remove ~10-15g of unhealthy fats from their current diet
in order to allow for this supplementation without increasing
daily total caloric intake or fat consumption. By adding
the EFAs and removing hydrogenated fats, you will have made
two big steps towards a healthier diet. For good health
through fat intake, it is best to try as hard as possible
to remove all hydrogenated fats from your diet and then
begin to add Omega-3 fatty acids. Once you have accomplished
this, try to achieve the recommended Omega-6 to Omega-3
little as two servings of fish per week can make a difference
in health, according to several long-term analysis of diets.
Many countries, such as Scandinavian countries, have had
lower risks of heart disease associated with higher fish
intakes. As mentioned previously, some of the interest in
fish oils stems from the low incidence of heart disease
in Eskimo populations despite their very high fat intake.
Supplemental doses of fish oil (or more frequent consumption)
would be necessary for all of the other benefits that have
been shown in clinical trials using high daily doses of
how will you know if you are taking the "right"
dose? Well, unfortunately you won't notice that one tablespoon
of flaxseed oil has solved all of your health problems overnight.
In fact, it may not be next week, next month, or even next
year before you are satisfied with the benefits of daily
"fat" supplementation. However, there may be some
benefits such as healthier skin that could become evident
quite quickly with consistent supplementation. You might
also learn of some surprisingly beneficial changes after
your next blood examination (i.e. lowered cholesterol or
how much will better health cost you? If you consume an
average daily dose, flaxseed oil will cost only about $12
per month. If you substitute fish in place of other meat
dishes a couple of times each week the costs will be minimal.
However, if you choose to supplement with gram doses of
fish oil capsules, you will likely spend upwards of $70
per month. However, is there really a price on good health?
Some of the best fats to eat in addition to supplementation
include soybean oil, almonds, extra virgin olive oil, and
walnuts. In contrast, do your best to stay away from margarine,
lard, and butter.
- HEALTH & NUTRITIONAL TIPS FOR WARDING OFF DISEASE
article was meant to introduce you to a healthy manner of
dietary fat manipulation, but there are a number of habits
that you could adopt to enhance your health, such as:
Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats, trans-fatty
acids, and sugar.
Increasing your Omega-3 fatty acid intake with daily flax
oil and eating more cold-water fish (even if just twice
Consuming at least the RDA/DRI for vitamins and minerals.
Adding a mix of antioxidants into your diet (see ISSUE #53)
Increasing your fiber intake.
higher intake of linolenic acid was associated with a lower
relative risk of fatal ischemic heart disease (Hu et al.,
1999). Dr. Hu, from the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology,
at the Harvard School of Public Health, also recommends
increasing nut, fiber, and lean protein consumption in place
of high-glycemic carbohydrates, saturated fat, and trans-fatty
acids in order to decrease the risk of diabetes (Hu et al.,
2001). A diet based on green foods, fruits and vegetables,
good fats and lean protein is a good and healthy diet. This
prescription provides for plenty of variety and is in line
to support active lifestyles and bodybuilding.
F., et al. Dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid and risk
of fatal ischemic heart disease among
women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 69: 890-897, 1999.
F. et al. Diet and risk of Type II diabetes: the role of
types of fat and carbohydrate. Diabetologia
44: 805-817, 2001.
- FISH OILS, FLAX, FAT & BODYBUILDERS
the focus of this article is the health benefits of fats
for the general populations, there are a few theoretical
practical applications of fats for BODYBUILDERS. Of interest,
an increase in dietary Omega-3 fatty acids can potentially
increase insulin sensitivity in muscle, improve body composition
(as shown in animal studies that used very high dosages),
and decrease exercise-induced inflammation.
of the functional differences between Omega-6s and Omega-3s
are that Omega-6s seem to promote inflammation while Omega-3s
are slightly inflammatory. Thus, adding some Omega-3s may
be of benefit to BODYBUILDERS (and athletes) because the
Omega-3s could decrease tissue inflammation (and thus promote
a pure health standpoint, it is recommended that saturated
fat intake be kept to less than 10% of total calories. On
the other hand, for bodybuilders and strength athletes,
a more liberal intake of saturated fat may be beneficial
for gains in strength and mass. The saturated fats may promote
a more optimal hormonal environment by providing sufficient
substrate for testosterone production.
it is important to consider total body weight when determining
intake of any food, and fats are no different. Since Dr.
Udo Erasmus suggests consuming 3-6% of your daily caloric
intake as Omega-3s, this obviously won't be the same for
smaller individuals and larger bodybuilders, as the muscular
bodybuilder will thus end up needing to consume slightly
more of each EFA (and other nutrients).
- MORE INFO FOR YOUR HEALTH
information was too valuable to let go by without note because
older males suffer from broken bones too. Over 80,000 men
sustain hip fractures annually with one-third dying within
a year from complications of the fracture. Health care costs
related to osteoporosis are expected to grow to more than
$60 billion per year by the year 2020. There are 2 simple
ways to help prevent osteoporosis; a) nutrition and b) weight
& SYNDROME X
minute of the day, another American becomes clinically diabetic
(adding to the already 16 million with diabetes). Unfortunately,
33% of the individuals are unaware of their disease! They
might not even know until they have had a heart attack or
some other severe symptom. In addition, there are approximately
7 million Americans that fall into the category of "super-obese"
(weighing more than 100 pounds greater than normal).
syndrome, also known as "Syndrome X", often occurs
in individuals before they become diabetic. Syndrome X includes
obesity (particularly fat around the "gut"), high
serum triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and a slight
increase in resting blood sugar levels. Basically, there
are symptoms of insulin resistance that develops when the
cells of the body do not respond properly to normal levels
of insulin in the blood.
biggest factor in insulin resistance is abdominal "gut"
obesity. Waist circumferences of more than 40 inches (102
cm) and 35 inches (88 cm) puts males and females at very
high risk for insulin resistance and Syndrome X, respectively.
It is hoped that Syndrome X can be treated with weight loss
and exercise before someone is reduced to using pharmacological
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