by Evan "Ox" Centopani
constituting or being part of the essence of something; inherent
basic or indispensable; necessary
being a substance that is required for normal functioning but cannot be synthesized by the body and therefore must be included in the diet.
There you have it... A textbook definition of what it means for something to be essential. I didnít make this up; this isnít my definition. Nor was I the one to identify specific fatty acids and amino acids as being essential. I make the assumption that you were paying attention in your high school biology lecture and picked up on the notion that there are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. Accordingly, that would mean that there are specific fatty acids and amino acids that we would be required to consume because our bodies are unable to synthesize them on its own.
If youíre even somewhat serious about gaining muscle, improving performance, dropping bodyfat, or whatever may be required in order for you to reach your physique oriented goal, Iím sure you have already firmly grasped the concept of protein supplementation. Iíve talked to people who say they are eating 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. For a 200 pound man thatís four hundred grams per day. Damn, even I donít take in that much.
The point is, people have embraced the idea that adequate and proper protein intake is necessary for muscle repair and growth. Taking a look around, between the abundance of quality animal proteins, protein powders and amino supplements, I doubt anyone is in danger of not fulfilling their essential amino acid requirements.
On the same note, you would be hard pressed to find someone who thought it was okay to skip the carbohydrates. Címon, you know youíve always been told how important carbohydrate intake is for fueling your body with the energy it needs to function properly, at optimal levels and train with maximum intensity. Wait a second. What did you say? Oh yeah, youíre right.
Technically there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate or sugar. Thatís true, only amino acids and fatty acids are essential for life. But hey, people still eat plenty of them anyways. Aside from the fact that the practically obsolete food guide pyramid suggests that you make carbohydrates the foundation of your diet and get the majority of your calories from them, many people still believe that carbohydrates should serve as the basis of a solid diet.
Alright alright, Iím not here to talk about whether or not carbohydrate intake is necessary or to talk about ketosis dieting or anything like that. I am simply illustrating the fact that people take in plenty of carbohydrates even thought they are not even essential for proper human nutrition. And people have had an easy time accepting the fact that essential amino acids exist and protein intake must be optimal in order for you to be at your best.
So what about fat? Fat. Such a dirty word. I donít know when it started but in my twenty-five years on this Earth I have always heard a low fat diet being advocated by the masses. I was always told to stay away from fat. Fat makes you fat. Sounds logical right? Itís almost as if youíre going to eat some fat and it is going to enter into your body and immediately attach itself to your abdomen or your ass or your thighs. DamnÖ I hate when that happens.
Let me ask you this--if fat is what makes you fat and you can have your pick of everything from lowfat cheese to lowfat peanut butter (seemingly a contradiction of the very nature of these foods) then why the **** is everyone so damn fat?! Youíve seen it yourself. People have gotten and continue to get fatter and fatter and fatter. Interesting huh? Youíre damn right it is. Itís interesting because it makes no ****ing sense and people continue to do it.
What do I propose? Well I think people should take a look at the fact that there are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids and make them the foundation of their diet. If you had a question about World War II and referred to an encyclopedia for your answer I assume you would trust the information you found and accept it as truth. I encourage you to pick up any reference book and read about essential fats. An encyclopedia will tell you how you must have them in your diet, how crucial they are in order for you to function properly and all the positive effects of consuming your essential fatty acids.
So why are people so resistant to incorporating fats in their diet? Because theyíve had it beaten into their brains that fat is bad for you and that fat makes you fat. Fat does not make you fat. Not eating fat makes you fat. Thatís right, you heard me. Not taking in any one vitamin, mineral, and or macronutrient puts you at the risk of seriously ****ing up your metabolism. Thatís because you need vitamins, minerals, water, and the proper macronutrients to look and feel your best. Neglect any one of them and how could you expect to function at an optimal level? You canít. And if your metabolism is not functioning at 100% because youíre depriving it of something that is essential, such as fats, then you will get fat. Címon, itís not rocket science; itís just common sense.
Personally speaking, I can tell you of the marked improvements Iíve seen in my physique after incorporating essential fatty acids in proper amounts into my diet just over two years ago. I had always tried to follow a low fat diet and coincidentally (or perhaps it is no coincidence at all), I had always been overweight. Even after losing over 70 pounds in high school I still did not have a low bodyfat percentage; I was not lean.
The first five or six years of my bodybuilding career I just ate to grow and thought that being fat was just part of the process and I accepted that. It wasnít until I dieted for my first national level show, the 2006 NPC Junior Nationals, that I learned how important essential fats were for supporting both fat loss and muscle preservation. And ever since that show, I have never gotten fat in the offseason.
Compared to how I used to get and how I see a lot of other guys get in the offseason, I stay fairly lean and feel great. I canít help but think itís because I make essential fatty acids and essential amino acids the foundation of my diet. I grow easier and stay leaner in the offseason. And pre-contest, I keep more muscle size and strength and lose fat easier. But more importantly, whether Iím dieting or trying to gain lean mass, I feel better than I ever have. I do not have cravings, my moods are very steady, I sleep well, my muscles are fuller, my strength is up, and I do not experience sudden hunger followed by lethargy.
Iíd like to share with you the essential fatty acid regimen I followed over the past two years when I won the overall at the 2006 NPC Junior Nationals and the overall at the 2007 NPC Nationals where I earned my IFBB pro card. As many of you know, I'm a bodybuilder who takes nutrition very seriously. Here it is:
ē 1,000 mg x 3 times daily
ē 1,300 mg evening primrose oil x 3 times daily
ē 1,000 mg flax seed oil x 2 times daily
ē 1,000 mg conjugated linoleic acid x 3 times daily
Now keep in mind that Iím an elite bodybuilder and this is what works for me based on trial and error. For you, youíd need to scale back your intake and tailor it to your specific needs. But as you can see, it is a fairly straightforward regime. I get fats from both fish and vegetable sources to make for a complete and comprehensive approach.
I take fish oils because it is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA and DHA are important for mental health, neurological development, regulating inflammation, and sharpening insulin sensitivity. Increasing insulin sensitivity is especially important because the more sensitive you are to your insulin, the less your body will need to produce. Less insulin production means less fat storage, better blood lipid profiles, and a healthier heart. Furthermore, fish-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids are very easy for the body to assimilate and use.
From vegetable sorces, I include some flaxseed oil because it contains the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which can be used by your body to produce EPA and DHA. While some may argue that it first needs to be converted to EPA and DHA, I feel that it is always a good idea to have a variety and to cover every angle. Besides, EFA supplementation isnít just about EPA and DHA. You want a wide range of fatty acids in your diet.
I also supplement with evening primrose oil in order to get sufficient amounts of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) which is vital in order for the body to produce prostaglandins. Prostagalandins are hormones which are necessary for growth, mood regulation, and immune system function. And I round out my supplementation with (conjugated linoleic acid) which, although it is not an essential fatty acid, has been shown to help keep bodyfat in check. For this purpose, Iím also thinking about adding in the future.
So there you have it. For a long time, I was buying four different products to fulfill my essential fatty acid needs. Once I heard that Animal was coming out with their own EFA product, , you better believe I was very interested to see what the new product had to offer. Why? Because Iíve seen a lot of fatty acid supplements which give you a lot of one cheap ingredients and not much of the good stuff. Iíve seen many that are made for the average health nut. But I will say that I was impressed when I was first shown the profile for Animal Omega.
The first thing I noticed was that Animal Omega is a very comprehensive, all-in-one product. If I were to supplement with Animal Omega I would be getting all of the fatty acids that I got with my regimine plus more. Like I mentioned earlier about taking in ALA in order to cover myself even though I was getting a good amount of EPA and DHA, Animal Omega did the same giving you some plus fish oil from a wide variety of species.
The same was done with the omega-6 fatty acids, which are also essential. and primrose oil which are both high in GLA were included but so was some safflower oil because it supplies LA (linoleic acid) which is the raw building block for GLA and is a good source of . All the bases are covered. On top of the essential fatty acids, has been added for their positive effect on bodyfat and overall health. And to make the whole thing go down, lipase enzyme and lecithin were added. Honestly, Iíll be trading in all my current bottles for a single can of Animal Omega. I know Iím going to like the formula and the convenience.