By TRAVIS WADE
What Are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated means at least 2 spots where the molecule isn’t saturated with hydrogen. Omega 3 means the first hydrogen atom that is “missing” is between the third and forth carbon atom at the end of the carbon tail of the molecule. The three omega 3 fatty acids that humans use are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed and chia seeds. DHA and EPA are found mostly in seafood.
The single easiest and most effective thing I can get my clients to do for any health or fitness goal is to take a multivitamin and get omega 3 fatty acids. I ask clients to look up the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids for motivation to take them and they usually come back with a huge list of diseases that are prevented by omega 3 fats. They definitely prevent diseases but here are some more really important reasons to take them.
Top 5 Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
1. Omega 3s are an anti-inflammatory. This is important because so is cortisol which is the stress hormone and cortisol retains fat around the belly. When we take omegs 3s it reduces our cortisol. The number one thing I do as a personal trainer is I reduce stress and cortisol.
Stress is now the number one cause of health issues in our society and the number one obstacle people deal with in their fitness goals. There are many ways to reduce cortisol or stress and they should be implemented, but consuming omega 3s is the easiest and one of the most effective ways.
2. Omega 3s are building blocks of the body and enable our bodies to use fats as energy. Omega 3s are in our cells membrane and are most abundant in cells of the retina, sperm, and brain. Also, without omega 3s our bodies will just store fat or excrete it if we’re lucky instead of using it for energy.
3. Omega 3s are the third highest ranking legal ergogenic aid (performance enhancer). In other words, we perform terribly without them. The number one legal ergogenic aid is water, the number two is carbohydrates. Just like water, our bodies need omega 3s. Without any water our bodies will go on a fast and steady decline and same with omega 3s. The term “essential” means they are necessary to ingest because our bodies will not produce them.
4. Omega 3s are a natural anti-inflammatory. The reason this is so important is due to high amounts of inflammation our food and water typically causes along with all the toxins in the environment. Anybody want to reduce pain in their joints, muscles, or back? Eat omega 3s.
5. If you need another reason to take omega 3s, then yes, they help prevent pretty much every disease there is known to man and help with whatever ails us. Here is a list of diseases prevented by omega-3s put together for you by Sayer Gi and the last time I checked the list was at 322 diseases. In conclusion, asking for the benefits of omega 3s is similar to asking what the benefits of water is.
There is no upper limit of omega 3s. That’s like saying there’s an upper limit of how much saturated fat (meat fat), you can eat. You can eat as much as you want; you’ll never overdose. You might gain weight and be unhealthy, but you won’t overdose. With Omega 3s you want a healthy balance of omega 3s and omega 6s. We already get way too much omega 6s in our diet which makes omega 3s even more important. I have seen doctors recommend 2000-3000 mg per day.
The best way to get omega 3s is in food, however, the problem is all the toxins found in fish these days and the shadiness in the seafood industry. According to Dr. Mercola as much as 80% of fish that says “Wild” is actually farmed. Farmed fish when tested was significantly higher in toxins than wild so we want the wild but it’s hard to get. Even if we are actually getting wild fish it can still be high in toxins. The exception is small fish like sardines or Alaskan wild caught salmon.
The Best Omega 3 Supplements
I recommend krill oil because it has a substance called astaxanthin in it. It’s one of the strongest antioxidants known to man and it preserves the fish oil. You must keep it in the fridge to help preserve it as well.
If you buy an omega 3 supplement off the shelf you are buying rotten fish oil. Don’t bother. It’s not bioavailable (absorbed and used by the body) and you just burp up rotten fish oil. Cod liver oil is not recommended either because it has way too much vitamin A ratio to vitamin D. Taking too much vitamin A mimics a deficiency in vitamin A and people can overdose on vitamin A. Some symptoms are a rash, headache, nausea, and vomitting.
Some people are vegan and rely on chia seeds and flax seeds for their omega 3s but these foods only have ALA in them. Unfortunately, our bodies will only convert very small amounts of ALA into EPA and then to DHA. Getting EPA and DHA straight from foods or supplements is the only way to get enough omega 3 fatty acids. Alternatively, a decent choice for a vegan would be the supplement that comes from algae. I have personally not gone this route but omega 3s from algae does have EPA and DHA making it the best supplement for vegans.
How To Get Omega 3s
I used to take 4 krill oil pills a day thinking I was getting plenty of omega 3s in my diet. I recently found out that I wasn’t getting anywhere near what I needed. I know make are I get these 5 foods in my diet on a regular basis. Mackerel, herring, sardines, oysters, and salmon.
If these 5 foods are not in your diet you will have an extremely hard time getting the omega 3s your mind and body need to function well. You don’t need to eat these seafoods everyday. Omega 3s will stay with you up to 3 days. Try to get at least 5 grams of omega 3s in every 3 day period. Also, I stopped taking omega 3 supplements.
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Back in the day the best pre workout and post workout were pretty straight forward. We used carbohydrates for energy and would bring fast acting carbs in the form of sugar to the gym with us to get us through the workout. That was in the days before the ketogenic diet craze. Now pre workout and post workout are a little more complicated. Some people do really well burning fats for energy and others don’t.
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated means at least 2 spots where the molecule isn’t saturated with hydrogen. Omega 3 means the first hydrogen atom that is “missing” is just past the third carbon atom at the end of the carbon tail of the molecule.
I have been doing a survey lately to see how many people know what vitamin D actually does. People know that it comes from the sun and some people know that most people don’t get enough in North America. People know it’s important and some people even take a supplement of some form. I’ve been asking people for at least a couple weeks now and only 2 people kind of knew what vitamin D does. It does many things but the main thing I was looking for was that it enables the absorption of calcium.
I was talking to a sports therapist last weekend at the Expo centre. He uses cold therapy to reduce inflammation. Sounds pretty normal, right? This isn’t putting an ice pack on a small injury though. He will put you in a room and drop the temperature of that room to minus 160 degrees Celsius for one minute. Wow hey?
I went on CTV again the other day. It was a bit short notice, so I randomly picked how to do a proper squat because I see them being done incorrectly on a regular basis and this can end with permanent damage to the body. I was very nervous, so I had my friend Stephanie come support me and help me demonstrate a proper squat. After the segment was over I thought it went terrible. I thought I rambled off topic and sounded lame. I saw the replay of the segment and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I first thought. Have a look at it here:
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