How Important Are Fats for Bodybuilding?
For far too long now, fats have been ridiculed under the garb of countless myths about health consciousness. From being blamed for obesity to being deemed dangerous for your skin, the stigma around fats has done a lot of damage to its true potential.
Luckily, the recent trend for bulking, shedding, and bodybuilding has been the key to undoing some of the damage previously done to the nature and usefulness of fats. Fat-shaming isn't acceptable anymore. Instead, gaining muscle mass through fatty deposits is actually something that can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a toned body.
Other than that, the correct understanding of fats can also help you get on the bandwagon alongside your favourite bodybuilders, such as the all-time famous Arnold Schwarzenegger or the more recent, eye-catching figure of Terry Crews.
The Importance of Fats in Bodybuilding
After carbohydrates and proteins, fats are the third most crucial macronutrient and are essential to your overall health. And just like having an excess fatty diet is terrible for you, a lack of sufficient fats doesn’t help maintain a healthy body, either.
Basically, consuming fats the correct way helps you in your bodybuilding journey in the following ways:
They Provide Energy
Fats to your body are what gasoline is to your car. They're what power your body to function throughout your day, whether it's a sedentary break or a hardcore exercise streak. A higher fat content means you'll be able to exert more energy and for a longer length of time. The greater you need to exercise, the more vital fat becomes to your diet.
Helps in Absorption of Vitamins
Another role that fats play in your body is to ensure you get the most out of your vitamin-based foods. Since vitamins are critical in ensuring a healthy physique, it's essential that your diet helps you consume sufficient vitamin-based foods.
Since many of the nutrients in vitamins are fat-soluble, you need fat to carry them to your body. This, in turn, helps you do better in your bodybuilding journey.
Enhance Muscle Mass
It's true that not all fat is deposited in your body as muscle mass, but a substantial portion of it still goes there. In order to get that extra layer of mass, you should consume about 2,500 more calories through fats in a week than your usual caloric intake. This muscle building is vital to your bodybuilding journey in two ways:
One, an extra fat deposit means higher muscle mass, which is known as bulking. This bulk of fatty muscles on your physique is what you ultimately shed to get a toned body. Without having anything to sculpt or tone, you wouldn't be able to build your body.
Therefore, those few extra pounds of fat are actually what you tone and shape and shed when you lift weights or do bench presses.
Secondly, a layer of fatty mass is also vital in protecting your organs against external impact, as well as helping them repair quickly. Basically, a muscular body provides more protection to your organs when you're working out, so in case there's an accident, you can be assured that the damage isn't that severe.
And even if you're hurt, then having a caloric surplus in the form of fat means your cells will regenerate quicker than usual. Also, having extra fat on your body will keep you warm and pumped up for a workout during chilly conditions!
The last but perhaps the most important role of fats is in your hormone development. Fats are essential when it comes to keeping a healthy hormone ratio. Any hormone that goes off the charts means that your entire physical health could be in an imbalance.
You may appear bloated, feel lazy, or even experience illnesses in case your hormones are imbalanced. Since hormones are constructed from cholesterol and fatty chains, an adequate intake of fats ensures a healthy presence of hormones. These hormones can then help in bodily growth and development, which gives you more chances at building the body of your dreams!
Types of Fats
There are two main types of fats:
Saturated fats are the type of fats in which carbon atoms are completely blanketed by hydrogen atoms, giving them a solid shape at room temperature. In general, you should get about 5-6% of your daily caloric intake from saturated fat sources.
The more you exceed this amount, the more you put yourself at risk of getting more harmful LDL cholesterol, which is often responsible for artery blockage. But when taken in a limited quantity, these fats are quite useful in helping you pack up the required amount of muscle mass on your body.
The types of saturated fats you can add to your diet are:
- Red meat like beef, mutton, lamb, etc.
- Skin-on chicken and other poultry meat
- Whole-milk dairy including full cream milk, dairy cream, cheese, and ice cream
- Palm and coconut oils
These are fats that do not have a complete chain of hydrogen covering, which gives them a fluid, viscous appearance at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are healthier and safer than saturated ones, so it's better to consume them on a larger scale. There are further two types of unsaturated fats:
These are fats that contain one unsaturated bond, are thick liquids at room temperature, and turn solid when you refrigerate them. These include:
- Olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil
- Pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, and other nut varieties
These are the ones that have multiple unsaturated bonds in their structure. They remain in liquid form at both room and refrigerated temperatures. They include:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, etc
- Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
- Soybean and sunflower oils
Polyunsaturated fats have two more categorisations:
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and vegetable oils. These are useful in maintaining your cardiovascular health
- Omega-6 fatty acids, which are mainly found in leafy greens such as spinach, cilantro, etc., seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. About 5-10% of your bodybuilding caloric intake should ideally come from Omega-6 fatty acids
Trans fats are another kind of fats that are available in small quantities in animal-based diets such as dairy and meat. These are also artificially made at an industrial scale and is found in a variety of foods which include:
- Oil-fried foods
- Baked items such as cakes, pies, and biscuits
- Microwaved popcorn
- Frozen foods, such as pizza
Trans fats are essentially those mythical unhealthy fats that pose serious dangers to your health. They lower your good LDL cholesterol and improve the number of bad ones.
Whether you're in bulking mode or in the shedding phase, try to limit your transfat intake as much as possible because not only do they contribute to unhelpful body mass, but they are also associated with health risks such as heart problems, type-2 diabetes, and stroke.
Fats are essential for bodybuilding. The amount, the type, and the intake entirely depend on your body type, but the ground reality remains the same: the healthier fats you consume, the more mass you pack, and that in turn allows you to get a more shapely, well-defined physique!