This is a contributed post about dietary fat by Drew Stegman.
Many bodybuilders underestimate the importance of dietary fat when it comes to gaining muscle. When trying to gain muscle mass fast, you need to make it your best effort to stay away from low fat diets. Dietary fats play a crucial role in hormone regulation, something that is essential for muscle growth. Anytime I have ever been on a low fat diet I have always found it difficult to pack on lean mass. Actually, I take that back – anytime I’ve ever been on a low fat diet I’ve found it impossible to build muscle! Today’s conventional nutrition will tell you that fat is bad for you and too much of it will lead to things like heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes, stroke and a whole host of other health problems. This is simply false.
In fact, one of the main reasons why the obesity problem is so prevalent in America is because people are consuming ridiculous amounts of carbohydrates and aren’t eating enough fat.
Just think of it in evolutionary terms. Millions of years ago, what did our ancestors survive on? They didn’t stuff their face with cookies, cake, ice cream and soda; although I’m sure they would have if it was available to them. Instead, they ate abundant amounts of meat and with that meat comes two things – protein and fat. And yes, the fat that they ate was mostly saturated fat as well. The idea that fat or even saturated fat “clogs your arteries and leads to heart disease” is completely preposterous, since it goes against every evolutionary standard we’ve ever held. If you don’t believe me when I say this, do a quick Google search on ‘The Truth About Saturated Fat & Cholesterol’. I guarantee you won’t find a single study which suggests that saturated fat is bad for you and if you do, the study will more than likely have some serious flaws included in it which probably dramatically altered the outcome of the study. Instead, you’ll find dozens upon dozens of web pages, testimonials and studies which all praise the benefits of increased saturated fat consumption.
Your body actually prefers dietary fat over consuming excess amounts of carbohydrates, since this is how your body adapted over the course of millions of years of evolution. In fact, the only types of carbs that were available millions of years ago were some earthbound fruits and vegetables, since grains and agriculture did not evolve until around 15,000 years ago.
Fat consumption in America has decreased significantly over the past 100 years and yet cardiovascular disease, cancer, type II diabetes and many other diseases remain at an all-time high. In fact, heart disease will account for 25% of all total deaths in the US this year. That’s crazy! And what’s to blame? The highly processed, low-fat, high carbohydrate diet that many Americans have been eating ever since the government and mainstream media drilled it into their brains that fat is bad for them and will kill them. In reality, the complete opposite is true.
In addition to all of this, trans fat consumption has increased and people are replacing real butter with products like “I can’t believe it’s not butter” and so on. These butter substitutes may have some catchy names and might market themselves as being healthy, but the reality is that all of these butter substitutes are harmful for your health and contain hydrogenated oils, which have been associated with an increased incidence in heart disease. Stick to real butter, no matter how much conventional nutrition tells you otherwise.
Knowing all of this, are you starting to see right through the establishment and think for yourself for once?
The establishment wants you to believe that grain products are good and fat is bad, but this has made us completely unhealthy as a culture. I’m not saying that carbohydrates are the most evil thing in this world, but the amount that people are consuming these days (typically about 50-75% of total calories) is simply ridiculous. I’ve talked about this many times – most degenerative diseases could be avoided if people simply reduced their carbohydrate consumption to a reasonable level and increased their dietary fat and protein consumption. I’m not saying you have to limit your carb consumption completely, but 50-75% of total calories is a huge number. Scale that number back to less than 30% of total calories and you will be a much healthier person.
Now that we’ve gotten that out-of-the-way, let’s get back to the million dollar question – How will increased dietary fat consumption benefit me as a bodybuilder?
We already talked about how fat manipulates hormones in a positive manner, but what we didn’t talk about is why this occurs.
Fat is derived from cholesterol, a waxy-like substance that is found in almost every single cell of your entire body. The more fat you eat, the higher your cholesterol goes. The higher your cholesterol goes, the more your body ramps up testosterone and growth hormone production as well – the two most important muscle-building hormones.
To put it simply, the process basically looks like this:
Fat = Cholesterol = Muscle Building Hormones
And do not fear cholesterol either! This is also a huge dietary myth manipulated by the establishment. In fact, dozens of studies suggest that the higher your cholesterol level, the lower your risk of disease and the longer you will live as well. Cholesterol is not harmful to your body whatsoever, despite what some people might try to tell you.
Now we’re left with another question – What types of foods should I be eating to gain muscle?
To answer this question, I first want to list the three types of healthy fats and what foods they can be found in as well.
- Saturated fats: These fats are found in animal products like meat, eggs, cheese, heavy cream and butter. They are solid at room temperature and are fully saturated with hydrogen atoms.
- Monounsaturated fats: These fats can be found in things like nuts, olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil and grape seed oil. They are liquid at room temperature and contain a single double bond in the fatty acid chain.
- Polyunsaturated fats: These fats can be found in things like fish, soybeans, flax seed and fish oil. They can also be solid at temperature and contain more than a single double bond in the fatty acid chain.
Research indicates that the two fats that have the most profound effect on testosterone production are monounsaturated fats and saturated fats, while polyunsaturated fats in large amounts can actually lower testosterone levels. Make sure to get at least 80% of your fat from monounsaturated and saturated fats and leave the remaining 10-20% for polyunsaturated fats if you want to see the best results possible.
What About Trans Fats?
A few questions I’m often asked is what are trans fats as well as what benefits I can experience from including them in my diet when it comes to building muscle. No! No! No! These are the wrong questions to be asking! Some better questions to ask yourself are what are trans fats and why should I stay away from them.
Trans fats are chemically altered fats made in a lab and they yield absolutely no benefits for human beings whatsoever. Ever since the whole saturated fat scare occurred, people were looking for a healthier alternative to saturated fats so they turned to trans fats instead, mistakenly believing that they would improve their health. The results? The complete opposite! Trans fats have been associated with increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease, an increased incidence in cancer, diabetes, stroke, rapid changes in blood cholesterol and many other negative things as well. Like I said, the whole “I can’t believe it’s not butter” campaign has turned us into a completely unhealthy society. These foods are simply fake and your body cannot process them properly, so they often times get stored as fat as well.
You need to recognize trans fats when you see them. Always read your nutrition labels before purchasing any food and look for the words “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the ingredient list. If you see these words or anything with the word “hydrogenated” in the ingredient list, then the food contains trans fats.
It’s not enough to simply look at the nutrition facts and look for the words “0 grams of trans fat”, since food manufacturers are not required to place trans fats on the nutrition facts if they contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. This is a lucrative technique that the food manufacturers use and quite simply, it works. So always look at the actual ingredient list to find out if a food has trans fats in it; never trust the nutrition facts by themselves.
I hope this article has given you a better understanding on fat and its role that it plays in muscle growth. Despite all of the rumors you’ve heard about fat being a killer and not good for you, none of it is true and increased fat consumption has been associated with improved health in many cases, as long as you’re sticking to the 3 basic healthy fats and avoiding processed trans fats at all times.
Never go on a low fat diet if you’re trying to gain muscle or lose weight, since you will not see any results – I know this from personal experience. Making sure at least 30% of your calories come from fat on a daily basis should be sufficient to support muscle growth.
About the Author – This was an article written by Drew Stegman. For more fitness information check out his website: http://how2gainmusclefast.com/