It sounds counterproductive, right? Well it’s not. Fat is a nutritional essential, but thanks to bad publicity from questionable diet plans, its long been viewed as the enemy. But in the last few years, people seem to be coming around to it.
Fat doesn’t have to sit alone at the lunch table anymore. It’s no longer ridiculed for looking different. It has become part of the in-crowd. Fat is the new black.
Okay, maybe not. But you get my point.
Fat has become so popular that people are buying fat supplements. From fish oil to CLA, the shelves of nutritional stores are now lined with fat pills… right next to the fat burners and fat blockers.
Oh the irony.
So what exactly are these different supplements and what do they claim to do? Here’s a rundown of the popular ones, ThisGirlTrains style:
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and its many benefits have been studied extensively. Research suggests that fish oil may be helpful in fighting cancer, asthma, depression, cardiovascular disease, ADHD, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Studies also indicate that fish oil may help reduce body fat, when taken at a dosage of 1-3 grams, three times daily.
Flax, or “linseed” oil, also contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fats come from Alpha Lineolic Acid (ALA), which has been shown to inhibit cancerous tumors in animal studies. The plant-based fatty acids of flaxseed oil may reduce inflammation in the body, helping to improve conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and Parkinson’s. The oil may also regulate cholesterol, blood sugar, and heart rate, and may reduce the severity of hot flashes in perimenopausal women. Other claims include reduction in water retention and increases in metabolic rate and energy production.
Studies have indicated that coconut oil may help our bodies fight harmful viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungus and candida. There is also evidence that it can aid in thyroid function and blood sugar control. The fats from coconuts are called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and breaking down these types of healthy fats in the liver can increase the body’s fat-burning efficiency. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that medium-chain fatty acids were three times more effective at increasing metabolism than long-chain fatty acids, concluding that replacing long-chain fatty acids with medium-chain ones could be an effective weight loss method.
Krill oil comes from krill (hello Captain Obvious), tiny shrimp-like creatures that make up a large portion of whale and seal diets. There’s been a lot of hype about krill oil lately and since I tend to veer away from hype, research for this article was my first real look at the stuff. Krill oil contains EPA and DHA, the same omega-3s found in fish oil – therefore, krill oil shares many of the same benefits. However, some studies suggest that krill oil is better absorbed and may reduce levels of endocannabinoids, chemical compounds that activate receptors which moderate appetite.
Cod Liver Oil
Like fish and krill oil, cod liver oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but it has the added benefits of omega-6 and high amounts of vitamins A and D. Cod liver oil is often used to treat a host of ailments, including depression, diabetes, glaucoma, heart disease, hypertension, lupus and arthritis. In terms of fat loss benefits, studies how proven that both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids can aid in fat loss, so it is possible that cod liver oil may contribute to positive body composition changes.
Borage oil comes from the borago officinalis plant and is rich in gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid. Borage oil appears to be a strong anti-inflammatory and is used in herbal medicine to treat arthritis, congestion, eczema, symptoms of menopause, and depression. Buzz was created around the fat-burning qualities of GLA earlier this year when that funny little man, Dr. Oz, made claims that 1,000mg of GLA before every meal would help women lose belly fat in 7 days. Ok, Oz, but show us the studies.
It is very rare that you will find me touting the benefits of supplements, simply because most of them are total shit. But CLA is one that I’ve personally had good results with. CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, is a natural fatty acid found in red meat and dairy products. If you limit or abstain from either, you’re probably not getting enough CLA through diet alone to experience its benefits. A substantial amount of research has been conducted on CLA, and benefits appear to include: reduction in cancerous tumors; reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation and insulin resistance; and lowered rates of food-induced allergic reactions. I know what you’re thinking – “whatever Jessica… is it gonna help me lose fat or what?” Well, if taken in adequate quantities – very possibly. Strong positive correlations between CLA consumption and reduced body fat/increased lean body mass have been shown.
The amount that needs to be taken in order to experience the body composition benefits will vary depending on your weight, but it will likely be in the 4-9 grams/day range. I go with the higher dose and I notice changes very quickly (within a month) in my subcutaneous fat.
Fat is fab
While there are obviously many different supplements available that might help reduce body fat, you can also experience some of these body composition benefits by altering the macronutrient ratios of your diet to include more fat and fewer carbs. The key is to make sure you’re eating good fats – olive oils, avocados, almonds, lean meats… not the shit you see on diets like Atkins (where it’s an effing free-for-all on bacon and hamburger) unless you’re seeking a prescription for hypertension, high cholesterol, and perhaps a heart attack or two. Be smart, eat a diet that includes healthy fats, and if you fancy, try out a fat oil supplement.