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Essential Fatty Acids May Aid In Weight Loss

Nov 9, 2007
The fact that essential fatty acids may aid in weight loss has been missed by many so-called experts for many years. However the part played by fatty acids, particularly by those in Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils, is now understood and they have been accepted as part of a health weight loss diet.

However, what are the reasons for people to lose weight? The cosmetic reasons are obvious, but what other incentives are there? Health is the major incentive, of course, since excessive weight places more of a strain on the heart. It is a proven fact that the risk of death increases with your weight. If you are obese, you are more likely to have high blood pressure, and will almost certainly die younger than somebody who is of average body weight.

You are also more likely to have more problems with cholesterol levels, since the obese have decreased levels of the HDL lipids that take cholesterol back to the liver for destruction. This means that more LDL cholesterol is available to create conditions ideal for the atherosclerosis that causes heart disease and strokes. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are even 12 pounds over weight for your height. It is a known fact that over 80% of those with diabetes are overweight. There are also many other serious negative effects on your health through being over weight.

So, are you going to lose weight or not? On the face of it, losing weight is simply a matter of calorie balance. If you use up more calories in exercise and through your metabolism than you take in through eating, then you will lose weight. Your metabolism is the rate at which you use up energy while at rest, through the essential functions of life such as circulation, digestion and breathing. Some lucky people burn up a lot of calories when at rest but most people do not and have to exercise more.

However, even if you are aware of the calorie balance equation, losing weight is not easy because it involves the breaking of habits. Habits die hard: that is the old saying and it just as true today with people who have to change their snacking habits. It is not easy to cut down on the foods you like so much, such as ice cream, cookies and cakes, but you have to do it if you want to lose weight.

The blood sugar levels of those that binge eat are all over the place like a roller coaster: sometimes up, when you don't feel hungry, and often down, when you do. Hunger is associated with the availability of the liver's store of glycogen which is an emergency energy store. Low blood sugar levels result in insufficient glucose to be converted into energy by the mitochondria in your body cells. The liver then supplies the glycogen to keep you going, and as that reduces you get hungry.

Permanent weight loss requires a complete change in your lifestyle, and the flexibility to maintain good eating habits even when unexpectedly stuck in an airport for hours, or if you are asked to work late. However, there is something that could help. Good high quality fats can help to stabilize your blood sugar levels and so maintain a good level of glucose in your blood over a longer period of time.

The right fats can actually initiate the burning of stored fat in your body rather than adding to it, so it is important to know what these are so that they can be included in your diet. It is somewhat paradoxical: you eat fat to remove fat, yet is works!

Over-consumption of refined carbohydrates such as refined flour and white rice, and complex carbs such as potatoes and whole grains products, result in sharp increases in blood sugar levels. This creates a surge of insulin from the pancreas to compensate. The blood sugar level drops again, but insulin itself produces fat and also suppresses the ability of the body to burn fats to produce energy, so the glycogen level in the liver drops and you feel hunger. You then eat again, and over a period of time this yo-yo effect of excess and depletion of blood glucose and liver glycogen causes you to put on weight and get fat.

Essential fatty acids (EFA), specifically gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) have been found to be effective in helping you to reduce weight. GLA activates the metabolic process involving ATPase. It has been demonstrated that an increase in body mass index (BMI) is associated with a reduction in calcium ATPase activity and GLA can stimulate ATPase, including the so-called 'sodium pump', sodium-potassium-ATPase to burn up a large proportion of the stored fat in the body.

GLA also activates what is known as BAT, or 'brown adipose tissue', which is a fat in people that are over-weight, and can be activated to burn up calories. It is also believed to take part in the biosynthesis of serotonin, a hormone that provides you with the 'feel-good factor', and so you are less likely to feel hungry.

All of these combine to render GLA a very effective fatty acid in helping to reduce weight. So how does CLA fit in to all this? CLA has been proved to reduce body fat while helping to improve the proportion of lean muscle tissue with your body. Its only known dietary sources are grass fed meat and dairy products. The reduction in grass feeding of livestock within the USA has reduced this source over the past 20 years.

GLA is manufactured in the body from linoleic acid found in borage oil and evening primrose oil, and to lesser amounts in some vegetables and other seed oils. However, its biosynthesis is blocked by smoking, stress, aging, viruses, trans fats and alcohol. Anybody suffering from or with a high intake of any of these should take a supplement if they want to lose weight, otherwise they will find it very difficult.

Omega-3 fish oils also help by increasing the metabolism. The EFA here is alpha linolenic acid that is metabolized in the body to dicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and then docohexaenoic acid (DHA). These acids provide your body with a wide range of benefits, but weight-wise, they increase your metabolism so that you burn off more calories while you are at rest. Basically, you burn calories off while you sleep.

All of these essential fatty acids are available as supplements, and the general health benefits of essential fatty acids are well known and accepted by the medical profession. Their effect on weight loss is still under investigation, though their positive effects have now been generally accepted.
About the Author
More information on essential fatty acids can be found at VitaNet, LLC Health Foods your one stop shop for nutritional supplements and information. http://vitanetonline.com/
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