We’ve already covered the need for dietary fat when it comes to the absorption of key nutrients, especially fat soluble vitamins. But... the kind of fat you consume is also incredibly important, unless you want to be a malnourished individual who suffers the countless consequences of being so. Those who promote the hell out of plant based living will tell you that you can get everything you need from plants, including the ever important delivery mechanism that is fat. They say you can eat flax, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds… and yes, we are talking about the same chia seeds that make those goofy, decorative nick-nacks resembling animals or presidents’ heads or whatever. But is this true? Can we get everything we need in the way of fat by eating horrible tasting, ugly decorations? Let’s specifically discuss the fat humans the world over are most deficient in…
It sounds like the name of a Transformer, but it’s also a very important component of the membranes that surround every cell in your body. It performs a host of functions in your lungs, blood vessels, heart, immune system, and your endocrine system, which is where your hormone production and regulation happens. On top of that, research is showing that Omega 3s can aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, dementia, cognitive impairment, and decline, cardiovascular disease. It may also play a more important role in infant development and health than we once thought.
We previously mentioned that the plant-based community champions seeds as an adequate source of Omega 3s, but the reality is that isn’t likely to be true unless you were to eat copious amounts of these seeds… literally hundreds of times the amounts recommended, and then you might not even get enough. Why?
Seeds, blueberries, and other plants can only provide you with ALA, which is actually just a precursor to the 2 derivatives of Omega 3s (DHA and EPA). If the body is performing at a peak optimum, it can convert around 1% of ALA into DHA and EPA, but to perform at that optimum, you need adequate amounts of selenium, zinc, iron, and B6, all of which aren’t very bioavailable in plants, so in order to convert ALA from plants optimally, you’d have to either eat meat, or eat an insane variety of plants in an absurd quantity… just to get that 1% conversion. Sounds exhausting.
What compounds the plant based Omega 3 conundrum even more is the overabundance of Omega 6 fatty acids in the western diet. Historically, the ratio of Omega 6s to Omega 3s in the human diet; the diet that evolved us into the baddest mammalian predators to ever traverse the planet; was somewhere between 1:1 and 4:1. Now, we’re in the ballpark of 16:1 on average. The problem with this is that Omega 6s compete with ALA for enzymes involved in desaturation and elongation, making us suboptimal at ALA conversion into Omega 3s, which we’re already highly deficient in. In fact, only about 20% of humans get an adequate amount of Omega 3s. So… you can eat a salad the size of Texas every day to maybe get enough Omega 3s…
Since we’ve already established that it’s near impossible to achieve optimal consumption of Omega 3s (or creatine, choline, carnitine, and B12) from plants without some seriously awful side effects of eating voluminous quantities of cruciferous, fibrous, diarrhea inducing vegetables, where CAN we get adequate amounts?
You may have guessed it… animals. Particularly oily fish and GRASS FED, GRASS FINISHED beef. Why the all caps? Emphasis. We’re yelling at you. We need to stress that grass fed, grass finished beef has the proper Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio, whereas grain fed beef does not. Cows are supposed to eat grass. When we feed them things they’re not supposed to eat, they suffer the same fate as when we humans consume things we ought not consume. That deficiency is then passed on to us in the meat.
So go to a farm. Go to a butcher. Grab a ribeye and optimize.
For more information on optimizing your fat intake, email our beef eating performance experts.