essential fatty acidsFor those who are looking to gain weight, more importantly build muscle; they usually look to the obvious choice for food… protein. After all, protein builds muscle so it makes obvious sense to add it to every meal.

Because of this connection between protein and muscle and the thought process that eating fat is bad, many people trying to gain lean muscle would never think of using fat to gain weight. In fact, most people assume that eating a low fat diet is the only way to go, but, is this really the right thing to do?

The short answer is no. You see, the body needs a variety of sources of energy to operate at optimal levels. Focusing on a high protein and low or no fat diet takes away some of the benefits that fat provides the body and can actually hinder the body from gaining muscle.

[adrotate group=”1″]Fats are responsible for keeping the hormone producing glands in your body active including the most famous one for muscle building, testosterone. Limit your fat, limit your testosterone production… Doesn’t sound like a good formula for building muscle, huh?

Ok, so fats are important in our diet and using fat to gain weight may not be such a bad idea after all, but, you might be asking yourself what KINDS of fats are good to eat? That is a good question as well and the answer there is, ALL OF THEM!

Well, all of them in moderation that is. You see, every type of fat actually plays a role in some type of bodily function. Let’s take a look at the 3 types of fats, what each does, and what types of foods they are contained in:

Saturated Fats

beef saturated fatsWe all know saturated fats. These are the ENEMY! These types of fats are extremely dangerous because while they are the ones responsible for doing the most damage, they are also the ones that taste the best!

Foods that contain saturated fats are whole milk, beef, and ham among others. The liver produces cholesterol from saturated fat to eating lots of it can greatly raise your LDL (or BAD) cholesterol level. However, since saturated fats DO play a role in building muscle, using saturated fat to gain weight might be crucial, but just limit your intake and don’t go overboard with it.

Some sources of saturated fat include:

  • Red meat
  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Butter
  • Vegetable oils

Essential Fatty Acids (Polyunsaturated Fats and EFA’s)

grilled salmonThese are your oils… fish oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, flaxseed oil. They are known as essential because your body cannot produce them and you must get them through your diet. These fats can actually help raise your HDL (or GOOD cholesterol levels). In addition, the fish oil Omega-3 fatty acid is crucial for building muscle in that it repairs tissue.

Some sources of polyunsaturated fat (EFA’s) include:

  • Salmon (and other fish)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Fish oil

Monounsaturated Fats

avocadoThese are the oils that come from vegetable and nut sources. Again, these fats can have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels.

Some sources of monounsaturated include:

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Avocados

The benefits of using fats in your diet to gain weight is far and wide, from boosting natural hormone levels such as testosterone, to transporting vitamins throughout your body, to even helping with the digestion of protein. Focus on the good ones, limit the bad ones, and you can be successful using fat to gain weight.

Jay Olsen, CPT

I'm a certified personal trainer and fitness model. I enjoy helping other guys build muscle by sharing my secrets with them. It's all about having the right weight training and diet program.

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