The Role of Fat in Hardgainer Muscle Building Nutrition

Dietary fat got a bad rap during the 80s and early 90s. Just about everyone who was health conscious was following a low-fat diet. Not only were people depriving themselves of fat, but they were replacing the fat with carbohydrates. This carbohydrate binging led to expanding waistlines and set us up for the low-carbohydrate craze that is only beginning to die-down now.

As you may have guessed, demonizing one macronutrient (proteins, carbs, and fats) in favor of another is not a good strategy for health, fat loss, or muscle building. Each macronutrient has its own beneficial functions in the body. If we want to have a diet that is optimal for health and fitness then we need a combination of all three macronutrients, but we need to know how and when these macronutrients should be eaten.

In a previous article I covered how carbs have place in everyone’s diet, and especially for those whose primary goal is muscle gain. Now, let’s take a look at the role fats play especially in a hardgainer muscle building nutrition plan.

There are three broad types of dietary fat:

1. Polyunsaturated
Three are two main types of polyunsaturated fats, omega-3s and omega-6s. The typical diet tends to be high in omega-6s (from vegetable oils and other sources) and low in omega-3s. In fact, the typical diet has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of around 20:1. The problem with this is that we evolved eating a diet with a ratio of around 3:1 or even 1:1, so this is what our genetics are designed for. The modern change in the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio can lead to a variety of health problems, and is one of the reasons fish oil (omega-3) is so beneficial.

2. Monounsaturated
Found in high concentrations in olives, avocadoes, and nuts, monounsaturated fats are the basis of the popular “Mediterranean Diet.” These fats are very healthy for you, and may actually improve many cardiovascular conditions when eaten in moderation.

3. Saturated
Saturated fats are typically thought of as the worst fats for health. They are found in things like meats and dairy products, as well as some plant sources like coconut oil. While these fats are typically thought of as artery-cloggers, some saturated fats are necessary for optimal health and a good physique.

So how much of each type of fat should you be consuming? The fact is that no one really knows.

I’ve found that an equal division between polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats works well. For the polyunsaturated fats I like to keep a ratio of 1:1.

The minimum amount of fat that I recommend consuming is ¼ of your bodyweight, assuming you are relatively lean. For a 200 pound man this would be 50 grams of fat per day. This is the bare minimum in my book.

The exact amount of each will depend on the structure of the rest of your diet and your goals. But whatever your specific situation, shoot for at least the bare minimum.

For a specific hardgainer muscle building nutrition plan based on your goals, check out the Athletic Muscle Building Nutrition Guide.