Fish Oil is Awesome!
The supplement industry is big business. In 1994, the federal government basically let the reigns go on the supplement business, and since then, weight loss pills and magic potions have dominated the scene. You can now buy supplements at your local gas station, and a week doesn’t go by where either a friend or a client asks me about some pill or drink you can buy.
So here’s my take: I’m not a big fan of supplements. Most of us don’t have the dietary protocols in place to warrant the use of supplements, so in essence, you’re throwing your money away. Nothing can replace a whole food diet stacked with quality organic food. If you can nail that down first, then you can start looking at supplementation.
Still, my list of supplements is relatively short. Outside of protein and creatine, the only other thing I file in my UEFP supplement approved stockpile is fish oil. To put it bluntly, fish oil is awesome. More and more research is being put to use to test the boundaries of what fish oil can do. The benefits of fish oils are numerous and include cardiovascular health, weight loss, improving memory, and even helping cope with depression! If you’re looking to take your training and body to the next level then fish oil could definitely be your secret weapon.
Here’s a disclaimer though: the best fish oil supplement should cost you a pretty penny. This doesn’t mean that you need to take out a bank loan in order to buy your supplements, but don’t skimp out on paying for a high quality oil. Resist the urge to buy cheap pills at a convenience store. Remember: the supplement industry is not regulated. For many in the mainstream, Carlson makes what could be considered the best fish oil supplement.
Before getting into the specific benefits of fish oil, it helps to understand why it works. Most diets have a major imbalance of healthy fats; we simply get too many fats like the type found in nuts and olive oil (called Omega-6 fats). Yes, these fats are healthy and need to be part of your diet, but they need to occur in balance. The fat found in fish is called an Omega-3 fat, and the ideal ratio between the two should be 1 to 1. Issues arise when this relationship gets thrown off, and the typical American has a ratio of 20-30:1! Even countries like Japan where they’re surrounded by water and have plenty of fish in the diet, that ratio is still off.
An imbalanced ratio can result in problems, such as inflammation. Reducing inflammation is key to keeping a healthy, lean, and functional body. Fish oil works its magic on our cells. The outer membrane of your cells (think of it like a fence) allows nutrients to get in and out, which is key for your metabolism. Keeping a healthy gate around your cells allows you to keep weight off and stay lean. Processed foods along with a bad ratio of fats will damage the gate to your cells and affect your metabolism. Taking fish oil can help repair those cells and make sure that all those nutrients are getting where they should.
Best of all? You can use fish oil for weight loss. Researchers used fish oil in a 12 week study done with women. There was a group that took 4 grams of fish oil a day compared to a group that took a placebo. Those who took the fish oil supplement had a significant reduction in their waistline along with losing 22 pounds (1)! You can also argue that fish oil may help build muscle; in another study, subjects who took 4 grams of fish oil per day managed to gain one pound of muscle along with dropping 2 pounds of fat mass in 6 weeks (2). Two pounds doesn’t sound like much, but keep in mind that we’re talking about dropping actual fat, not just scale weight – there’s a difference.
The magic doesn’t end there. Yes, you can use fish oil for weight loss as well as other health benefits. Those who need to improve their cardiovascular heath can improve their blood work. Research with fish oil has been shown to lower triglycerides – the fat in your bloodstream – by nearly 30%! (3). Keep in mind that this number is a bit high, and common use may reduce your triglycerides by 10-15%. More research is being dedicated to determining if fish oil can improve your good cholesterol along with other things, such as improving your memory and reducing pain.
If you have your diet and training in order, then you may benefit from fish oil. Just remember to buy a high quality fish oil supplement. The ingredients should list the amount of EPA and DHA (types of Omega-3 fatty acids), along with the oil coming from cold water fish such as cod, herring, and mackerel. Taking in 3-6 grams of fish oil a day may help you build muscle and drop some weight.
1.Krebs, J.D., Browning, L.M., McLean, N.K., Rothwell, J..L, et al. “Additive Benefits of Long Chain n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Weight Losee in the Management of Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Overweight Hyperinsulinaemic Women.”(2006) International Journal of Obesity. 30, 1535- 1544.
2. Noreen, E.E., Sass, M.J., Crowe, M.L., et al. “Effects of Supplemental Fish Oil on Resting Metabolic Rate, Body Composition, and Salivary Cortisol in Healthy Adults.” (2010) Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition..7, 31
3. Harris, W.S. “N-3 Fatty Acids and Serum Lipoproteins: Human Studies.” (1997) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 65, 1645S-1654S