This article was written by Calvin Sun:
One of the biggest misconceptions about nutrition is the idea that “fat makes you fat”. While dietary fats are more energy dense than their macronutrient counterparts, not all fats are created equal. In fact, fish oil can actually help you lose body fat and increase lean body mass . Fish oil is usually one of the first supplements I will recommend for most of my body composition clients.
What Does The Research Suggest?
Scientific research has found that fish oil can help improve body composition through a variety of mechanisms. Several studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids improve insulin sensitivity [2,3,4]. Poor insulin sensitivity makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to lose body fat. Another benefit of taking fish oil is reduced inflammation which can help with fat loss as well [1,3]. In addition to fat loss, the anti-inflammatory effect can also reduce acute muscle soreness from exercise , allowing you to recover from your training sessions and make the most of your time at the gym.
Other research has found that fish oil plays a role in suppressing the lipogenic genes that are responsible for fat gain [6,7]. There is also evidence that suggests fatty acid oxidation is increased as a result of fish oil supplementation . In other words, fish oil can simultaneously suppress fat gain and increase fat burning. Lean body mass is increased as well through fish oil supplementation. Another study found that eight weeks of supplementation in healthy young and middle-aged adults resulted in increased protein synthesis and muscle gain .
A 2010 study tested the effects of fish oil supplementation in healthy men and women. Test subjects were administered either four grams of fish oil or an equivalent amount of safflower oil (an omega-6 fat) for six weeks. Researchers found that fish oil supplementation resulted in reduced body fat, increased muscle mass, and a decrease of cortisol .
How Much Should I Take?
In the research I have cited for this article, the effective dose of omega-3 is around 4 to 6 grams a day. Ideally this is split up into 2 or 3 doses throughout the day with meals. For example, you can take 1-2 capsules with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Do You Recommend Any Brands Of Fish Oil?
I personally take PurePharma O3. Their product is one of the best I’ve found in terms of quality and purity. It comes in capsule form which makes it convenient to take and there’s no fishy smell or aftertaste. PurePharma is available at both Invictus locations as well as online retailers like Amazon.
Remember that taking fish oil alone won’t give you a six-pack. While supplementation can help you get better results, you still need to eat clean and regularly exercise to achieve your body composition goals.
1. Noreen, E., Sass, M., Crowe, M., Pabon, V., Brandauer, J., & Averill, L. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2010, 7, 31.
2. Tsitouras, P., Gucciardo, F., Salbe, A., Heward, C., & Harman, S. High omega-3 fat intakes improves insulin sensitivity and reduces CRP and IL6, but does not affect other endocrine axes in healthy older adults. Hormonal Metabolism Research, 2008, 40, 199.
3. Young Oh, D., Talukdar, S., Bae, E., Imamura, T., Morinaga, H., Fan, W., Olefsky, J. GPR120 is an omega-3 fatty acid receptor mediating potent anti-inflammatory and insulin sensitizing effects. Cell, 2010, 142, 687.
4. Gonzalez-Periz et al, Obesity-induced insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis are alleviated by omega-3 fatty acids: a role for resolvins and protectins. FASEB J. 2009 Jun; 23(6):1946-57
5. Jouris, K., McDaniel, J., Weiss, E. The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on the Inflammatory Response to Eccentric Strength Exercise. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2011. 10, 432-438.
6. Jump DB, Clarke SD, Thelen A, Liimatta M: Coordinate regulation of glycolytic and lipogenic gene expression by polyunsaturated fatty acids. J Lipid Res 1994, 35:1076-1084.
7. Raclot T, Groscolas R, Langin D, Ferre P: Site-specific regulation of gene expression by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in rat white adipose tissues. J Lipid Res 1997, 38:1963-1972.
8. Ide T, Kobayashi H, Ashakumary L, Rouyer IA, Takahashi Y, Aoyama T, Hashimoto T, Mizugaki M: Comparative effects of perilla and fish oils on the activity and gene expression of fatty acid oxidation enzymes in rat liver. Biochim Biophys Acta 2000, 1485:23-35.
9. Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, Mohammed BS, Rankin D, Rennie MJ, Mittendorfer B. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinaemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women. Clin Sci (Lond). 2011 Sep;121(6):267-78. doi: 10.1042/CS20100597.