Ah the good ‘ol fish oil. Everyone has heard of it, but few have considered using it as a performance supplement. It is talked about on TV as providing a wide variety of health benefits, from helping to support healthy cholesterol levels to bone density (your mom would probably highly recommend it), but many do not know that the omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) in fish oil can also work wonders for bodies undergoing intense training (may it be weightlifting, CrossFit, HIIT, etc). Lets dive into the deep blue and see why you should reel in a bottle for yourself!
Ok, so I got you hooked (last fish pun, I swear), lets get the easy stuff out of the way first. What is fish oil? Fish oil is a fatty acid that comes from oily fish (you don’t say). What makes this stuff great is that it contains omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA. Research has suggested that consuming a high amount of omega-3 (through a normal diet or supplementation) helps to support : 1) a healthy cholesterol level (balancing that HDL to LDL), 2) healthy bones (make sure you get the calcium too), and 3) a better mood (supporting those serotonin levels). But that’s not all, experts are now suggesting that EPA & DHA have specific benefits for high-intensity trainers as well.
First order of business. You train hard, we all do. High-intensity training in particular causes an increase in inflammation and oxidation in the body. Emerging studies suggest that EPA and DHA have unique anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that would help offset these responses from the body. Net: reduced inflammation and oxidation means improved exercise recovery.
Build and Protect Muscles
Math Time. Muscle Mass = Muscle Synthesis – Muscle Degradation. Emerging studies suggest, EPA and DHA supplementation may support muscle protein synthesis AND stunt degradation. Since fish oil can intensify protein synthesis, it likely works synergistically with BCAAs and whey protein. Net: more muscle growth, with less breakdown, means more muscle.
Increase Nutrient Uptake
Push those nutrients to the muscles. Supporting your body’s insulin function helps to increase glucose and fatty acid uptake into your muscles. EPA and DHA are now being suggested as a means to help control and support this bodily function, possibly helping to rejuvenate your muscles and provide more fuel for your workouts. Net: more nutrients in the muscles, means better workouts and better results.
How much do I need?
In order to fully experience the benefits of EPA and DHA, make sure you consume 2-4g of EPA & DHA combined per day (remember this can come from a normal diet and supplementation). Similar to other supplements, taking fish oil with a meal may help absorption and may help reduce the accompanying fish oil burps. When looking for fish oil supplements, there’s a few considerations to watch out for: 1) always measure your intake by the total amount of EPA & DHA contained in the supplement (it will always be lower that the total amount of fish oil listed on the front of the package), 2) make sure the ratio of EPA & DHA is high as a percent of the total fat in the supplement (EPA & DHA is good fat, but we don’t need any extra), 3) watch out for supplements that skimp on the DHA (while its hard to find a 50/50 ratio, it should be as close as possible).
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