Omega fish oil is among the most common dietary supplements consumed today.
In a nutshell, this is oil that is extracted from either the livers of fish or from fish tissue. The oil is mostly derived from the pelagic species of fish i.e. fish that dwell mostly on the upper surface of the water in the sunlit regions. These fish include mackerel, tuna, salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), consuming 1-2 portions of oily fish per week is necessary to provide the body with its required dose of omega-3 and omega -5 fatty acids which are vital for good health.
Omega -3 fatty acids comprise 30 percent of fish oil while the remaining 70 percent is made up of Omega-5 fatty acids and other fats.
Unfortunately, due to the constraints of the modern economy and health concerns associated with certain fish species e.g. shellfish which contain high levels of mercury, supplementing with fish oil seem to be the most economical and safe method of obtaining the much-needed omega nutrients.
Benefits of Omega Fish Oil for Muscle Growth
Scientists and dieticians across the globe encourage bodybuilders and athletes to supplement daily with fish oil to reap the numerous benefits from the supplement.
While the positives are not overly significant, they have nonetheless been proven to improve muscle gains, enhance muscle definition and overall, make the entire process of building mass more effortless.
Omega Fish Oil Boosts Anabolic Training
Anabolic training is training that is performed to increase muscle mass. This type of training is usually very intense and requires a variety of nutrients to maintain energy throughout the exercise, repair muscle tissue and build up new muscle in the body.
In this process omega oil works as a protein synthesis agent. It helps to break down individual amino acids e.g. Glutamine and Leucine, to provide energy fast and to repair damaged muscles. It is also used to combine various amino acid units into complex proteins for new muscle formation. This entire process is known as anabolism.
Omega Oil Decreases Muscle Catabolism
Catabolism is the opposite of Anabolism. It refers to a biochemical reaction that takes place during anabolic training whereby muscle tissue is broken down to provide energy. Muscle gain occurs where anabolism in the body is greater than catabolism. The greater the difference: the greater the gains.
Fish oil minimizes catabolism in 2 ways:
- It suppresses the production of Cortisol. This is a hormone produced by the body during stress. Cortisol breaks down the amino acids in muscle into sugar for energy. During an ordinary workout devoid of supplementation, the hormone increases by up to 50%.
- It decreases the activity in the (UPP) Ubiquitin Proteasome Pathway. This is a pathway that regulates virtually all cellular processes in the body. It has been linked to significant muscle breakdown.
When EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) a.k.a; long chain Omega -3 fatty acids are ingested; the UPP activity has been observed to decrease favourably.
Omega Oil Decreases Inflammation.
Omega-3’s present in fish oil have been proven to contain anti-inflammation properties. When ingested, they reduce the production of prostaglandins, a.k.a inflammation hormones while at the same time support the production of anti-inflammation hormones. Omega-3 has also been proven to have a significant effect in reducing muscle stiffness and providing relief from joint pain which can be as a result of a strenuous workout.
Fish Oil Strengthens Bones
According to researchers; Omega-3 fatty acids increase the absorption of Calcium minerals by the bones, supports healthy joints and mediates bone growth. Strong bones are important in maintaining a tight grip especially when performing anabolic training.
Cons of Fish Oil
While it is true fish oil offers tremendous benefits to bodybuilders, the supplement has a few associated risks.
- Unconfirmed Benefits
While consuming both long chain (EPA) and short chain (DHA) Omega-3 fatty acids has been proven to be beneficial to the human system, it is difficult to know for sure if you’re getting the right quantities that your body needs through supplementation. Companies producing fish oil supplements are not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
LabDoor, a research company, performed tests on the 30 top grossing fish oil supplements by comparing the contents with the claims made on the labels. Their investigation revealed that a significant number of fish oil supplements contained negative inconsistencies with some containing up to 30% less nutrients.
- Potentially Rancid
Due to the high volatility of the Omega-3 and Omega-5 fatty acids, fish oil tends to spoil i.e. turn rancid, in a very short span of time. What’s even worse is that free radicals form when fish oil becomes rancid.
Free radicals are the agents responsible for rapid aging and disease. This means the consumption of rancid fish oil supplements is not only undesirable but unhealthy. Rancid fish oils have also been shown to negatively affect cholesterol levels when consumed.
- Adverse Reaction
Taking fish oil supplements for fat loss, bodybuilding or muscle growth can leave an unsavoury fish taste in the mouth. The supplement also causes bouts of nausea and stomach upsets in some people, though this number is quite small.
Fish oil has also been proven to possess anti-clotting properties. Users taking blood-thinners are thus advised to seek professional advice before supplementing with fish oil.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), users are supposed to take anywhere between 200 and 500mg of oil with a combination of DHA and EPA Omega fatty acids. There are no restrictions on the form of the oil e.g. free fatty acids, triglycerides, ethyl esters, phospholipids etc.
It’s important to note though that ethyl esters are absorbed at a much slower rate, so they are best avoided. Read the packaging and select other labels for fast absorption.
The FDA recommends not exceeding 300mg per day of oil with a combination of both DHA and EPA.
Can You Overdose?
With fish oil the side effects of an overdose are minor and temporary. Should you consume more than 10 times the recommended FDA dosage (an amount considered considerably high) you may experience indigestion, a bloated feeling or just general body discomfort. There are no “real” adverse side effects.
Please note, the body has an absorption limit and exceeding the recommended dosage will yield no additional benefits.
Trying Omega Fish Oil for the First Time
If you’ve never supplemented with Omega fish oil but are considering doing so it’s important to first consult with your physician especially if you’re on blood thinning medication to avoid incurring any debilitating side effects. Also ask your physician to perform allergy tests to rule out an allergic reaction to fish oil.
Once cleared, you can start by supplementing with 300-500mg of oil containing a combination of DHA and EPA Omega fatty acids.
For maximum results take the supplement with food that contain fat since fat aids in the absorption of the Omega fatty acids.
With time you should notice improved cognitive ability, reduced inflammation, improved vision etc, among other benefits listed above for users looking to grow their muscle and build their mass.