Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

I’ll be honest, I never took fish oil supplements for my bodybuilding goals. But I have been taking them since a young age because my grandparents always said it would keep me healthy.

And while there is a ton of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart, brain, and immune health, I’ve been increasingly convinced about their role in building muscle.

But does that mean you should pick the first supplement you find?

Absolutely not.

The unfortunate reality is that too many of the cheaper options come from unsustainable sources and could even contain heavy metals.

And that’s why we’ve put this list of the best options we can find.

Our Top Fish Oils For Bodybuilding

1 - Viva Naturals Triple-Strength Omega-3 (Editor's Choice)

viva naturals

Based on the feedback from several dietitians and nutritionists, we decided to put this fish oil supplement at the top of our list.

First of all, it has a higher than normal Omega-3 dose. According to one study, this could be a contributing factor to muscle protein synthesis [1].

As for the purity, it’s good to see sustainability and wild-caught on the supplement label.

I would just mention that there is a bit of an aftertaste if you don’t take it immediately before a meal.

Amount in each serving: 2,200mg

Pros
  • Good balance of EPA and DHA may reduce inflammation
  • Claims to be not heat or chemically treated for better quality
  • Sourced from wild and sustainably caught fish
  • Low-cholesterol option for a healthy heart
Cons
  • Slight fishy aftertaste may be avoided by taking before food

2 - Dr. Tobias Omega-3

Dr Tobias thumb

With a slightly lower dose, this option should still provide a large enough amount for most men and women during a strength and fitness training program.

We liked that it seems to use a unique purification process that should eliminate a lot of the common toxins that you might find in many other supplements.

We’ve noticed recently that this seems to be one of the more popular brands among our performance sports clients.

Amount in each serving: 2,000mg

Pros
  • Sourced from non-GMO wild-caught fish
  • Claims to be purified to reduce heavy metal exposure
  • Reports of no fishy aftertaste
Cons
  • Contains some soy, which may not be suitable for some folks

3 - Optimum Nutrition Omega 3

optimum nutrition

This is another brand that is quite popular in the bodybuilding industry, and one of the main attractions is that you often get good bulk-discount bottles.

Most people we checked with said the softgels had a favorable shape making them easier to swallow without getting stuck in your throat.

It may not be the strongest Omega amount in each serving, but at this price, you could easily increase the dose.

Amount in each serving: 1,000mg

Pros
  • Uses a range of oil sources for more sustainability
  • Good value for money with bulk bottles available
  • Reports that softgels are easy to swallow
Cons
  • Not the strongest dosage available

4 - Micro Ingredients Omega-3 Fish Oil

microingredients thumb

This fish oil highlights that it has been formulated to avoid the most common allergens.

It seems to avoid the use of any kind of unnecessary fillers or additives, to avoid messing up your diet.

The strength of each serving is probably why it has become popular for performance athletes on high-intensity exercise days.

The only downside we noted is that the full dose advertised on the supplement label does require three softgels to be swallowed. However, you could spread that out if you want to avoid it all in one go.

Amount in each serving: 3,750mg

Pros
  • One of the stronger supplement doses available
  • Free from most common allergens and artificial additives
  • Claims to not cause any fishy burps
Cons
  • Full dose requires three softgels

5 - InnovixLabs Triple Strength Omega-3

innovix labs thumb

One of the benefits that stood out for us with InnovixLabs was that it has a 3rd party testing seal.

What does this mean? It is a process that regularly checks batches for toxins that may be above-recommended amounts.

With these types of purified supplements, toxins could become an issue when taken for longer periods [2].

We did find, though, that there are some indications that only some of the catch is sustainably sourced, which might increase the environmental impact.

Amount in each serving: 1,200mg

Pros
  • The softgels seem to be easy to swallow without getting stuck
  • User reviews support the claim that it doesn’t have an aftertaste
  • Comes with a third party testing seal for toxin testing
Cons
  • Not all of the oil comes from sustainable stock

6 - Nordic Naturals ProOmega

nordic naturals thumb

This omega supplement is one of the best for getting a bulk order discount with a large bottle.

The dose of each serving might not be the highest, but the price does make taking several of them more affordable.

It’s possibly the only one of these supplements that we saw where the softgels have a slight lemon taste to avoid those fishy burps.

I would just mention that if you don’t like swallowing these types of supplements, you might be able to find a single softgel option above.

Amount in each serving: 1,280mg

Pros
  • Third-party tested for common toxins
  • The softgels have a slight lemon flavor to avoid fishy aftertaste
  • Available in good bulk order bottles
Cons
  • May require two softgels for an amount that other products achieve in one

7 - Omega JYM Fish Oil Capsules

jym thumb

Another high-dose option, this one claims to be specifically formulated for the need of a typical bodybuilding athlete.

This does seem to be supported by studies that suggest it may boost energy and overall performance [3].

We noted that there were very few comments about those smelly burps that are common with these supplements, and our team does seem to agree with that after a few weeks of testing.

We did find a few reports that they were a bit tough to swallow, and women may want to reduce the dosage a bit as it’s quite strong.

Amount in each serving: 2,800mg

Pros
  • Claims to be specifically formulated for bodybuilding
  • Positive comments about the lack of fishy burps
  • Provides a high dose in each serving
Cons
  • Some users think the softgels are a bit big to swallow

8 - Nutrigold Triple Strength Omega-3 Oil

nutrigold thumb

Another product with a strong dose of Omega-3s is this Nutrigold one. The company highlights that they use a specialized processing technique that maintains a higher and more natural purity.

This might be a positive for performance athletes looking to build up some more muscle mass, but we haven’t been able to find a scientific study to support this processing technique.

The only thing I would highlight here is that we did find that it’s one of the more fishy smelling and tasting options. So make sure you take it just before eating.

Amount in each serving: 2,600mg

Pros
  • Claims to use advanced distillation for higher purity
  • Positive reviews about it being fast to absorb
  • Free of the most common allergens for fewer chances of reactions
Cons
  • They seem to be one of the stronger smelling options

9 - WHC UnoCardio 1000 Pure Triglyceride Fish Oil

whc thumb

WHC seems to have designed a product that is more geared towards women than men.

The lower dose in a single softgel should give the right nutrition amount for most female sports and fitness needs.

We also liked that it’s one of the certified products that has been sustainably caught. It’s always a good idea to minimize your environmental impact.

The reason this doesn’t feature higher up on our list is that we saw a few reviews that it may have quite a strong aftertaste.

Amount in each serving: 1,300mg

Pros
  • Sourced from sustainable fisheries for lower eco-impact
  • Requires only one softgel daily
  • Comes in a convenient flat package to make it easier for travel
Cons
  • Some reports of fishy smells and aftertaste

10 - MuscleTech Omega 3 Fish Oil

muscletech thumb

While this MuscleTech option has a below-average amount of oil in each serving, we did like that it’s independently tested for purity.

This should reduce the risks of becoming exposed to toxins through your sports supplements.

Just make sure that when you compare the prices that you keep in mind that the serving size is pretty small. For some fitness goals, especially for men, this may not be enough.

Amount in each serving: 1,000mg

Pros
  • Third-party tested for purity and toxins
  • Many reports that they are easy to swallow
  • Doesn’t seem to cause any fishy burps
Cons
  • Quite a small serving size

Fish Oil for Bodybuilding Buyer’s Guide

hand holding atm card

1 - Get The Dosage Right

As with all sports and fitness supplements, men and women will have different requirements when it comes to nutrition. And it’s no different with Omega 3.

But how much should you aim for?

For adult women, the recommended dose is 1,100mg, and for men, it’s 1,600mg [4]. However, that doesn’t factor in the added needs for nutrition if you’re bodybuilding.

Especially on the heavy exercise days, you may want to double that amount, and there are a few options above that would support that kind of intake.

2 - Aim For Organic Sources

In general, you could improve your diet and overall health by always choosing organic supplements.

Some believe it’s because of higher nutrition values.

But that’s not really the reason.

With any kind of processed and refined food that your body takes in, the processing could lead to a higher concentration of toxins. Pesticides and herbicides are very common, but when it comes to fatty acids, there’s an additional problem.

Heavy metals are commonly found in all types of marine food sources. By choosing an organic option that is independently certified and tested, you could significantly reduce your exposure.

The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish.

- WebMD.com

3 - Different Types Of Fish Oil

OK, this is going to get just a little bit technical, but it’s important to understand that there are different types of fatty acids:

Eicosapentaenoic Acid

Docosahexaenoic Acid

Don’t ask me; I have no idea how to pronounce these correctly.

For bodybuilding and a general health benefit, the body would ideally get these in a 3 to 1 ratio [5]. This happens to be the most common ratio in the supplements we recommend above.
I’ll save you from all the boring details of how lab nerds came to that ratio. But for ideal muscle function and recovery from tough workout routines, studies have shown that your body would benefit from both [6].

4 - Omega-3 vs. Omega-6

Omega-XL-Side-Effects

This is another important thing to keep in mind and a reason you shouldn’t just pick the first item you find in store in the hope it’ll improve your muscle building.

Now, your body does require both, but from a fitness and bodybuilding perspective, it’s the 3s that seem to be more important.

The reason is that they have been claimed to improve protein synthesis for both muscle recovery and bulking.

The 6s are important as well, but they mainly benefit your immunity and gene regulation. And there is some evidence that the typical Western diet is deficient in the 3s while possibly having too much of the 6s [7].

5 - Look for Added Vitamin Boosts

Overall, vitamin intake is important for everyone, but the more sports you play or fitness classes you take, the more nutrition your body needs on both the macro and micro nutrition side.

That’s why I always like to see added vitamin boosts.

One thing many folks misunderstand is that they automatically assume that omega equals vitamin boost.

In reality, though, these types of acids are often combined with added vitamin and mineral content to give the body an overall boost. 

Krill oil is good for your cardiovascular health as well as brain function. It has been shown to improve heart health and blood pressure by reducing the effects of harmful cholesterol levels in the blood.

In many of the above options, there is no added vitamin boost as they are aimed at providing a pure source of oil.

6 - Choose A Dosage For Your Training Plan

pill

The good news is that you won’t have to spend a fortune on these oils.

And even bodybuilding men who require larger doses, don’t have to aim for a maximum intake every single day.

I mentioned above that the recommended dose is 1,100mg for women and 1,600mg for men.

Those would be for days where you’re resting or just doing some light cardio exercise.

For the high-intensity and maximum performance days, you would increase the amounts by 2 to 2.5 times to try and improve muscle building and recovery.

During bulking phases, this would require a larger supply, which is why I always suggest buying one of the bulk-order bottles.

7 - Avoid Unnecessary Additives

I mentioned before that a vitamin boost is generally a positive thing. But you sometimes find additives in nutrition boosters that are not just unnecessary, but possibly harmful.

In many cases, these include fillers and preservatives, which may have a negative impact on your gut flora and digestive system [8].

Increasing attention is being paid to food additives used nowadays, with growing concerns about their safety and potential health risks.

- Dr. Liji Thomas, MD

One thing we did encounter during our research is companies that add flavors. The aim apparently is to suppress fishy burps, but they often rely on artificial additives to achieve this.

FAQs

red question mark in question mark pile

Does fish oil help muscle growth?

Yes, fish oil is known to help the muscles grow as it plays a role in muscle protein synthesis. During fitness and sports activity, the strain on muscle fibers will trigger processes that rely on protein and are supported by the fatty acid to repair and rebuild the fibers.

Should you take fish oil before or after a workout?

You should take fish oil before a workout. There is some new scientific study that would suggest that having an increased amount available in muscle cells during a workout may actually prime muscles for faster recovery.

Why do bodybuilders take fish oil?

Bodybuilders take fish oil in order to increase muscle energy, reduce soreness, and aid with the recovery and rebuilding process. It’s a relatively new diet supplement in the bodybuilding industry, but results from research and our clients show promising effects.

Do fish oil pills make you gain weight?

No, fish oil pills won’t make you gain weight as the fat and calorie amount is very low. In most cases, you wouldn’t be consuming more than 20 or 30 calories in one go. The oil and fat itself have also been linked to aiding weight loss, which is one of the reasons it’s recommended in the fitness and weight management industry.

If you have specific bodybuilding goals and want to make sure that you get all the nutrition needed to achieve those goals, then we would recommend Viva Naturals.

It’s the one option our entire team relies on, as it contains the right amount for both women and men in various stages of bulking or cutting.

If you’ve had some experience with any of these, then please post some feedback on our social media pages.

viva naturals

Viva Naturals Triple-Strength Omega-3

Our #1 Recommendation

  • Good balance of EPA and DHA may reduce inflammation
  • Claims to be not heat or chemically treated for better quality
  • Sourced from wild and sustainably caught fish
  • Low-cholesterol option for a healthy heart
Check Current Price
payment icons

Other Resources: Omega XL Review

HAVE QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

About the author