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Should Bodybuilders Be Taking Fish Oil?
What Are the Benefits

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: July 22, 2021

Time and again, we hear health enthusiasts ask about the benefits of fish oil for bodybuilding.

One thing that has been established is that fish oil supplement is excellent for general well-being.

But why is this supplement so popular among professional bodybuilders? Let’s find out!

What Are The Benefits of Fish Oil For Bodybuilding

pieces of fish oil capsules, and a shirtless man working out outdoors

There are many known benefits of fish oil, but before we go into those details below, let’s quickly talk about what it is.

Fish oil usually comes from oily fish, such as tuna, herrings, anchovies, mackerel, and cod liver oil.

It contains the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

These acids are precursors of certain eicosanoids known to reduce inflammation in the body and improve hypertriglyceridemia (the presence of high amounts of triglycerides in the blood). It is also widely used as a supplement.

The types of omega-3s found in fish oil have been found to contain more benefits than the omega-3s found in some plants.

See our list of the best fish oil supplements for bodybuilders here.

Some of the fish oil benefits for bodybuilding include:

1. Delays Onset Muscle Soreness

man showing his back and grabbing his nape

Imagine this: You’re back at the gym with your new exercise routine for muscle-building, but you start to feel stiffness or soreness when you get home that day or the next one.

Due to strenuous exercise routines, bodybuilders are likely to experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

While massages might help, a study from 2017 suggests that fish oil may help alleviate muscle soreness [1].

Another 2017 study also notes that DHA and EPA supplements might help reduce muscle cell damage after exercise and aid muscle protein synthesis [2].

2. Improves Quality Of Workouts

Those EPA and DHA fatty acids present in fish oil may help you boost your athletic performance.

In addition, during or after long and challenging workouts, the anti-inflammatory properties of these omega-3 fatty acids may protect you against the decline in strength, flexibility, and range of motion.

One 2018 study proved that men who took 2,400 milligrams (mg) of fish oil, which contained 600 mg of EPA and 260 mg of DHA, daily for eight weeks experienced minor muscle swelling than before taking any fish oil supplementation [3].

It is highly likely that fish oil also hastens muscle growth, preserves muscle mass, and improves body composition.

3. Helps Muscle Protein Synthesis

man flexing and squeezing his biceps using his hands

Omega-3 fatty acids support muscle cells protein synthesis. The question is, how?

Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fatty fish (fish oil) slow the loss of muscle mass because fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties and therefore increases the sensitivity of muscle protein synthesis to insulin and amino acids.

This is super beneficial for those who want better body composition and those who want to maintain muscle and are suitable for your lean muscle.

4. Improves Endurance

man doing a jog outdoors

If you have lower body muscle strength, problems with muscle breakdown, continue reading.

Omega-3s decrease heart rate and the amount of oxygen your body burns through every minute, which means that your body will need less energy to run that marathon you’ve been anticipating.

Take the best fish oil and achieve your muscle-building goals. Including it in the daily diet may also help with weight loss.

Other research has already shown that omega-3s are highly sought after for their cognitive support.

5. Improves Reaction Time

Reaction time dramatically improved in soccer players who used fish oil supplementation for just four weeks.

6. Helps In Maintaining Muscle

What is especially important for soccer players and other athletes is to boost muscle strength which is possible to have if you take fish oil pills or any other fish oil supplement.

7. Burns Fat Faster

woman stretching out his loose pants

Another one of fish oil benefits is helping you get rid of that body fat faster.

One of the researchers discovered that daily fish oil supplementation could significantly increase lean muscle mass and decrease fat mass in just six weeks.

Omega-3 could feed the body’s furnace and lose fat (burn fat). You should start noticing considerable changes in just eight weeks.

8. Promotes Faster Recovery

Because they are anti-inflammatory by nature, omega-3 reduces muscle degradation.

Using fish oil daily brings many health benefits such as decreased fat mass, healthy cholesterol levels, and increased glucose.

It is also used by many wellness professionals who want to prevent injuries.

9. Boosts Better Physical Performance

woman doing a seated leg stretch outdoors

One study found that omega-3 supplementation significantly decreased participants’ perceived exertion during exercises.

Or in other words, omega-3s made your difficult training feel easier.

But, even though it feels that way, the results are still the same, if not even better, because you have more strength and motivation.

Research suggests omega-3 also helps heal muscle damage, builds muscle, and promotes a healthy heart.

Heart health and general health are vital to many bodybuilders – especially older bodybuilders. They believe one of the ways to achieve both is through the use of omega-3.

10. Other Health Benefits

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most studied nutrients in the world. As previously seen, these supplements have many benefits, but just in case you’re still not sure whether to use them or not, we did more research.

As a result, we found more information about this popular dietary supplement:

  • Lowers blood triglycerides
  • Supports insulin function
  • Reduces risks of colon, prostate, and breast cancer
  • Gets rid of excess liver fat
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • ADHD - fish oil benefits children with ADHD
  • Improves fetal development

"Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can stop arrhythmia before it triggers sudden death from heart attacks. That makes fish such as salmon as potentially potent as any high-tech heart drug and considerably cheaper to stock up on." — Alexander Leaf, M.D. (deceased), Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

Fish Oil Supplements As A Better Source of Omega-3s

spoon and bowl with fish oil capsule and liquid

Fish oil is often used as a dietary supplement. In the U.S., sales reached an incredible $976 million in 2009.

However, there have been problems with quality in periodic tests done by independent researchers of marketed fish oil supplements and other marine oils.

Fish oil supplements don’t contain the same amount of fish oil as prescription products, so they cannot be used in place of prescription products.

As previously mentioned, fish oils contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) [4]. These are essential fatty acids that the body cannot make for itself. While vegetables and other plant foods may contain ALA, the body cannot use it as readily as DHA or EPA [5].

As fish is a rich dietary source of both DHA and EPA, people may consume fish to boost these omega-3 fatty acids levels.

However, those who do not consume fish regularly may consider taking different fish oil supplements.

Be Careful

medical person holding out a capsule bottle while thinking

Make sure you are getting EPA and DHA directly!

And because you’re burning through omega-3s at a faster rate than most people, make sure you test your omega-3 Index regularly [6].

Using an omega-3 Index blood test is safe, easy and convenient. And it will help you stay on track with your omega-3 regimen.

There may also be unpleasant mild side effects of fish oil use [7].

These may include unpleasant taste, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, strong-smelling sweat, or headaches.

Still Unsure Of The Benefits Of Fish Oil For Bodybuilding?

Here is a recap of the benefits of fish oil for bodybuilding and for general well-being: increased thigh muscle volume, bodybuilding benefits, better workout quality, more muscle strength, more fuel.

It’s good for our overall health as it could increase glucose, decrease degradation, and help to build muscle.

I hope I have given you a little nudge and some knowledge with my research. Fish oil may do a body good —and even more so, if you are into bodybuilding!

But, as always, anyone who is considering taking supplements should first check with a healthcare provider to ensure that it is safe.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27441600/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508798/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fish-oil-bodybuilding
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
  5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07315724.2018.1470042
  6. https://omegaquant.com/omega-3-index-basic/
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326206

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