10 Benefits of Fish Oil for Bodybuilding (From a Dietitian)

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD
Published by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD | Medical Doctor
Last updated: December 16, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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As an experienced medical doctor with patients deeply invested in bodybuilding, I've consistently observed the impactful benefits of fish oil supplements in their fitness journey.

Recognizing its significant role, I've decided to share my insights through this article. Here, I'll unveil 10 key benefits of fish oil that not only enhance muscle growth and recovery but also contribute to overall health, making it a valuable addition to any bodybuilder's regimen.

This piece is a blend of my professional observations and the latest scientific research, aimed at enhancing the bodybuilding journey of my readers.

Quick Summary

  • The benefits of fish oil for bodybuilding include delaying the onset of muscle soreness, improving the quality of workouts, helping muscle protein synthesis, and improving endurance.
  • Fish oil also gets rid of excessive liver fat, supports insulin function, and reduces depression and anxiety symptoms.
  • A study published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition asserts that DHA and EPA supplements might help reduce muscle cell damage after exercise and aid muscle protein synthesis.
  • Based on my experience, incorporating high-quality fish oil supplements can be a game-changer for those seeking improved physical performance and health.

What Are The Benefits of Fish Oil For Bodybuilding

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

The benefits of fish oil for bodybuilding include delaying the onset of muscle soreness, improving the quality of workouts, helping muscle protein synthesis, and improving endurance.

Fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, is known to reduce inflammation and improve hypertriglyceridemia.

In my medical practice, I've observed its widespread use as a supplement due to these benefits.

Notably, the omega-3s in fish oil are often more beneficial than those found in plant sources.

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

Bodybuilders often experience DOMS due to intense workouts. In my medical practice, I've found that fish oil, supported by a 2017 Journal of Dietary Supplements study, effectively reduces muscle soreness [1].

Furthermore, a 2017 study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that DHA and EPA supplements can lessen muscle cell damage and enhance protein synthesis post-exercise, which aligns with the improvements observed in my patients [2].

2. Improves Quality Of Workouts

EPA and DHA fatty acids in fish oil can enhance athletic performance, as I've seen in my medical practice where patients report improved strength and endurance after incorporating these omega-3s into their diets.

Their anti-inflammatory properties are particularly beneficial post-workout, helping maintain strength, flexibility, and range of motion.

One 2018 study published by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition proved that the supplementation of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in fish oil has a positive effect on muscle performance and recovery [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, particularly from fish oil, play a crucial role in muscle growth and recovery by supporting protein synthesis and influencing hormonal balance, including testosterone and cortisol levels.

In my experience as a medical doctor, patients who include long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in their diet often see a slower loss of muscle mass, thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil, which also enhance muscle protein synthesis sensitivity to insulin and amino acids.

This is particularly beneficial for individuals aiming for better body composition and those seeking to maintain lean muscle.

4. Improves Endurance

man doing a jog outdoors

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.

5. Improves Reaction Time

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

This improvement could also be attributed to omega-3's benefits for mental health and focus, crucial for athletes' training and performance.

6. Helps In Maintaining Muscle

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

Moreover, fish oil's potential in maintaining skin health can be an added advantage for bodybuilders concerned about their physical appearance.

7. Burns Fat Faster

woman stretching out his loose pants

Fish oil can accelerate fat loss while increasing lean muscle mass.

In my medical practice, I've observed patients who supplement with fish oil daily often experience a significant reduction in body fat and an increase in lean muscle within six weeks.

Omega-3 fatty acids act as a catalyst for fat burning, leading to noticeable body composition changes in as little as eight weeks.

8. Promotes Faster Recovery

Omega-3 fatty acids, known for their anti-inflammatory properties, help reduce muscle degradation.

In my medical practice, I've seen that daily fish oil use not only decreases fat mass and maintains healthy cholesterol levels but also aids in regulating glucose.

Additionally, many wellness professionals use it as a preventive measure against injuries.

9. Boosts Better Physical Performance

woman doing a seated leg stretch outdoors

Omega-3 supplementation can reduce perceived exertion during exercise, making challenging workouts feel easier.

In my medical practice, I've observed that patients taking omega-3s not only find their training more manageable but often achieve equal or better results due to increased strength and motivation.

Additionally, omega-3s aid in muscle repair, muscle building, and promoting heart health, which is particularly important for bodybuilders, especially those who are older.

They often use omega-3s as a strategy to maintain both heart and general health.

10. Other Health Benefits

Here are other health benefits of fish oil.

  • 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

Additionally, their role in improving sleep quality can further aid in muscle recovery and overall health.

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

spoon and bowl with fish oil capsule and liquid

Independent tests have occasionally found quality issues in marketed fish oil supplements, which differ from prescription products in their fish oil content and cannot replace them.

As the National Institutes of Health reports highlight, fish oils are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), essential fats the body can't produce on its own [4].

While plant foods may offer ALA, it's not as readily usable by the body as DHA or EPA from fish. Therefore, regular fish consumption is recommended for boosting omega-3 levels. For those who don't frequently eat fish, various fish oil supplements can be a viable alternative.

Be Careful

medical person holding out a capsule bottle while thinking

Make sure you are getting EPA and DHA directly.

However, be aware of potential mild side effects of fish oil use, such as unpleasant taste, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, strong-smelling sweat, or headaches, as reported by Medical News Today [5].


References:

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19390211.2016.1205701
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1186/s12970-017-0176-9
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07315724.2018.1470042
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326206
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About The Author

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
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