Fish Oil: The Athlete’s Secret Sauce
Sports people are constantly searching for the nutrients, supplements, and training tips that will give them a competitive advantage. In recent times, fish oil has been getting a lot of attention as a general health booster and fat loss agent. Now, many athletes are taking a look at how fish oil can make them better at what they do.
Omega-3: The Good OilWhen we talk about fish oil, we are referring to Omega-3 fatty acids. The human body needs both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, neither of which it can manufacture itself. The modern Western diet provides these two essential fats at the startling ratio of 20:1 in favor of Omega 6. That means that most people are chronically short of Omega 3 fatty acids. The reason? Omega 6 is contained in refined grains as well as in animal feed grains. The emphasis on wheat products and animal meats that has characterized our eating pattern over the last hundred years has done a good job of giving us our Omega 6 fatty acids, but an absolutely lousy job when it comes to Omega 3. This imbalance has, of itself, caused some major problems. It has caused us to be far more prone to inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases that never used to affect humans. Getting more Omega 3 fatty acids into your body will revolutionize the way your body looks, feels, and acts, especially in relation to weight loss. Here’s what upping your Omega 3 content will do for you:
- Improve your insulin sensitivity
- Help to burn fat
- Speed up your metabolism
- Depress the production of cortisol
- Give you more energy
- Help to build muscle
Fish Oil and AthletesWhile we can all gain from increasing our consumption of fish oil, athletes especially can benefit. Here are 5 ways that fish oil can improve athletic performance:
- Increased protein synthesis: Preliminary research indicates that fish oil may play a significant role in the building of new muscle tissue. It appears that, when taken in conjunction with hard training, fish oil increases the uptake of protein in the muscle cell. In one study, fish oil not only increased the concentration of protein in the muscle cell but also the size of the muscle cell.
- Increased strength: Fish oil has been shown to improve strength levels in both trained and untrained individuals. A cross-sectional study of over 3,000 people showed that increased consumption of fish oil led to a significant increase in grip strength. Numerous other studies have shown that the addition of fish oil into the diet enhances the strength gains from an exercise program.
- Reduce muscle soreness: Fish oil has the ability to reduce the amount of post exercise soreness and exercise-related muscle damage. It has been shown to reduce the production of post-inflammatory molecules. Fish oil is becoming accepted as an effective preventative in the treatment of inflammatory conditions. It is currently being used as an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Strengthens bones: Preliminary studies show that fish oils have an important role to play in strengthening bones, reducing hip fractures, and increasing bone mineral density.
- Improves cardio efficiency: Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to improve heart parameters in athletes. Diastolic blood pressure and heart rate were reduced during intense exercise in a study involving Australian Rules Rugby players. In another study, male cyclists who took fish oil lowered their heart rate, whole body oxygen consumption, and heart’s oxygen consumption when they took fish oil.
- Improves lung function: Preliminary research indicates that supplementation with omega-3 fish oil can improve lung function during exercise. It was also shown that fish oil supplementation significantly reduced the use of asthma medication among athletes with an asthmatic condition.
- Enhanced brain function: Increased cognitive functioning during exercise will reduce reaction time and allow the athlete to make better decisions in the heat of the action. Fish oil has been shown to improve brain function and cognition during exercise.