Fish oil as a gym supplement

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil can be consumed by eating fish or taking fish oil supplements. Fish oil is extracted from the tissue of certain fish that are rich in the beneficial oils known as omega-3 fatty acids which include tuna, herring, salmon cod liver and blubber from whales and seals (1).

Dosage

If you decide to use fish oil supplementation, the recommended amount for bodybuilders is 2,000–3,000 mg per day of EPA and DHA.

However, due to the types of fish and processing methods being used for the supplements, the EPA and DHA contents vary. Ensure that you read and understand the nutrition label and serving size carefully.

According to the European Food Safety Authority, EPA and DHA supplements are generally well-tolerated and can be safely taken at combined doses of up to 5,000 mg daily (2).

Possible Benefits for Bodybuilders

Studies have also found that fish oil supplementation supports in maintaining muscle strength whilst on a calorie deficit, which may be important during a cutting diet. However, additional research is needed to support this hypothesis (3,4).

For gym goers across the globe, fish oil supplementation is extremely popular because of the anti-inflammatory properties, which can benefit in exercise recovery (5).

Improvements in Recovery

It is common for people to experience delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) 12-72 hours following a particularly strenuous gym session. This is when you experience aches and soreness in your muscles which could be caused by muscle cell inflammation. DOMS can have a negative impact on exercise performance and motivation (6).

Whilst techniques such as sports massages and foam rolling reduce the impact of DOMS, fish oil can also reduce inflammation after resistance exercise.

Combating muscle decline

As you age you progressively lose muscle mass. Once you hit ~30 years old your muscle mass declines by around 0.1-0.5% each year, then at ~65 years old your muscle mass declines further (7). Additionally, because of the decreased response to protein intake and resistance training due to age, its increasingly difficult to maintain and build muscle mass.

Studies have shown that fish oil supplementation, specifically their anti-inflammatory properties could improve your muscle sensitivity to protein and resistance training, which in turn will support the maintenance and growth of muscle mass during aging. However, research is still somewhat limited, so future research is needed (8, 9).

Summary

Fish Oil is high in the Omega-3 Fats DHA and EPA, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
The recommended amount for bodybuilders is 2,000–3,000 mg per day of EPA and DHA.
It may have numerous benefits for gym goers, such as a reducing in DOMS and muscle soreness.
The can enhance other health factors, improving your heart and blood health.
It is a relatively safe supplement to consume.

References

1. Ghasemi Fard, S., Wang, F., Sinclair, A. J., Elliott, G., & Turchini, G. M. (2019). How does high DHA fish oil affect health? A systematic review of evidence. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 59(11), 1684-1727.
2. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). (2012). Scientific opinion on the tolerable upper intake level of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA). EFSA Journal, 10(7), 2815.
3. Ochi, E., Yanagimoto, K., Morishima, T., & Tsuchiya, Y. (2019). Eicosapentaenoic acid-rich fish oil supplementation inhibits the decrease in concentric work output and muscle swelling of the elbow flexors. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 38(2), 125-131.
4. Ochi, E., Tsuchiya, Y., & Yanagimoto, K. (2017). Effect of eicosapentaenoic acids-rich fish oil supplementation on motor nerve function after eccentric contractions. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(1), 1-8.
5. Hotfiel, T., Freiwald, J., Hoppe, M. W., Lutter, C., Forst, R., Grim, C., ... & Heiss, R. (2018). Advances in delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS): Part I: Pathogenesis and diagnostics. Sportverletzung· Sportschaden, 32(04), 243-250.
6. Kargarfard, M., Lam, E. T., Shariat, A., Shaw, I., Shaw, B. S., & Tamrin, S. B. (2016). Efficacy of massage on muscle soreness, perceived recovery, physiological restoration and physical performance in male bodybuilders. Journal of sports sciences, 34(10), 959-965.
7. Liguori, I., Russo, G., Aran, L., Bulli, G., Curcio, F., Della-Morte, D., ... & Abete, P. (2018). Sarcopenia: assessment of disease burden and strategies to improve outcomes. Clinical interventions in aging, 13, 913.
8. Smith, G. I., Julliand, S., Reeds, D. N., Sinacore, D. R., Klein, S., & Mittendorfer, B. (2015). Fish oil–derived n− 3 PUFA therapy increases muscle mass and function in healthy older adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 102(1), 115-122.
9. Rodacki, C. L., Rodacki, A. L., Pereira, G., Naliwaiko, K., Coelho, I., Pequito, D., & Fernandes, L. C. (2012). Fish-oil supplementation enhances the effects of strength training in elderly women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 95(2), 428-436.