Omega 3 is a specific type of fatty acid now known as a ‘superfat”.
Omega 3 contains two specific fatty acids known as Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic (DHA) which elicit some very impressive benefits. It should be included as one of your top go-to supplements whether you are trying to improve health, drop body fat or add muscle!
Here are 3 reasons you need to start consuming more Omega 3.
1. Heart Health & Cardiovascular Disease
One of the most powerful and research-proven benefits of omega 3 is vital to maintaining heart and cardiovascular health. From improving cholesterol ratios to lowering blood triglyceride levels, omega 3 can help.
One study recruited 30 subjects and split them into 3 groups, providing them with either:
- 14 grams of safflower,
- 7 grams of safflower and 7 grams of Omega 3
- 14 grams of Omega 3
After the supplementation period they witnessed a decrease in inflammation measured by 2 markers in the blood called C-reactive Proteins, IL-6 and blood triacylglycerol (TG) levels. All of these positive changes occurred to a greater extent in the omega 3 group compared to the mixed and safflower groups (Ciubotaru et al., 2003).
Several other studies have confirmed these findings, showing improvements in heart disease risk factors (Oliveira et al., 2011; Bernstein et al., 2012).
Inflammation is one of the most serious diseases in modern day life. Closely linked to almost every disease imaginable, inflammation plays an underlying role within your cells causing damage all over the body and linked to most serious diseases.
Along with the risk of disease, chronic inflammation can lead to impaired recovery from exercise, increased soreness, injury, joint pain and a decreased ability to build muscle.
Sadly, inflammation is primarily caused by a host of poor lifestyle issues and an unhealthy diet. The good news is, of course you can alter the outcome by improving your diet and becoming healthier.
Omega 6 is another form of fat which is often consumed in excess. This leads to an unhealthy ratio of omega 6 to 3 and can increase inflammation and ill-health. Omega 3 is of real importance as it helps to balance the high amount of omega 6 fats we normally consume.
As discussed above, the study replacing safflower oil for omega 3 found improvements in 2 of the key inflammatory markers, C-reactive Proteins, IL-6 (Ciubotaru et al., 2003).
Other research had 50 participants who used 2 grams of Omega 3 supplements per day for 12 weeks. They found around a 10% improvement in markers of inflammation, which is fairly significant. (Rizza et al., 2009).
3. Weight Loss, Blood Sugar and Insulin Sensitivity
Along with losing fat and getting lean, improving blood glucose and insulin sensitivity is absolutely key for long-term muscle building and physique efforts.
Blood sugar and insulin are also two markers used in the medical world to assess general health and wellbeing, however they may be even more important for an athlete who also wants to optimize their physique.
One study tested omega 3 in an obese population trying to lose body fat. The study found that it increased ketone bodies, which may highlight improvements in fat oxidation or fat burning capabilities, in addition to a 24% greater weight loss than in the placebo group (Kunesova et al., 2006).
Another study found these benefits extended into fat loss, with the omega 3 group losing more weight than the control group (Kabir et al., 2007).
Of course, this must be combined with a good exercise and a consistent diet routine; although the addition of omega 3 could help you lose extra body fat while improving markers of carbohydrate metabolism.
Omega 3 Sources
There are only a few high quality sources of omega 3 fats available from whole foods, which is one reason why many people fall back to fish oil supplementation.
The best food sources include:
- All types of oily fish,
- Omega 3 Eggs,
- Chia Seeds,
Two servings of these food sources per day should provide around 2 grams of EPA and DHA. While it is of course important to focus on these food groups, daily supplementation may be a more sustainable option over the long term to ensure are daily intakes are met.
Ciubotaru, I., Lee, Y. S., & Wander, R. C. (2003). Dietary fish oil decreases C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and triacylglycerol to HDL-cholesterol ratio in postmenopausal women on HRT. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 14(9), 513-521.
Oliveira, J. M., & Rondó, P. H. (2011). Omega-3 fatty acids and hypertriglyceridemia in HIV-infected subjects on antiretroviral therapy: systematic review and meta-analysis. HIV clinical trials, 12(5), 268-274.
Bernstein, A. M., Ding, E. L., Willett, W. C., & Rimm, E. B. (2012). A meta-analysis shows that docosahexaenoic acid from algal oil reduces serum triglycerides and increases HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in persons without coronary heart disease. The Journal of nutrition, 142(1), 99-104.
Rizza, S., Tesauro, M., Cardillo, C., Galli, A., Iantorno, M., Gigli, F., ... & Lauro, D. (2009). Fish oil supplementation improves endothelial function in normoglycemic offspring of patients with type 2 diabetes. Atherosclerosis, 206(2), 569-574.
Kabir, M., Skurnik, G., Naour, N., Pechtner, V., Meugnier, E., Rome, S., ... & Guerre-Millo, M. (2007). Treatment for 2 mo with n− 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces adiposity and some atherogenic factors but does not improve insulin sensitivity in women with type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled study. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86(6), 1670-1679.
Kunesova, M., Braunerova, R., Hlavatý, P., & Tvrzicka, E. (2006). The influence of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and very low calorie diet during a short-term weight reducing regimen on weight loss and serum fatty acid composition in severely obese women. Physiological research, 55(1), 63.