FISH OIL FOR BODYBUILDING: DOES FISH OIL BUILD MUSCLE?
I’ve said it for years…
Anyone who wants to maximize their muscle gains, burn fat and improve their overall health should be supplementing with high quality fish oil every day.
Fish oil contains the extremely valuable omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which produce a nearly endless list of benefits related both to body composition and health.
While I could go on and on about fish oil’s beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, immune system and on improving blood pressure and cholesterol, today’s article focuses specifically on the subject of fish oil for bodybuilding.
Should you use fish oil for bodybuilding specific purposes? Does fish oil build muscle?
Based on the research, it does appear that fish oil may have some direct positive effects on your ability to build muscle at the fastest possible rate.
While the effects are not likely to be anything overly significant, they are still very interesting when taken into consideration alongside fish oil’s lengthy list of overall health benefits…
Fish Oil For Bodybuilding: 3 Benefits
1) Fish oil appears to increase muscle anabolism.
Recent research at the Washington University School of Medicine has shown that fish oil is actually an anabolic substance.
When a group of 25-45 year olds were given 4 grams of fish oil daily, the researchers found a significant increase in muscle protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process where cells combine individual amino acids to build complete proteins. Since proteins are the fundamental building blocks of muscle tissue, this is pretty damn important.
They also found a notable increase in both the mTOR and p70S6K pathways, which are key signalling pathways that control muscle cell growth.
2) Fish oil decreases muscle catabolism.
Not only does fish oil help you build new muscle tissue faster, but it also helps you preserve your existing gains.
Your muscles are constantly undergoing a process of both anabolism (muscle growth) and catabolism (muscle breakdown).
Your net muscle gains are determined by taking the total amount of anabolism and subtracting the total amount of catabolism. Minimize muscle catabolism and you maximize your overall muscle gains.
Fish oil suppresses muscle catabolism in 2 main ways…
The first is by lowering cortisol levels. Cortisol is a powerful catabolic hormone that breaks down muscle tissue for use as energy.
The second is by decreasing the activity of the “ubiquitin-proteasome system”. This system is the main cause of muscle breakdown, but is suppressed when EPA intake increases.
3) Fish oil decreases inflammation.
Reducing inflammation after training sessions helps you enhance muscle recovery and overall growth. Scientists at Harvard Medical School found that DHA (one of the two key components of fish oil) signals the release of nitric oxide in blood vessels.
Nitric oxide prevents white blood cells from sticking to blood vessels, which reduces inflammation.
Not only does a reduction in inflammation improve muscle recovery, but it also has beneficial effects on your joints and connective tissues. Since intense weight training places a lot of stress on these structures, fish oil may be an important supplement in preventing injuries and managing existing training induced aches and pains.
How much fish oil should you supplement with daily to obtain these benefits?
The main thing to keep in mind is that it’s not the overall amount of raw fish oil that’s important; it’s the specific amount of EPA and DHA that matters. These are the 2 key components of fish oil that produce all of the benefits we just talked about.
While there’s no absolute guideline set in stone, a good figure to shoot for is about 2-3 grams daily of combined EPA and DHA. This will usually equate to around 4-8 grams of total fish oil daily depending on which specific product you’re using.
If you are interested in using fish oil for bodybuilding and overall health purposes, my suggestion is to check out Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega. (Please note that I’m not affiliated with this specific brand; this is simply the product I personally use and recommend)
I recommend this specific brand because it delivers a high quality source of fish oil in its natural triglyceride form. Most popular fish oils are delivered in ethyl ester form, which is only 30% as absorbable as the triglyceride version.
This product also provides a high potency dose of EPA and DHA, which are the specific compounds responsible for the benefits that fish oil provides. (You get 550mg per softgel in comparison to the 300mg that many other popular products deliver)
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