If you’ve been CrossFitting for a while and you’re wondering if you should look into supplementing with fish oil, look no further. Fish oil has many benefits. The one you may be the most interested in is that it can help improve your performance.
The main reason fish oil has many benefits is that it contains the omega-3 fatty acids the body needs. The human body cannot produce its own omega-3 nor can it make it from the omega-6 that is consumed.
Fish Oil Benefits For Athletes
There are many benefits to taking in fish oil. The three main ones we’ll discuss are below:
Reduces inflammation in your body
Exercise itself can reduce inflammation but it can also help contribute to it. Overtraining can contribute to muscles becoming inflamed. The signal is the soreness you feel the next day. When you exercise too intensely for too long and don’t give your body the proper recovery it needs, it responds with chronic inflammation. This is something you don’t want because it can mean an injury waiting to happen.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil works against the inflammatory response by preventing the production of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules. What does that mean to you? It means it not only helps your body recover better, but it also helps your body prevent illnesses associated with inflammation.
Reduces soreness from your WOD
Ever heard of DOMS? Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness usually occurs in the first 24 hours after exercise and peaks within the 24hr to 72hr window. Depending on the severity of the soreness, it can last a few days before you feel “normal” again.
Fish oil helps reduce muscle soreness associated with intense exercise. You might still feel sore but it won’t be as intense.
Helps you lose fat and build muscle
For those of you who are looking to get lean and build muscle while improving performance, fish oil is a natural way to do that without taking OTC pills that may be dangerous. Fish oil has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity. That means the foods you eat are not stored as fat. When food is not stored as fat, it is the first thing the body uses for energy.
Since fish oil has been shown to decrease cortisol in studies, it is inferred that it increases muscle mass.
Food or Supplement
The two ways you can take in this essential oil is by either eating fish or taking pills.
If you go the natural route, the types of fish that have the highest omega-3 fatty acids content are salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, and tuna. When buying these, make sure you’re buying “wild caught” and not “farmed raised”.
What’s the difference?
Wild caught fish are just what they’re labeled – caught from the ocean. These are highest in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. They are also lower in antibiotics, pesticides and other junk you don’t want to eat.
The way the fish is cooked also matters. Broiled or baked fish maintains its healthy level of fish oil. Fried fish overcooks the fish oil out so it basically cancels out any benefits the fish may otherwise have had.
Farmed raised fish are “grown” in tanks and controlled pens. They’re usually confined in lakes, ponds, and rivers. Because their environment is compact, these fish tend to contract diseases and toxins. To prevent this, the farmers need to feed them antibiotics. And that means you’re eating it too.
How to choose the best fish oil supplement
If you hate the thought of eating fish or find that buying wild caught is too expensive, try supplementing. But be aware that if you do, don’t go for the cheapest you can get.
Not all fish oil supplements are created equal. You want to go with a reputable company that makes good quality fish oil supplements. And sometimes that means paying a little more.
The news recently called out two large companies that were selling supplements at a cheap price. It was discovered that the supplements had more fillers and other unnatural stuff than what the front of the label claimed. Lesson? Cheaper is not always good for you.
When reading the fish oil label, you may notice that it is Vitamin E. That’s only to prevent it from spoiling. You may also see that the supplement contains calcium, iron, or Vitamins A, B’s, C, or D. Those are OK to get. What you don’t want to see is a long list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
The fish oil supplements that are superior in bioavailability are those that are in triglyceride form. The ethyl ester kind are not well absorbed by the body. You may spend a little more but it’s money well spent.
How much should you take
It is recommended you take 1,000 milligrams a day. The supplement’s omega-3 fatty acids should be from EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Whether you’re going the natural food or supplement route, make sure you’re getting good quality. As evidenced by the two big companies that were caught selling “placebo” supplements, going for cheap may not be a good investment.