Should You Take Fish Oil for Building Strength, Endurance or CrossFit?

Thinking of using fish oil for CrossFit, Strength or Endurance? But, will it help you achieve your desired goals? Read this post till the end to find out!

Lifting heavy weights isn't the only way crossfitters or fitness enthusiastic use to achieve their muscle-building goals. They make many changes in their diet, including adding healthy food items and supplements that speed up muscle-building. One such supplement that crossfitters or fitness enthusiastic  use is fish oil (1).

If you're considering fish oil as a supplement, then here is a detailed guide on fish oil's potential benefits and risks.

Benefits of Fish Oil for Strength, Endurance or CrossFit.

Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a useful supplement for bodybuilders. Here are some of the benefits of fish oil for bodybuilding:

1.    Effective for Muscle Soreness

Muscle soreness is a common problem that fitness enthusiastic and crossfitters have to face after exercise. Some people feel that their muscles become sore and stiff after 12-72 hours of hard exercise. It's called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), when your muscles become inflamed (2).

When your body is in the DOMS state, the workout stamina and performance decrease. Massage is a way to get rid of inflammation and DOMS, but fish oil can also be used for this purpose due to its anti-inflammatory properties (3). Studies on fish oil supplementations have confirmed that it helped deal with DOMS symptoms in both males and females (4).

2.    Improves Workout Quality

Studies say that the DHA and EPA present in the fish oil may improve workout quality by enhancing your performance. This is due to the anti-inflammatory properties of these omega-3 fatty acids that provide strength and flexibility during the workout.

As per a 2019 study, some men following an energy-restricted diet consumed 4,000 mg of fish oil, which provided 2,000 mg of DHA and EPA. The results showed that they improved their lower body muscle strength. Moreover, these fatty acids help them maintain their muscle strength (5).

Should You Take Fish Oil for crossfit

3.    Prevents Age-Related Muscle Loss

As you age, you naturally lose muscle mass, which is known as sarcopenia in medical terms. Once you hit 30, you lose 0.1-0.5% of your muscle mass every year, and the percentage increases even more after 65 years of age (6).

 

A study was done in 2015 that showed the effectiveness of PUFAs in slowing down the natural loss of muscle mass and function due to aging. It was seen that fish oil was useful for preventing sarcopenia and ensuring physical independence in aged individuals (7).

Another study on the effectiveness of fish oil for bodybuilding showed that EPA and DHA are beneficial for promoting the synthesis of new muscle proteins in older adults (8).

However, these studies entail the benefits of fish oil supplements for older bodybuilders. More research is required to understand the role of fish oil in building and maintaining muscles.

Risks Associated with Fish Oil Supplementation

You can't start taking any supplements just because it's natural and popular. You have to do thorough research before using it. Finding out the supplement's benefits isn't enough; you also have to look at the risks associated with that particular supplement.

Some risks are associated with fish oil supplementation. The higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood may cause prostate cancer in men (9). You’ll have to face some side effects too by consuming fish oil supplements, and these include:

  • Bad breath
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Unpleasant taste
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Strong smelling sweat

Should You Use Fish Oil as a Supplement?

DOMS after training is delaying your recovery and performance, and fish oil is beneficial for reducing the symptoms. The effectiveness of fish oil for building strength and endurance isn't understood completely yet. So, starting fish oil supplements is entirely up to you, depending on your body condition. Generally, fish oil is beneficial as it significantly improves your heart health (10).

If you plan to take fish oil supplements, considering the dosage is essential. You shouldn't intake too many omega-3s as they can create many health issues. According to most studies, the recommended dose is between 1000-5000 mg. However, as per European Food Safety and Authority, the combined dosage of EPA and DHA shouldn't exceed 5000 mg (11).

You can begin a fish oil supplement at a low dose to avoid the side effects. If no side effect appears, you can increase the dose gradually to get the benefits.

Bottom Line

Fish oil is a popular supplement used by fitness enthusiastic and crossfitters due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to treat the muscles soreness that occurs after an excessive workout. With benefits, there are some side effects too of taking fish oil supplements. Therefore, it's recommended to keep the dose low initially and then move on to a higher dose if you don't feel any side effects!

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29494205/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30537791/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508798/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27441600/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6652803/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5957062/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4480667/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5425117/
  9. https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/105/15/1132/926341?login=true
  10. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
  11. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2903/j.efsa.2012.2815