Many studies have proven the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for good health. New scientific data shows that omega-3s can also improve athletic performance, muscle recovery, exercise efficiency, and muscle gain!
Health benefits of omega-3s
Above all, omega-3s can reduce inflammation. Hence, omega-3s may help lower risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, high blood pressure, dry eye disease, and arthritis.
Also, omega-3s regulate glucose tolerance, nervous system development and its functions. Therefore, they can help athletes boost their performance!
Does omega-3s help build muscle mass?
Omega-3s supplementation is good for bodybuilding, as they increase protein synthesis, decrease muscle soreness after workouts, and promote faster muscle recovery!
Moreover, omega-3s are good for any sport. Research has shown that athletes should take omega-3 supplements to fight exercise-induced inflammation, improve exercise efficiency, enhance recovery from exercise, or even assist in injury prevention during intense training. Therefore, omega-3s can improve health of muscle and help muscle use energy more efficiently.
Firstly, adequate amounts of omega-3s can help your muscles recover faster, after intense workouts, as omega-3s can decrease inflammation and exercise-induced oxidative stress.
Intensive training significantly increases inflammatory markers in muscles. Eating foods high in antioxidants and foods that fight oxidative stress, such as omega-3s is vital for faster recovery.
Furthermore, high omega-3 intake is vital for bodybuilding. It seems that omega-3s can increase muscle protein synthesis! Both in young and older men and women.
According to a 2011 study of the Washington University School of Medicine, a daily dose of 4g of omega-3s helped people build muscle mass in just 2 months. Hence, omega-3s have anabolic properties in healthy young and older adults.
Furthermore, another study of the Saint Louis University showed that omega-3 supplementation can decrease post-exercise muscle soreness and damage! Due to omega-3s’ powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists proved that a daily dose of 3g of omega-3s can reduce exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness by 15%.
Both experienced bodybuilding athletes and amateurs who just started working out can benefit from omega-3 intake. Either directly from food or supplements.
Elite athletes can also benefit from omega-3 supplementation. According to a 2018, published on the European Journal of Sport Science, professional rugby players benefited from taking 551 mg EPA and 551 mg DHA twice daily. After 3 weeks, athletes observed reduced muscle soreness and damage, along with improved athletic performance.
Furthermore, it seems that omega-3s improve athletic performance because they improve insulin sensitivity, and also help muscle cells to metabolize necessary nutrients, such as glucose and amino acids more easily.
Therefore, besides high-protein foods, eating foods high in omega-3s is good for building muscle mass. For instance, hemp protein and chia seeds are great foods for building muscle mass. They’re particularly high in protein and omega-3s!
Are omega-3s good for cardio workouts?
High intake of omega-3s is good for runners, as well. Studies have shown that omega-3s may improve endurance performance and increase VO2-max. Moreover, omega-3s may decrease submaximal heart rate, peak heart rate, and also decrease body oxygen consumption during exercise!
Exercise stresses the body. It makes the cardiovascular system, lungs and the nervous system to work much harder. For instance, exercise makes the body to provide muscle more than 80% of the total blood flow. At rest, muscle needs only 20%.
Moreover, during exercise the body produces high amounts of free radicals. If muscle doesn’t contain enough antioxidants, we’ll experience fatigue and muscle inflammation.
Furthermore, according to a 2015 studies published on the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, supplementation with DHA & EPA delayed fatigue and improved neuromuscular function and total exercise performance in well-trained athletes.
Besides bodybuilders or fitness athletes, endurance athletes can benefit from omega-3 supplementation, as well. According to a 2015 study published on the European journal of sport science, a dose of 1.3g of omega-3s twice a day for 3 weeks increased VO2-max and total exercise performance in elite cyclist.
Furthermore, omega-3s are beneficial for athletes, as omega-3s can decrease:
- submaximal heart rate,
- peak heart rate,
- body oxygen consumption during exercise,
- resting heart rate,
- diastolic blood pressure.
Omega-3s protect athletes from infections
Another reason for consuming foods high in omega-3s or omega-3 supplements is because omega-3s have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. For instance, omega-3s seem beneficial against “sport asthma”. Asthma is pretty common among long-distance athletes, due to high volume of ventilation of dry air. Sports such as skiing, running, cycling, or swimming can increase the risk of development of upper respiratory tract infections.
Fortunately, studies have shown that omega-3 supplements can reduce bronchial inflammation. According to a study of the Indiana University, supplementation with 3.2g of EPA and 2g of DHA a day, after 3 weeks, reduced symptoms of exercise-induced asthma. “Sport asthma” is an important limiting factor in athletic performance.
Omega-3s help relieve from knee & shoulder pain after a workout
Knee and shoulder pain is pretty common in sports. Joint injuries can easily happen due to repeated mechanical stress, overuse, high joint loading or high impact forces. For instance, knee or shoulder pain after a workout is pretty common in bodybuilding, football, basketball, running etc. Sports with high rapid acceleration, instantaneous deceleration, or high impact on joints can cause joint pain or even early osteoarthritis!
Omega-3s are vital for maintaining joint health. Also, they help swollen joints to heal faster, as omega-3s have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Omega-3 supplementation may relieve joint pain and also help athletes or even an average person to recover faster. According to a 2013 study, a supplement rich in omega-3s helped people with osteoarthritis. It reduced joint pain, increased grip strength, improved walking pace, and improved quality of life.
Moreover, consuming pineapples may help with joint pain. Pineapple is the only food which contains bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that may heal soft tissue from injuries.
How much omega-3s per day?
Actually, there isn’t a standard recommended daily intake of omega-3s. The National Institutes of Health recommends a daily intake of 1.6g for men and 1.1g for women. Furthermore, the FDA recommends as an upper limit a total of 2g of EPA and DHA from supplements.[10,11]
The best dietary sources
There are 3 main types of omega-3s. ALA, DHA, and EPA. Plant-based foods contain mostly ALA. Seafood contains mostly DHA and EPA.
As seafood may contain pollutants, plant-based sources of omega-3s are preferable. Flaxseeds, canola oil, walnuts, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are the richest foods in omega-3s.
Side effects of omega-3 supplementation
The potential side effects of omega-3 supplementation are rather uncommon. High amounts of omega-3s from supplements may:
- impair wound healing,
- make the body more vulnerable to oxidative stress, so consuming lots of foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables is necessary. Amla powder is the richest food in antioxidants. Therefore, it’s a great supplement for athletes, as it promotes muscle recovery!
- contain toxins and other pollutants. So, prefer omega-3 supplements from algae. You can find them on Amazon. Commercial algae grow in tanks away from the ocean.