Do you hate eating fish?
Well, that’s a shame because fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines contain important nutrients that may help you lose weight.
Many people don’t include enough fish in their weekly menus.
Luckily there is great substitute.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid supplements in form of a pill.
I now I sound like a multilevel salesperson, but please bear with me 🙂
As I am about to share, studies (some exclusive and unpublished) have confirmed beneficial effects of fish oil on weight loss, heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis.
But you are here to find out how to burn that belly fat, right?
Let’s jump right into it.
Fat Burning and Health Benefits of Fish Oil
If you’ve been reading health and fitness blogs then the irony is obvious.
The ingredients that provide the best health and weight loss benefits are fats. To be specific, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3, and CLA omega-6 fatty acids.
Clinical studies have found that fish oil does reduce waist-to-hip ratio waist circumference more effectively. You can review the study here.
Fish oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
This is contrary to the principles of low-fat diets that were popular during 80’s and 90’s among bodybuilders.
Fish Oil and Weight Loss
One of the first studies was published in 1997.
During 12 weeks, participants were on a diet that contained 50% of calories from carbohydrates. Instead of adding fish oil supplements to each meal, in the last 3 weeks of the research a selected group of participants substituted 6 grams of fat from the diet with 6 grams of fish oil fat.
People who replaced fat with fish oil lost 2 pounds in 3 weeks, while the group who didn’t consume fish oil lost only ~0.7 pounds.
This may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind that these people did nothing else but replace the fats in their diet with fish oil. They didn’t exercise and were on a carb-rich diet.
Another study by International Journal of Obesity included 324 obese people.
Participants were put on a low calorie diet, that wasn’t very “weight loss friendly”. 50% of calories came from carbohydrates and only 20% from proteins.
Additionally, these people received either nothing, or low-fat fish, fatty fish or fish oil capsules.
Also, they didn’t workout!
As if the researchers wanted them to fail!
- Average weight loss across all participants was 13.8 lbs
- Men who ate fish or used fish oil lost an additional 2 lbs
- Additional weight loss was recorded in the group where men ate fatty fish
As you can see, these two studies confirm that even if food is rich in carbohydrates, fish oil can increase fat loss and fat burning. (especially in men)
Fish Oil + Workout
The most popular research on fish oil and weight loss was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Unlike the studies mentioned earlier, this study included fish oil supplements that contained high levels of DHA.
In this study, participants, received sunflower or fish oil that was rich in DHA fatty acids.
One group of participants had to exercise by walking on a treadmill for 45 minutes, 3 times a week, at 75% of the maximum heart rate.
That group saw higher reduction in body weight compared to other groups who didn’t exercise or consume fish oil.
Here are a couple of unpublished information regarding this research.
One factor that the researchers measured, but didn’t report, is heart rate.
The group who used fish oil experienced a significant reduction in heart rhythm while sleeping.
Since their goals were related to heartbeat (75% of the maximum heart rate), the fish oil group had to work harder to achieve the goal. This is one of the potential reasons why they lost more weight.
It’s not entirely clear how fish oil affects heartbeat rhythm at rest.
However, from cardiovascular studies we know that increased EPA and DHA levels can change the electrochemistry of heartbeats.
Therefore, fish oil can help prevent sudden death from heart attacks. And also, probably, adjust your heartbeat to normal.
Not convinced yet?
Let’s check out some other health benefits of fish oil…
Heart Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil
Some of the most extraordinary fish oil benefits are related to heart health.
Researchers at the GISSI-Prevenzione performed a study on 11,323 people who survived heart attack.
After 3 and a half years, patients who consumed 1 gram of fish oil daily reduced death caused by heart attack by almost 50%.
Give me a salmon fillet right now!
Another recent study conducted in Japan found that by adding fish oil supplement to regular diet increases heart attack survival rate by 16%.
Fish oil benefits on joints and arthritis
According to this study from Harvard Medicine, mild and regular exercise is good for joint health and strength.
If you were pushing huge weights when you were younger, then there is a chance that you already have joint injuries.
Painful joints is a price that many bodybuilders pay for years of lifting unprecedented weights. Set after set, rep after rep.
EPA and DHA, found in fish oil, can reduce inflammation, which causes joint pain and swelling.
Fish oil could also suppress the body’s immune system, which makes it a potential weapon against arthritis and joint pain.
With the right dosage and regular consumption, many patients eliminated joint pain.
1 to 1.5 grams of EPA and DHA are sufficient to prevent heart diseases, however for joint pain reduction a higher dosage is required.
With fish oil supplements, high dosage can be achieved fairly easily.
How does fish oil exactly work in our body?
The exact mechanism of how fish oil impacts fat loss is not entirely clear.
So let’s stick to what we know so far.
Here are some “geeky” explanations on how fish oil can help you burn fat:
- DHA prevents transformation of preadipocytes into adipocytes. In other words, it “kills” preadipocytes before it becomes an indestructible fat cell.
- Fish oil increases the cleansing effect of chylomicrons and fats after a meal. This has a positive effect on the utilization of substrate.
- Fish oil can reduce the heart rate and thus increase the level of chylomicrons needed to achieve the desired intensity.
- Fish oil regulates the mitochondrial system and increases fat oxidation within the fat cells.
You must be wondering why the list doesn’t include insulin sensitivity improvement.
If you look at a wide list of researches, you will see that there is actually no big effect (if any), especially in healthy people.
How to use fish oil supplements?
With all of the mentioned health and weight loss benefits, you definitely want to start consuming fish oil.
Here’s how to find the right fish oil supplement:
- Use 2-3 grams of EPA / DHA per day if your goal is to lose fat. However, you may need to increase the dosage to 5 grams of EPA / DHA as effects differ from person to person.
- 2-3 grams can be consumed all at once, but if your daily does is 5 grams, then split it into two doses. One in the morning and one in the evening.
- Take fish oil with food. If you take it in the morning, take it with food to reduce the chance of its oxidation.
Fish oil should be one of those essential food supplements that you should use on a daily basis, regardless of your weight goals.
If your main goal is to reduce fat, then increase daily dosage.
Important: please consult your doctor before using fish oil capsules, or any supplement as a matter of fact. According to UMMC you shouldn’t be taking more than 3 grams a day unless your doctor recommends it.
I don’t “believe” in supplements and love eating fish!
What types of fish are high in omega-3?
While supplements may be the easiest and most convenient method for getting omega-3, you can get fish oil by eating fish.
The American Heart Association recommends 2 servings of omega-3 rich fish per week.
Here are some fish types that are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids:
- lake trout
- albacore tuna
Also, keep in mind that fish oil is not the only source of healthy omega-3 fats.
Soy foods and soy oils, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts are also great source of this healthy fatty acid.
If you like this article, then please share it with your friends 🙂