Does Supplementing Fish Oil Affect Recovery?
The fish oil supplement has drawn a lot of attention due to its health benefits. In particular, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has shown beneficial effects on blood pressure, triglycerides, and heart rate
In addition, they have been shown to improve arterial dilation, have anti-arrhythmic and anti-inflammatory properties. All of this has been shown to have a protective effect against the development of cardiovascular disease
However, less is known about the role of fish oil supplement in recovery from weight training.
A 2020 paper2 by VanDusseldorp et al. studied the effects of fish oil supplementation on various markers of recovery after a strenuous bout of eccentric exercise. 2
A 2020 paper3 by Heileson et al. found that the minimum effective dose for the fish oil supplement to elicit a positive recovery response was 2 g supplemented for at least four weeks.3 However, research has been contradicting what the appropriate dosage should be.
Therefore, in the aforementioned article by VanDusseldorp and colleagues, the dosage between the groups was set at 2g, 4g and 6g and the effects of a seven-week protocol of supplementing fish oil were examined. This paper looked at a well-controlled study: 2
“Use of a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind experiment; Participants were randomly selected to consume 2- (2G), 4- (4G), or 6- (6G) g / day either FO or placebo (PL) supplement for ~ 7.5 weeks (8 participants per group (4 men and 4 women per group); a 6-week enema in the supplementation period, 1 week with familiarization tests at the beginning of the week and experimental tests at the end of the week, and three days of recovery tests). Muscle soreness, venous blood (to assess creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and muscle function indices were measured before eccentric training and immediately after 1, 2, 4, 24, 48 and 72 hours (H) after Training. The participants continued to add until they reached the 72-hour time point. ”2
- Participants completed eccentric squats on a Smith machine at a pace of 4-0-1 for ten sets of eight repetitions each with 70% of their 1RM and three minutes of rest between sets.
- In addition, participants had to complete five sets of twenty split jump squats with body weight.
- The primary metrics used to assess muscle damage and recovery were blood biomarkers, perceived pain, vertical jump, agility test, 40 yard sprint, and maximum voluntary isometric contraction.
The researchers observed that 6 grams of fish oil supplement had a beneficial effect on perceived muscle soreness.
The participants reported lower pain values at all measurement times. The 6-g group also decreased the recovery time from vertical jump performance. In some cases, this also resulted in better blood counts when monitoring indirect markers of muscle damage compared to the other controls.
What does that mean in practice? Although the researchers found a beneficial effect on recovery from consuming 6 g / day of fish oil, the magnitude of the effect was still relatively small. Therefore, a cost-benefit analysis should be the basis for deciding whether to use this strategy.
I don’t usually recommend many supplements to individuals.
However, from a health perspective, I generally find fish oil supplementation beneficial. If you choose to take it for this reason, you may also notice some minor benefits of improved recovery.
If you want a comprehensive analysis of primary recovery strategies and how to use them effectively for better results, I finally covered them on Kabuki Strength.4
1. “Effects of B Vitamins and Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Cardiovascular Disease: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study.” BMJ. 2010; 341: c6273. Accessed March 17, 2021.
2. Trisha A. VanDusseldorp, Kurt A. Escobar, Kelly E. Johnson, Matthew T. Stratton, Terence Moriarty, Chad M. Kerksick, Gerald T. Mangine, Alyssa J. Holmes, Matthew Lee, Marvin R. Endito and Christine M Mermier, “Influence of Different Dosages of Fish Oil on Recovery and Pain After Eccentric Exercise.” Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, NIH. Published online July 27, 2020. Accessed March 16, 2021.
3. Heileson JL, Funderburk LK. “The Effect of Fish Oil Supplement on Promotion and Maintenance of Lean Body Mass, Strength, and Recovery from Physiological Stress in Young, Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review.” Nutr Rev. 2020 Dec 1; 78 (12): 1001- 1014.
4. Daniel Debrocke, “Optimize Your Recovery For Maximum Strength.” Online Kabuki Strength, accessed March 16, 2021.