What if I told you that there was one supplement that increased resting metabolic rate by 14%, fat oxidized at rest by 19%, and fat oxidized during exercise by 29%?
A recent study performed on older females showed just that. What is this exciting new supplement? Would you believe me if I told you it was fish oil? You can check out the December 2015 study here. While fish oil has been studied extensively in relation to heart health in populations dealing with cardiovascular disease, it is only more recently that researchers have begun to test the effects of fish oil on healthy populations.Should you add this one supplement that boosts metabolism to your daily regiment? #health #nutrition Click To Tweet
What Makes Fish Oil so Special?
Fish oil is a rich source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) our bodies only make limited amounts of EPA and DHA from another fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. This means that we must obtain the rest of our EPA and DHA needs from food. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are typically obtained from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines. There are also plant-based options such as hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts. The American Heart Association recommends adults consume 500mg of EPA and DHA per day, which is the equivalent of about 8 oz of fish a week. In reality, the average intake is closer to 135mg per day. If you are not consuming Omega 3 Fatty Acid rich foods on a regular basis you may find supplementation beneficial.
Looking for more simple diet tricks to fix your metabolism? Check out my post on Carb Cycling 101
The Study Design
In this study participants took 3grams of EPA and DHA daily, a much higher dose than that recommended by the American Heart Association. Many of the studies on fish oil use these large doses ranging from 3-6grams a day. This study was designed to be relatively short, lasting only 12 weeks. Many fish oil studies last anywhere from 6 months to a year, this study was focusing on the short-term benefits of fish oil. While 12 weeks may seem like a long time, omega 3 fatty acids need time to accumulate in the body and become incorporated into cellular structures.
By The Numbers
With resting metabolic rate increasing by 14%, fat oxidation rate increasing by 19% at rest and 29% during exercise the numbers in this study where quite compelling. To put things in perspective a meta-analysis, which reviewed several studies, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no compelling evidence to support the majority of popular diet pills on the market. If that wasn’t impressive enough the benefits of supplementing with Fish Oil did not end there. This study also reported a 10% increase in energy expenditure during exercise and improved body composition with a 4% increase in lean mass. You may be wondering what happened with the placebo group. While the experimental group was popping fish oil the placebo group took olive oil capsules. To put everything in perspective the placebo group experienced no significant changes over the 12 week period.
How Does it Work?
We have discussed that fish oil is a rich source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, but why does intake of these fats have so many health benefits? Those Omega 3 Fatty Acids found in fish oil become part of the cell membrane, this integration at the cellular level has several benefits. Another study, done on healthy young males, found that Omega 3 Fatty Acids were incorporated into the cellular structure of skeletal muscle. At rest, skeletal muscle accounts for approximately 20% of our energy expenditure and during exercise skeletal muscle accounts for about 80% of oxygen consumption. It is likely that these cellular changes to the skeletal muscle contribute to the increase seen in resting metabolic rate and energy expenditure seen during exercises. Furthermore, this incorporation is theorized to impact energy metabolism in several ways, including controlling gene expression related to fat metabolism as, well as affecting the function of the cell membranes themselves. It is thought that Omega 3 fatty acids turn on several genes that increase the cells ability to use fat for fuel.
This one supplement increased resting metabolic rate by 14%, fat oxidized at rest by 19%, and fat oxidized during exercise by 29% Click To Tweet
Looking to get the most out of your sweat sessions? Check out my post on High Intensity Interval Training and why you should include it in your exercise routine.
It is important to remember that this was one study, performed on a specific demographic, older females. I found the numbers compelling, however further studies on a larger and more diverse population are needed before we can conclude that fish oil supplementation would have such a large impact on all demographics.
I would love to hear what do you think? Have you supplemented with Fish Oil before?
Always consult with your physician before starting a new supplement, diet, or exercises routine.