If you’re interested in the world of supplements, then you’ve surely heard about one of the hottest supplements on the market – Omega-3 Fish Oil! There are numerous benefits touted by this popular supplement. In this article, we’re zoning-in on one in particular – Omega 3 and fish oil for weight loss.
We’re examining all the ways in which fish oil can potentially help you with your weight loss journey. We’re going to examine scientific research and let you know which claims are real and which aren’t. Although there is certainly more research to be done in this contentious area, we’re going to give you everything you need to know to make your own decision about Omega 3 weight loss, so let’s get started!
What Are Fish Oil Omega 3s?
Firstly, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is fish oil?
Fish oil is a popular supplement that was derived from (you guessed it) fish tissue. Fish oil is popular for containing Omega-3 fatty acids. Most notably, fish oil generally contains the omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) docosahexaenoic acid (DPA).
However, fish oil does contain more than just omega-3s. In fact, fish oil generally is comprised of about 30% omega-3s, with the other roughly 70% being other fats. Fish oil is also a good source of Vitamins A and D, which both tout their own benefits.
In this article, we’re focusing on the benefits of fish oil as it pertains to weight loss and the bodily functions surrounding weight loss. Below, we will examine the popular claims surrounding fish oil usage for weight loss, and let you know just how accurate these claims can be.
Weight Loss Basics
Before we get into how fish oil can help with weight loss, it’s important to note one important concept – weight loss is about much more than supplements. While fish oil might very well help with numerous functions that can lead to weight loss, you will not lose weight if you do not adhere to certain other principles and lifestyle choices. In this section, we’ll explain what these are. Fish oil should be used in conjunction with these other choices to succeed in your weight loss goals.
But, before we show you our list, we think it would be useful to spend a few minutes watching the video below.
In this video, all the basic concepts behind the science of weight loss are explained in a consise, simple and fun way!
The first important concept in weight loss is caloric intake. Simply put, to lose weight, you have to consume fewer calories than your body burns. If your body is running on a caloric deficit, it will actually start to burn your body’s fat reserves, which is what results in weight loss. Although this is a rather simplified account of what happens, the basic concept holds true.
It is all about “calories in” vs. “calories out.” So to lose weight effectively, you might want to track how many calories you consume in a day and compare it to how many you burn.
It becomes much easier to lose weight when you focus on consuming a balanced diet. This means a diet that contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. By eating a balanced diet, you can give your body the fuel it needs to remain healthy while cutting down your caloric content and losing weight.
Once again, this is an overly simplified explanation of what actually happens, and the scientific explanation of a “balanced diet” is beyond the scope of this article. But the bottom line is that it is generally easier to maintain a weight loss diet if you eat healthy foods.
Of course, most weight loss programs will also include an extensive exercise regime. Exercise is a highly efficient way to burn calories fast. Exercise raises your heart rate and activates many of your body’s metabolic processes, which burns calories at an accelerated rate. Alongside proper nutrition, an exercise program can help you to burn fat faster and more efficiently.
However, you need to be sure that increased exercise does not lead to increased calorie consumption. Exercise increases appetite, which often leads people to consume more. The caloric deficit remains your goal with any weight loss regime. Without a deficit, your body will not burn body fat.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of weight loss, let’s take a look at how fish oil can help. Fish oil has numerous effects that may help you to achieve the weight loss program outlined above.
Omega 3 Fish Oil for Weight Loss
So how exactly does fish oil help with weight loss? There are a few ways in which fish oil can be effective. We will look at each in turn, and also look at the research which backs up each claim. As with most areas of nutrition, the research does conflict in some areas. Our goal of this section is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
The first way that omega-3 can potentially help with weight loss is through the reduction of inflammation.
One source has examined the research surrounding the use of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs, such as those found in fish oil) for the reduction of inflammation, which occurs in response to various injuries. The research suggests that the use of these PUFAs may decrease the production of various chemicals, which leads to inflammation in the muscles.
Additionally, long-chain PUFAs may help produce anti-inflammatory mediators known as resolvins. Although more research is needed to make conclusions in this area, this research is promising.
Simply put, the less your muscles are inflamed, the easier exercise becomes. This will make it easier to stick to an exercise program, which is often a pillar of a weight loss program. Additionally, lessening inflammation allows your muscles to recover more quickly from injuries, allowing you to get back in action faster.
Lessen Stress Hormones
There is also research that has been conducted which links PUFA consumption to decreased stress hormones known as cortisol. This research concludes that increased omega-3 consumption may result in reduced distress symptoms and basal cortisol secretion. These stress hormones often increase appetite. Decreased stress hormones may point to a decreased appetite in many, which would result in easier weight loss, although more research is needed to conclude definitively.
May Lower Appetite
There has also been research conducted, which points to the fact that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can help to moderate satiety in overweight and obese volunteers. This study was done on volunteers who were overweight or obese.
The study was done in a double-blind fashion, with roughly half the volunteers given a low amount of omega of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, and roughly half given a high amount. The volunteers were otherwise placed on identical weight loss programs. The study concluded that the long-chain omega-3s helped to moderate satiety more effectively in the group who were given omega-3 treatment. The study acknowledged that a larger sample group would be needed to conclude definitively.
Of course, monitoring satiety is a key component in weight loss. For many, the feeling of hunger is the most difficult part of any weight loss regime. More effectively monitoring this feeling will increase your chances of a successful weight loss program.
May Speed up Metabolism
There is also research that supports the fact that omega-3 consumption may increase resting metabolic rate. One study was conducted on 44 men and women whose resting metabolic rate was tested each morning after an overnight fast. The study was done using a double-blind method, with subjects being assigned either omega-3 oils or Safflower oil.
The subjects were monitored for six weeks. Subjects who were given omega-3 treatment saw an increase in resting metabolic rate each morning, as well as increased lean mass and decreased fat mass. This could point to the fact that omega-3 and fish oil consumption has a positive correlation with the resting metabolic rate.
Of course, this is good news for those attempting a weight loss program. An increased metabolic rate allows you to burn calories faster, which results in more effective body fat burn as well. A faster metabolic rate makes weight loss easier.
There is also research that points to the fact that fish oil consumption may increase the efficiency of exercise. One study suggests that fish oil may reduce oxygen consumption and heart rate during exercise. In this study, 16 well-trained athletes were assigned (on a double-blind basis), either fish oil supplements or olive oil capsules.
Subjects were tested on an electric bicycle, while completing peak O2 consumption tests, and sustained submaximal tests at 55% of the total workload. The fish oil-treated group observed lowered heart rate, lowered peak heart rate, lowered steady-state submaximal exercise heart rate, and whole-body O2 consumption. These are positive signs, but a larger study will have to be conducted to conclude in these areas.
These are positive signs that fish oil consumption can make exercise easier and more efficient (in terms of heart rate and O2 consumption). The easier exercise is, the more likely it is that you can stick to your exercise portion of your weight loss routine. If this becomes easier, then so does overall weight loss.
May Help to Lose Fat
Research also suggests that fish oil consumption may positively affect body composition. In this study, 44 participants were selected to take place in a weight-loss study. The participants were assigned in a double-blind manner to two groups and given either omega-3 supplements or Safflower oil. Participants in the omega-3 treatment group lost more body fat throughout the treatment study. One of the reasons was the increased metabolic rate observed.
This is a positive sign that omega-3 consumption may help users to burn fat at an increased rate, although more research is required to know for sure.
May Improve Bone Health
Omega-3 and fish oil have also been the subject of research connecting it to improved bone & muscle health. The research suggests that polyunsaturated fatty acids (such as those in fish oil) might play a significant role in lowering bone and muscle loss that occurs alongside aging. This research would suggest a positive correlation between high omega-3 consumption and muscle & bone health. However, the study acknowledges that more research needs to be done to conclude this connection definitively.
Although not directly connected to weight loss, this factor is connected to one of the key components of any weight loss regime – exercise. Simply put, healthier bones and muscles makes exercise easier. Less pain is experienced, and you can effectively burn more calories more comfortably. This research points positively toward omega-3 consumption, assisting more effective exercise.
Remember: Everything in Balance
We hope this article has helped you to realize all of the potential benefits of omega-3 & fish oil as they relate to your weight loss goals. However, you should remember that omega-3 supplementation is only one part of an effective weight loss routine. It should be done paired with an effective weight loss routine that we outlined at the start of this article.
Remember, supplements are called supplements for a reason. They are meant to supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle. They must work in tandem with healthy goals, a healthy diet, and a healthy exercise routine. Simply put, if your body is not operating at a caloric deficit, you will not lose weight. But there are ways to make this caloric deficit more tolerable and more achievable.
Thanks very much for checking out our guide to omega-3 and fish oil as it pertains to a healthy weight loss routine. As you can see, there is a lot of research that points to fish oil supplementation as a great alternative for achieving various weight loss goals. Remember that it must be done in tandem with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
If you still have questions about fish oil supplementation, try talking with a doctor or a dietician. They can help to create a plan which is specific to your exercise and dietary goals. A custom plan is most effective in helping to create a weight loss routine that you can sustain for the long term.