Whether you’ve got a marathon to run, a race to cycle, or a tennis tournament to play, you’re probably doing everything you can to prepare. Here’s one more trick to add to your training regimen: omega-3 fatty acids.* A small but growing body of studies points to a role for omega-3s in improving athletic performance.*
The latest study, published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition last summer, reported on the findings of a team from the University of Toronto.[i] The researchers recruited 30 young male athletes and measured their muscle function, fatigue levels, and performance before and after taking either an omega-3 supplement (providing 375 mg EPA, 230 mg DPA, and 510 mg DHA) or a placebo for three weeks.
At the end of the study, men who took the omega-3s showed a 20 percent increase in thigh muscle function — and experienced less muscle fatigue — compared to those who took a sugar pill.* Speculating about how the omega-3s worked, researchers said they may have altered the composition and fluidity of cellular membranes, thereby enhancing nerve function and reducing muscle damage.*
Two other recent studies have noted similarly encouraging results about the benefits of omega-3s for athletes.*
A Japanese study in regular, untrained men found a daily dose of 3.6 grams of fish oil taken for eight weeks improved exercise economy, in other words, how much effort the guys had to exert to keep moving.*[ii] It also reduced perceived exertion, meaning they felt less tired.*
Meanwhile, a Polish study in cyclists found omega-3 supplementation increased concentrations of nitric oxide and improved blood flow compared with placebo.*[iii] The enhanced blood flow was linked to significant increases in VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake — and more oxygen is just what exercising muscles need.*
If athletic training is part of your everyday routine, taking an omega-3 supplement should be, too.
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
[i] Lewis EJ, et al. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jun 18;12:28.
[ii] Kawabata F, et al. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2014;78(12):2081-8.
[iii] Zebrowska A, et al. Eur J Sport Sci. 2015;15(4):305-14.