Enhancing Athletic Performance One Sardine At A Time

In last week’s blog post I talked about the role Omega 3 fats found in fish can play in heart health. This got me thinking if Omega 3 fats have a direct impact on athletics and performance?

I went to PubMed and much to my surprise there is actually quite a bit of research around the role Omega 3 fats play in the context of an athletic population!

Muscle Gain and Recovery

When it comes to skeletal muscle, Omega 3 intake has been associated with muscle growth and recovery. Researchers saw increased muscle growth when giving participants 4 grams of Omega 3s daily[1]. Research also showed that with just over 1g of Omega 3s Rugby players sore reduced muscle soreness and fatigue [2]. In a recent study, researchers found that at 6g of Omega 3s participants had less soreness and better blood biomarkers of muscle damage [3] when compared to 4g, 2g, and placebo based groups.

Endurance Training

For the endurance athletes out there, Omega 3s seem to have benefits for you as well. Omega 3s have been shown to enhance metabolic flexibility (the ability to switch between cabs and fats)[4], increased V02 Max[5], and decreased max heart rate[6]. When it comes to exercising for a prolonged period of time, all of these benefits can make a difference in your performance.

Additional Benefits For Athletes

The ability to stay healthy and train is critical to athletes looking to gain an edge against their competitors. Therefore immune health should be of the utmost importance for any athlete. Omega 3 supplementation has been shown to help improve immune function in athletes who are training hard [7].

Many athletes also suffer from asthmatic symptoms when exercising intensely. Researchers have found that supplementing with Omega 3s lessen asthmatic symptoms in both non-exercising individuals as well as those exercising[8].

Another problem athletes often face when trying to train at a high level is joint pain. If the pain is so bad that an athlete can’t train then they are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Research has found that supplementing with a little more than 1g of fish oil can result in reduced joining pain and stiffness [9].

Those are just some of the highlights, here are even more studies showing the benefits of Omega 3s in exercising individuals.


What athlete wouldn’t want all these benefits?

Our ancestors evolved near bodies of water and it is likely fish was a staple in many of their diets. They likely had much higher levels of Omega 3s than the average individual does today. This again illustrates why when we want to perform optimally as an athlete, we need to look to our ancestors to correct any mismatches that may be present from living in today’s modern world. Luckily today, we can correct the low level of Omega 3s with supplementation, but whole natural foods will always be best.

Supplementation is a great example of how we can marry the benefits of today’s technology with what our genes expect from an ancestral perspective. Correcting imbalances like Omega 3 levels is done naturally when I work with athletes on their diets, by eating an ancestrally appropriate diet to meet their needs. Sign up for my newsletter to learn more about how I use an ancestral approach to life to help athletes reach their full potential and overcome their greatest obstacles!

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  1. (n.d.). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle …. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3499967/
  2. (2018, July 9). Adding omega-3 fatty acids to a protein-based supplement …. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29985775/
  3. (n.d.). Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Impact of Varying Dosages … – MDPI. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/8/2246
  4. (2010, March 29). Metabolic switching of human myotubes is improved by … – NCBI. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903803/
  5. (n.d.). Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation improves … – PubMed. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25176010/
  6. (n.d.). DHA-rich fish oil lowers heart rate during … – PubMed. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18555744/
  7. (n.d.). Fish oil supplementation augments post-exercise immune …. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22902522/
  8. (n.d.). Protective effect of fish oil supplementation on exercise …. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16424411/
  9. (2013, June 5). Perna canaliculus lipid complex PCSO-524 … – PubMed. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23739042/

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