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A Guide to Omega-3 Supplementation

I am often asked what my number one fat burning supplement is. My reply of fish oil is hardly the radical “secret” most personal training clients were looking for. When they then ask my favourite muscle building supplement and I give the same reply of “fish oil”, I receive sceptical glances and have to explain myself further.

Fish oil, or more particularly the omega-3 fatty acids (the important ones being eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) do two key things to help radically improve body composition. Firstly they turn on the lipolytic (fat burning) gene whilst turning off the lipogenic (fat storage) gene, and secondly they prevent cachexia, or muscle wastage, that naturally occurs in all our bodies as part of their constant state of flux, and make our body more insulin sensitive, allowing for a positive nutrient partitioning effect where more of what you eat is stored in muscle as opposed to fat cells. Think for a second about this last point – leaner AND more muscular in one fell swoop. I have added 10-30 grams of high quality fish oil to many overweight clients’ supplement protocols and seen them drop up to 7lbs of body fat in 3 weeks without altering any other nutritional or exercise variable. Sometimes it really is that simple.

As if this wasn’t compelling reason enough to start supplementing regularly with fish oil, let us not forget that it has been clinically proven to be beneficial to a myriad of diseases, both physical and mental. The positive benefits include:

  1. A reduction in the systemic inflammation that is responsible for everything from muscle and joint soreness, tendonitis, excessively high blood pressure, asthma and ALL cardiovascular diseases, including sudden cardiac death. To all of you keeping careful watch of your longevity, we can add the highly relevant fact that medical researchers in New Zealand have provided compelling evidence that the increased consumption of fish oils helps reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
  2. An increase in our natural production of serotonin (the “feel good” neurotransmitter), resulting in decreased carbohydrate cravings, decreased incidence of depression, and an all round calmer demeanour!

I hope that I have made a convincing case as to why fish oil should be the first supplement in any Men’s Health readers’ wish list. Next month we will follow up on this piece by looking at the different and best types of fish oil available to you. Here is a brief clue, one must never pay Skoda prices and expect Ferrari performance!


1- Darlington, L Gail and Stone, Trevor W. Antioxidants and fatty acids in the amelioration of rheumatoid arthritis and related disorders. British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 85, March 2001, pp.251-69.
2- Toft, Ingrid, et al. Effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on glucose homeostasis and blood pressure in essential hypertension. Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol 123, No 12, December 15, 1995, pp 911-18. Connor, William E. Diabetes, fish oil, and vascular disease. Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol 123, No 12, December 15, 1995, pp950-52.
3- Dry J. and Vincent D. Effect of a Fish oil diet on asthma: results of a 1-year double bind study. Int Arch Allerguy Appl Immurol, Vol.95, 1991,pp.156-57.
Hans R. Larsen, Msc chE “”Fish Oils: The Essential Nutrients”” International Health News
4- Bigger,J. Thomas and El-Sherif, Tarek. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular events: a fish tale. Circulation, Vol.103, February 6, 2001, pp623-25 (editorial).
5- Norrish, A,E, et al. Prostate cancer risk and consumption of fish oils: A dietary biomaker-based case-control study. British Journal of Cancer, Vol. 81, No.7, December 1999, pp.1238-42″
6 – University of California’s Johnsson Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA / Andrew Stoll M.D.1999 Archives of General Psychiatry

Article written by Nick Mitchell, “London’s Best Personal Trainer” (Time Out London 2010).

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