Tarjei Bø, Norwegian Olympic Biathlete
In this article we will talk about why nutrition is so important for your health and how supplementing your body with extra omega – 3 fatty acids can improve your fitness. A balanced and healthy diet is important for your well-being but it also does much more than help maintain a healthy weight. The nutrients you ingest are essential for the growth and recovery of your muscles and could even impact endurance levels. Omega – 3 are essential fatty acids, which means that our body cannot produce them itself, but that we must rely on foods or supplements to get enough of the important EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) which fulfil many roles in our body: From impacting our cognitive development to a positive influence on our heart health, omega – 3s are good for you!
HOW YOUR DIET IMPACTS YOUR ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
When we exercise and use our muscles, we must make sure to consume the right nutrients to keep them strong and repair them after exercise. This is what sports nutrition is about. This branch of science looks at the impact of diet and nutrition on athletic performance, how to optimize training and how to fuel your body in the best possible way.
A varied and wholesome diet contains adequate amounts of the essential nutrients that your body needs to improve the benefits of your training and performance. Eating the right foods can also help your body recover quicker from exercise, reduce the risk of injuries and improve your performance level on competition day. It is important for example, to consume sufficient amounts of carbohydrates, the main source of energy for our body, as well as proteins, which our muscles need to grow and repair themselves after a workout. But it is more complicated than that. We should not only try to increase the intake of beneficial nutrients, but also reduce the consumption of substances, which can cause us harm in the long run. But this is not always easy. We have written about the imbalance of omega – 3 and omega – 6 in our modern western diet on our blog before (https://norwayomega.hk/blog/is-omega-6-good-or-bad-for-us/) and this also affects our body when it comes to sports. This imbalance of omega – 6 over omega – 3 in our bodies can create a pro-inflammatory environment (https://www.healthspanelite.co.uk/expert-insight/The-Ergogenic-Role-Of-Omega-3-In-Performance-Sports), which can be detrimental to our overall health.
In the next part, we will look into why omega – 3 is so important for our body when it comes to exercise and its Top 5 benefits for athletes.
FROM RECOVERY TO MUSCLE GROWTH, HERE’S WHY YOU NEED OMEGA – 3
Omega – 3 is one of the most researched food supplements in the world. However, research mostly focuses on its role in heart health and strong anti-inflammatory properties. But the science supporting omega – 3s role in sports nutrition is already exciting and promising, even though it is still emerging and some elements of it need further research to draw sound conclusions. But besides this need for further research, omega – 3 has become the foundation of the sports nutrition supplementation pyramid over the last decade (https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Article/2018/06/19/Omega-3-in-sports-nutrition-Science-is-exciting-and-promising-but-still-emerging). The fatty acids EPA and DHA are linked to benefits such as helping you gain muscle mass, influencing the fat to muscle ratio in your body and improving recovery of muscles after intense exercise. A systematic review of studies done with fish oil supplements in athletes shows that omega – 3 has a positive effect in the areas of cognition, heart health, muscle recovery and immunity.
And even if you are not an athlete, anyone can benefit from taking omega – 3 on a daily basis and while it is possible to get enough omega – 3 through food alone, it can be beneficial to use a high-quality supplement to make sure your body never lacks those important nutrients. The recommended intake is very personal and depends a lot on your body, health and lifestyle, as well as other factors like gender and age for example.
What we know is that the anti-inflammatory properties of omega – 3 may result in increased supply of blood and oxygen to our muscles and heart, which can be beneficial for our performance and reduce muscle soreness. The fact that omega – 3 improves the flow of blood throughout our body could also impact our endurance, as there is some evidence to suggest that omega -3 may reduce the oxygen cost of exercise in our body. EPA and DHA can also offset some of the damage done by free radicals which are generated during workouts and cause inflammations, which attack muscles, joints and ligaments. They therefore can help with muscle-recovery, reduce soreness post-exercise and can help preserve muscle-mass when calories are restricted or during longer periods of immobilization like when we are recovering from an injury. This is why many top athletes such as Norwegian Olympic biathlete Tarjei Bø, rely on omega – 3 supplements such as our products from Omega 3 of Norway (https://norwayomega.hk/tarjei-boe/).
THE TOP 5 BENEFITS OF OMEGA – 3 FOR ATHLETES
1. REDUCE INFLAMMATION & IMPROVE RECOVERY
The anti-inflammatory properties of EPA and DHA help combat muscle soreness and can reduce muscle swelling after exercise, thereby increasing range of motion. They also help our muscles to recover faster by reducing the damage done by free radicals to our tissue.
2. HELPS FUEL MUSCLE GROWTH
Omega – 3 has been shown to improve protein synthesis, the process where our body turns protein into the fuel that our muscles need to stay strong, grow and repair themselves.
3. GOOD FOR YOUR HEART & ENDURANCE
The positive impact of omega – 3 on our heart health is good for our body as a whole, but when it comes to exercise, there are even more benefits. Some research suggests that it reduces the demand for oxygen during exercise so our body needs less energy during sports. This could possibly increase athletic performance and the anabolic effect of training, while also counteracting muscle loss.
4. PROTECTING YOUR BRAIN
DHA make up 15% of the fats in our brain and might play a role in pre-emptive protection of the brain in sports where concussions are a high risk, like contact sports. There is also research looking into how o3 could improve reaction time. Other research suggests that there is a correlation between levels of DHA and EPA and anxiety, suggesting that an increased intake of omega – 3 can reduce anxiety, which can impact your performance under pressure and during competitions.
5. BODY COMPOSITION
Research shows that omega – 3 fatty acids might have a positive impact on your body composition, meaning, the ratio of fat to lean body mass. Fish oil has been linked to an increase in fat free mass, as to increase muscle protein concentration as well as muscle cell size. Fish oil supplementation combined with regular exercise has also shown to help with fat loss. This might be due to the positive effect of omega – 3 on blood sugar levels, decreases in cortisol and an improvement of our liver function.
So whatever your goals and ambitions are, taking omega – 3 supplements on a regular basis can help you reach the next level in your personal fitness journey!
A systematic study has also shown that next to all those positive impacts, there are no side effects or severe risks associated with supplementing with fish oil products, concluding that fish oil appears to be safe for athletes.
As an athlete, your diet can have a great impact on your performance. So, whether you are a professional athlete or just work out for fun, supplementing with omega – 3 may help your muscles grow and recover faster, and might even have a positive impact on your endurance! Check out our blog (https://norwayomega.hk/blog) to learn more about omega – 3 or head over to our Shop (https://norwayomega.hk/shop/) to browse our range of omega – 3 supplements to take your training to the next level.