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New research shows fish oils could improve endurance for runners

by Ross Edgley
Tuesday 6th March 2012
Tags  Omega 3   |   Ross Edgley   |   Myprotein
 
 

Myprotein.com Sports Scientist Ross Edgley shares research on how supplementing your diet with fish oils can help the heart, lungs and arteries function better

Omega-3 fats (found naturally in fish oils) are a type of polyunsaturated fat which have long been thought to be beneficial for general health improving everything from cognitive function to cardiovascular health. But a recent study conducted at the University of California found that ‘omega 3 fatty acids may increase physical conditioning’ by improving the efficiency of the cardiorespiratory system. Put more simply, supplementing your diet with fish oils can help the heart, lungs and arteries function better which in turn can improve running performance.

The study served to look at the relationship between consuming fish oils and running performance. The results demonstrated that participants with higher levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) the 2 long chain fatty acids that that form omega 3, showed increased heart rate recovery, exercise time and exercise capacity. Additionally, increased levels of EPA and DHA were associated with decreased risk of impaired heart rate recovery. These results demonstrate that an independent association exists between EPA and DHA fatty acid levels and exercise parameters, supporting the hypothesis that EPA and DHA may increase physical condition.

This idea seems to be supported by a study by Peoples et al (2008) conducted in Australia supplemented 8g of either fish oil or olive oil to 16 well trained male cyclists for duration of 8 weeks. The results demonstrated that participants in the fish oil supplemented group had significantly reduced heart rates as well as a lowered steady state submaximal heart rate and oxygen consumption. This essentially means that the athletes taking fish oils had a lower heart rate during exercise which experts theorise is because the fish oils enable the cardio-respiratory system (the lungs, heart, arteries…etc) to work more efficiently and delivery oxygen around the body far better.

Another study conducted in Australia by Buckley et al supplemented 25 Australian rules football players with 6g/day of DHA rich fish oil or sunflower oil for a duration of 5 weeks. After performing two treadmill runs to exhaustion the results demonstrated that the fish oil supplemented footballers had significantly decreased blood pressure and heart rate during submaximal exercise when compared to sunflower oil.

Lastly for those concerned with losing weight, data from another trial conducted in Australia looked at the effect of exercise and fish oil on 75 overweight participants. Results demonstrated that 1.9g/day of EPA and DHA combined with exercise significantly reduced body fat when compared to a sunflower oil placebo (see figure 1)

Figure 1. Effect of aerobic exercise, fish oil and sunflower oil on body fat mass (Taken from Hill 2007)

Figure 1. Effect of aerobic exercise, fish oil and sunflower oil on body fat mass (Taken from Hill 2007)

In conclusion, supplementing your diet with fish oils could help to improve both your body composition and endurance whilst running. And whilst you can get omega 3’s in your diet from mackerel, salmon, trout, herring, sardines, pilchards the EPA and DHA content is higher in a pure omega 3 supplement. And for those who don’t like the taste of fish or fish oils, Myprotein.com have just launched orange and strawberry flavoured Omega 3 liquid, £4.59 for 150ml www.myprotein.com/uk/products/omega_3_liquid to ensue you can get all the benefits of fish oils without the unwanted bad taste.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About The Author

Ross Edgley

Sports Scientist with a BSc Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough University Ross Edgley was a Strength and Conditioning Coach at The English Institute of Sport working alongside Britain’s Olympic Physicians, Nutritionists and S&C coaches and is currently fitness and nutrition advisor to a range of celebrities, athletes and what is considered the UK’s most innovative sports nutrition company http://www.theproteinworks.com

 
 
 
 
 

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