Facts About Fish Oil Weight Loss

By Dr. Mary Butler

Fish oil may or may not help you with weight management, or more specifically, fat management. Several factors come into play, some of which can enhance the positive effects of fish oil and others of which can undermine them.

Many studies have explored the effects of fish oil weight loss. However, comparatively few have contended with factors that can influence the results, either positively or negatively. If you search for studies on fish oil vs. weight loss on our national medical database, PubMed, you will find studies that show seemingly contradictory results.

One of the truly helpful studies that include the effects of other factors was published in 2007 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It showed that omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., fish oil) do, indeed, provide positive results for decreasing fat mass and increasing lean mass, whereas omega-6 fatty acids (i.e., sunflower oil) do just the opposite.

In addition, this study also showed that a crucial factor for getting positive effects from fish oil is exercise. Even moderate exercise, such as walking for 45 minutes at 75 percent of age-predicted maximal heart rate, just 3 days each week, boosts the benefits of fish oil. In the absence of exercise, the effects of fish oil are insignificant.

In sum, piercing through all the seemingly contradictory conclusions from different studies on the effects of fish oil on weight loss, we can take away four consistent health lessons:

1) Vegetable oils undermine the benefits of fish oils. This lesson points directly to the modern intake of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of about 20:1, which should be closer to about 2:1. In other words, we should consume less vegetable oil and more fish oil.

2) The benefits of dietary fish oil for fat loss and lean body mass are boosted by even moderate exercise. Such benefits are insignificant in the absence of exercise.

3) The benefits of dietary fish oil are also undermined by sugar. In particulary, fructose and its widespread addition to foods and beverages as high fructose corn syrup cancel out the positive effects of fish oil.

4) At least 1.5 grams of a good fish oil supplement should be taken daily. Taking 2-3 grams would be even better. Moreover, be sure to choose fish oil supplement for the highest amount of the two main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, which are EPA and DHA.

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