This is embarrassing: I don’t like fish. Wish I did, but I don’t, so I take fish oil pills daily (so does food writer Micheal Pollen author of Omnivore’s Dilemma). The first thing you should know is fish oil will not turn into fat and be deposited around your love handles or butt. Instead, you will preferentially use the healthy fish oil fat to build a protective outside layer on your cells. Ok, this is not completely true, your body will use any fat to do this job, including the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad trans fat, but the healthy omega-3 fat in fish oil is better. Substituting fish oils for other fats will improve your insulin sensitivity, decrease your cortisol levels, protect against heart disease, improve brain function and act as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It also allows for better fat metabolism. I know this may sound crazy and counter intuitive but it’s true: eating fish oil fat will promote fat loss!
Fish oils allow for better insulin management thereby preventing fat storage. Too many Americans (estimated at 34%) have become insulin resistant, meaning they are no longer able to flush sugar out of their blood and are more likely to gain belly fat, diabetes, and heart disease. This is because we eat too much sugar, too many bad fats and don’t move enough, sheesh! Eating omega-3 fat blunts insulin resistance and helps your cells regulate sugar and keep extra weight off. Research has also found fish oils enhance the production of leptin which is a hormone that decreases hunger and increases metabolism. A study done in the Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded supplementation with fish oils significantly increased lean muscle mass and decreased fat especially around the waist over a 6 week period. The overwhelming positive hormonal response one’s body has in relation to fish oils will certainly boost weight loss efforts among other things. Why aren’t you eating fish on a regular basis or at least supplementing?
Before you go out and buy fish oil capsules it may be a good idea to check with Consumer Lab.com to determine the safety and efficacy of certain brands. If you are worried about getting “fish burps” you can get supplements with a enteric coating; take them with meals; and/or keep them in the freezer.
Are fish oils healthier than vegetable oils? Yes.
- For the American/Western diet, here’s why: Vegetable oils contain Omega-6 fats which are eaten in much higher amounts than omega-3 (Approximately 16 to 1 ratio in the western diet). These fats compete for important enzymes and prevent your body from properly using omega-3 resulting is a loss of their anti-inflammatory benefits. Many of the longest living people in the world have a 2 to 1 or 1 to 1 ratio of omega-3 to Omega-6.
- Omega-6 can be beneficial if eaten in balance with omega-3 but we just eat too much of them. Common sources of omega-6 fat include safflower, corn, canola, and soybean oils; wheat, poultry and cereals.
- Chronic excess omega-6 intake in relation to omega-3 has been strongly associated with higher levels of cancer, arthritis and inflammation.
Other Good Sources of Omega-3 Fat:
- Chickens that are fed diets high in omega-3 will produce eggs with a very good fat ratio.
- Cows that are grass-fed and finished will also provide great amounts of Omega-3’s in their meat, butter, milk and yogurt.
- Vegans and vegetarians can eat flax seeds, hemp, walnuts, tofu, winter squash and chia seeds which provide omega-3 (mostly ALA’s which are very inefficient) and may be a suitable substitution but the evidence is murky.
More Peer-Reviewed Based Benefits of Fish Oils:
- Just under 1 gram of EPA/DHA in a post heart attack population is clinically proven to reduce death, non-fatal heart attack and non-fatal stroke by about 15%
- In a meta-analysis of 19 observational studies fish consumption was associated with a 14% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
- Fish oils dramatically lower our triglyceride levels (~30% reduction in hypertriglyceridemia populations), an often overlooked established risk factor for heart disease.
- Meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials fish oils in major depression found significant benefit when the fish oil EPA was given in daily.
1. Importance of Ratio of Omega3/6
2. Fish Oil and Leptin
3. Fish Oils and Muscle Mass
4. Cancer and Omega3/6
5. Flax seeds (ALA) Meta-analysis
6. Journal Of Clinical Nutrition: Weight loss and Dietary Fish
7. Diabetes Journal: Omega-3 Diabetes and Weight loss
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