Fish oil is the best option for healthy weight loss. This healthy fat found in fatty fish is the richest natural source of omega-3 fatty acids (1). Researchers have found that fish oil can help improve cardiovascular health, promote brain development, and reduce inflammation and the risk of diabetes (2). In fact, fish oil also reduces cortisol levels and can help you get rid of belly fat (3)! In this article, we will discuss how using fish oil for weight loss is beneficial, supplements, dosage, whether you should consume it during pregnancy, and much more. But first, let me tell you about fish oil in brief.
What Is Fish Oil?
Fish oil is derived from fatty fish. It is loaded with Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs), known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (4). They are called PUFAs because they have multiple double bonds in their chemical structure. These have been found to be beneficial for human health as compared to saturated fatty acids (no double bond in the chemical structure) (5).
Now, let’s dig a little deep. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). And these are important for better human health. ALA can be synthesized by humans but not EPA and DHA. Though ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA, the conversion percent is very low (6), (7). Fortunately, fish oil or fatty fish is the only source from which you can get the recommended ratio of EPA-DHA, which is 1.5:1 (8). How does this ratio or, in general, omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil aids weight loss? Let’s find out in the next section.
Bottom Line: Fish oil from fatty fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that are beneficial for human health.
How Fish Oil Aids Weight Loss
Weight loss is determined by a number of factors, but most of us suffer from a common problem – not being able to get enough omega-3 fatty acids from regular food sources. And this is one of the major reasons for weight gain.
In general, the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids should be 1:1. But, according to a study published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, this ratio is 15:1 or higher in Western diets (9). This imbalance results in cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, stress, depression, obesity, and cancer.
By consuming fatty fish or taking fish oil supplements, you can restore the omega-6 and omega-3 ratio. This, in turn, reduces inflammation and inflammation-induced weight gain and improves lipid profile (10). This is the basic scientific logic behind fish oil’s magical weight loss properties.
Here are some more cool facts and research studies that connect the dots between fish oil and weight loss.
- Fish Oil Increases Satiety
In an experiment, obese patients were supplemented with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids along with diet restrictions. The patients were provided with 260 mg/day or 1300 mg/per day of omega-3 fatty acids, and their postprandial satiety was measured.
Patients supplemented with both doses of omega-3 fatty acids reported higher satiety levels (11). Therefore, it can be concluded that consuming fatty fish or fish oil supplements can help suppress your appetite. This, in turn, will prevent you from overeating and gaining weight.
- Fish Oil Lowers Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides are the end products of fat digestion in your body. They circulate in the blood and are used by the body as energy or are taken up by the fat cells and stored.
When you consume a lot of unhealthy food and don’t work out, the triglyceride levels go up. This puts you at the risk of obesity and related diseases like heart disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis, etc.
It has been found that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help lower the serum triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are synthesized by joining the fatty acid molecules. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the availability and delivery of fatty acids and decrease the fatty acid synthesizing enzymes. This, in turn, prevents the formation of triglyceride molecules and protects you from gaining weight (visceral and subcutaneous fat) (12).
- Fish Oil Helps Burn The Fat
Fat oxidation is the process where fat molecules are broken down into fatty acids and triglycerides. This process is necessary for the cells to be able to function properly because fat, as such, cannot be directly used as an energy source. But, as mentioned before, too many triglycerides in the blood can be very harmful.
Sadly, most obese and sedentary people have high triglyceride levels in the blood. And this is the where fish oil comes into the picture. Researchers from France conducted an experiment with a few healthy individuals. For three weeks, the participants were on a controlled diet, and for the next 10-12 weeks, they were given 6g/day of fish oil along with the same controlled diet. After 12 weeks, the results were recorded, and it was found that the fish oil induced fat oxidation (13). Therefore, fish oil can help you mobilize the fat and help you lose the extra fat.
- Fish Oil Lowers LDL Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is also known as bad cholesterol. And that’s because an increase in the LDL cholesterol levels can lead to clogged arteries. Unfortunately, obese people have a higher level of LDL cholesterol and lower levels of HDL or good cholesterol in their blood. In a study, researchers reported that human participants supplemented with fish oil had decreased LDL cholesterol levels (14). In another study by American scientists, omega-3 fatty acids helped increase the HDL or good cholesterol levels (15). Therefore, if you are obese and need to lose weight, add fish oil to your diet. It will not only help you lose subcutaneous fat but also reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases.
- Fish Oil Helps Build Muscle
Fish oil also helps build muscle, which helps to increase the metabolic rate. Scientists have found that supplementing human participants with fish oil aided muscle anabolism and improved muscle mass (16), (17), (18).
- Fish OIl Prevents Insulin Resistance
Your body can become insulin resistant when your blood sugar levels are constantly high. Insulin becomes insensitive to glucose and doesn’t take it up. This makes you feel hungry as your cells are devoid of glucose. As a result, you eat more and gain weight. Researchers have found that fish oil helped increase insulin sensitivity in human participants with metabolic disorders (19).
- Fish Oil Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is the first sign of wound healing. But it is not good when it continues for a long period. It not only induces physical discomfort but can also weaken your immunity. Moreover, prolonged periods of stress in the body can also make you gain weight. Studies have confirmed that fish oil is anti-inflammatory. It helps reduce the inflammation in the body by inhibiting the inflammatory pathways (20), (21).
So, these were the scientific reasons behind fish oil’s weight loss aiding property. Now, let’s talk about how much fish oil should you take for weight loss.
Fish Oil Dosage For Weight Loss
You can either consume fatty fish or use fish oil pills or supplements. Here is how much fish oil you should take for weight loss.
- Healthy individuals – 500 mg/day
- Obese individuals – 800-1000 mg/day
Remember, the dosage will vary depending on your age, medical history, current medications, etc. So, talk to your doctor before taking fish oil to determine the correct dosage for you.
There are many fatty fish and fish oil supplements available in the market. How do you know which one is the best? Let’s find out in the following section.
What Is The Best Fish Or Fish Oil Supplement For Weight Loss?
All kinds of fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, but the best sources are fatty fish. Here’s a list of fatty fish that you should consume to lose weight.
- Wild Salmon
- Pacific Cod
Tip: Buy them from the local fishmonger instead of the supermarket.
If you cannot have fish or do not like eating them, use fish oil supplements or pills. Here’s what you need to look for in fish oil supplements.
- Check the EPA and DHA ratio in the fish oil supplement. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiologist, fish oil supplements should contain 600 mg DHA.
- WHO recommends consuming fish oil that contains 0.2-0.5 grams EPA/DHA.
- Choose a well known and reputable brand.
- Look for added substances that may be toxic to you.
- Always buy a fish oil supplement that your doctor has prescribed.
So, what is the best time to consume fish oil? Let’s talk about it in the section below.
When To Consume Fish Oil For Weight Loss?
The best time to consume fish oil is
- 30-60 minutes after waking up
- 30 minutes before lunch
- 30 minutes before going to bed
Now, it’s time for you to know about the other benefits of fish oil.
Fish Oil Health Benefits
There are innumerable health benefits of fish oil apart from just weigh loss- from preventing heart disease to making your hair lustrous and shiny. Take a look at the list of benefits below.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Improves heart health by reducing cholesterol and preventing plaque formation.
- Reduces the risk of arrhythmia.
- Helps reduce stress and anxiety.
- Delays aging.
- Slows down macular degeneration.
- Helps reduce swelling and pain and soothes sore muscles.
- Improves skin health.
- Reduces visceral fat.
- Improves attention span in ADHD children.
- Prevents osteoporosis.
- Reduces hair fall.
Now, a lot of times, fish is not prescribed during pregnancy. But is taking fish oil safe during pregnancy? Find out next.
Is It Safe To Consume Fish Oil During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a blessing, and you should be careful of what you are consuming and what supplements you are taking. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have a positive effect on the baby and the mother. They help in brain and eye development and prevent allergies in infants. Consuming fish oil supplements will prevent pre-term delivery. In fact, a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids can increase your chances of slipping into postpartum depression (22). So, you can take fish oil supplements during pregnancy.
Make sure you consult your doctor to find out the dosage and time of consumption or if you should consume fish oil at all.
Coming back to weight loss with fish oil, is only eating fatty fish or taking fish oil pills going to help you lose weight? To an extent, yes. But then, it all comes down to your lifestyle. Check out this list to know what exactly you should do to lose weight.
Lifestyle Changes You Need For Weight Loss With Fish Oil
- Consume five different types of veggies, three times a day.
- Have three different types of fruits, two times a day.
- For best results, consume the supplements at the specified times.
- Have different types of fatty fish every day, at least in one meal.
- Consume other sources of lean protein to get all kinds of amino acids.
Consume other sources of healthy fats, like nuts, ghee, olive oil, etc.
- Avoid eating out.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Avoid junk, processed, and deep-fried foods.
- Check your body fat percent every month.
- Check your weight and click pictures every two weeks.
- Workout regularly. Do a mix of cardio, HIIT, and strength training.
- Practice meditation.
- Take out 10 minutes of your time to enjoy the quiet.
- Play a sport, walk for a social cause, teach poor kids at a local school, or spend quality time with family, friends, or your pet.
- Switch off your mobile, laptop, TV, Xbox, etc. and read a book before sleeping.
- Sleep for 7-8 hours.
Fish oil for weight loss is a great supplement and a good source of healthy fat that aids weight loss. But you also have to eat good and work out to accelerate your weight loss. Talk to your doctor or dietitian and start losing weight with fish oil. Cheers!
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