Fish oil supplements– specifically omega-3 fatty acids – are gaining in popularity, and for good reason.
These fatty acids have been applauded for their assisting role in healthy brain development, improved heart health, improved triglyceride levels, decreased blood pressure, decreased risk of coronary heart disease, and anti-inflammatory properties in rheumatoid arthritis. There are also short-term effects that make fish oils necessary for all athletes.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are included in this group and have gained notoriety for their impact. These fats are not made by the body and have to be supplied by food. Your best source of omega-3s comes from fish, such as salmon and mackerel.
Three or four servings a week will provide most individuals with the recommended amount of EPA & DHA. The American Heart Association recommends 1.6 grams daily for men and 1.1 grams daily for women; however, omega-3 needs vary for each person so you may need. If fish is not part of the diet, EPA and DHA can be supplemented with fish oil capsules.
Fish oil is great for long-term health but also has two additional benefits for the Crossfit athlete in the short-term. Taking a fish oil supplement regularly can help you recover faster. Omega-3 fatty acids help fight inflammation. Taking a fish oil supplement after an intense workout can help lower levels of inflammation leading to decreased muscle soreness, reduced swelling and an increased range of motion so you are ready for your next workout. Additionally, adequate omega-3 levels help you burn fat and slow muscle loss. Getting enough omega-3 fatty acid in your diet improve your insulin sensitivity which leads to better fat burning in muscles. This is especially helpful if you are unable to workout due to injury as it will help preserve some of the muscle you have.
When choosing a supplement consider how many grams of EPA and DHA are contained in each capsule and compare that to your total required intake. You can find some good quality supplements for a decent price but you want to thoroughly read the label choosing one that will meet your needs, while still maintaining a high-quality. There is a variety of omega-3 supplements (krill, cod liver, flaxseed, etc) but fish or fish oil are the best sources.