Fish oil is a common supplement that helps to promote brain, eye, heart, and joint health, thanks to its high omega-3 fatty acid content.
While many people take fish oil for general health, some bodybuilders have found it improves muscle recovery, range of motion, and other benefits.
So, is there any scientific evidence to support these claims and if so, which is the best fish oil for bodybuilding?
While fish oil and bodybuilding might not seem like an obvious pair, the high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements provide several health benefits that complement bodybuilding.
If you’re curious about the benefits of fish oil supplements or looking to improve your bodybuilding routine, this article should answer all your questions about this fishy debate.
Table of Contents
- What is Fish Oil?
- 3 Best Fish Oil Supplements in 2023
- What Does Fish Oil Do For Bodybuilders?
- How Much Fish Oil Per Day Bodybuilding?
- Fish Oil vs Omega-3 Supplements
- How To Calculate Your Fish Oil Dosage
- When Is The Best Time To Take Fish Oil?
- Can Fish Oil Cause Weight Gain?
- Can Omega-3 Fish Oil Help You LOSE Weight?
- What Is the Best Fish Oil to Take?
What is Fish Oil?
Fish oil supplements are exactly that: supplements made with oil extracted from fatty fish such as herring, halibut, and salmon which are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
These fatty acids have a wide range of health benefits including powerful antioxidant effects which support muscle building, leading a growing number of bodybuilders to discuss the best fish oil for bodybuilding.
If you’re unfamiliar with fish oil, it may sound nasty, but modern forms of supplements such as gummies are able to remove most of the unpleasant taste, leaving only the health benefits.
Because your body cannot produce omega-3s, they are classified as ‘essential nutrients’ and you must get them from external sources in your diet or in the form of supplements.
3 Best Fish Oil Supplements in 2023
When choosing a fish oil supplement, you may be overwhelmed by the choice, with dozens of companies claiming to have the best fish oil for bodybuilding, but these three rules make it easy to narrow down your choice:
- Choose capsules over straight fish oil: Capsules are way more convenient than pure fish oil, as they don’t require a measuring spoon, and are easier to transport.
- Find capsules with 300+ mg of EPA and DHA: As effective doses of omega-3s tend are around 2000 – 3000mg, make sure to get strong doses to avoid taking dozens of pills daily.
- Get capsules with 3rd-party certification: Consistency is key, so make sure that your supplements have been certified as safe by reputable 3rd parties like the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), or International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS).
1. Arazo Nutrition Wild Caught Omega 3 Fish Oil
Made in the USA in a GMP-certified facility using patented oil extraction methods and molecular distillation to provide a seriously strong dose of omega-3s in easy-to-swallow soft gel capsules.
Containing 1200mg of EPA and 900mg of DHA in every serving of 3 pills, this is an easy way to boost your omega-3 levels with pure fish oil!
2. Xtend-Life, Omega 3 QH Premium Fish Oil
Designed to support healthy heart, brain, and joint function, the benefits of these supplements are too good for an environmentally-conscious bodybuilder to pass up.
Sourced from sustainable, New Zealand wild-caught seafood, these convenient soft gel pills have the best fish oil for bodybuilding that is sustainable for years to come.
3. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Fish Oil Supplement
Formulated with the finest non-GMO, gluten- & dairy-free ingredients without any artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, these omega-3 supplements contain all the pure fish oil you need.
Because the fish oil content is in triglyceride molecular form (the form naturally found in fish) and these pills are enhanced with natural lemon flavor, they offer better absorption, better taste, and no fishy aftertaste.
What Does Fish Oil Do For Bodybuilders?
Fish oil is a powerful source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for general health in normal people and bodybuilders alike.
Whether you’re trying to beat your deadlift record with the best fish oil for bodybuilding or just trying to get through the day, fish oil is an essential part of any healthy diet.
The National Institutes of Health recommend that you take between 0.5 and 1.6g of Omega-3s a day, which can be achieved with a few dietary tweaks like eating the FDA-recommended 8 ounces of seafood a week.
If you already have a reasonably balanced diet but feel that your workout routine could be improved, fish oil supplements could be the boost you need, as they:
May Reduce Muscle Soreness
It’s normal to feel sore after strenuous exercise, and many people feel sore and stiff 12-72 hours after their workout session, a condition known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Fortunately, supplementing with fish oil can inhibit the development of DOMS, leading to some bodybuilders hotly debating the best fish oil for bodybuilding.
May Improve Workout Quality
Some research suggests that the anti-inflammatory effects of EPA and DHA in fish oil may boost your workout performance by preventing or reducing declines in strength from intense exercises.
In one study, a sample group took 2,400mg of fish oil daily for 8 weeks before exercise and were able to maintain muscle strength better than the control group.
May Aid Muscle Health As You Age
As you age, your muscle mass gradually decreases and it becomes more difficult to maintain and build muscle, partially due to decreased responses to resistance training and protein intake.
However, the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil may enhance your muscle’s sensitivity to protein and exercise, allowing for improved gains in later life and making discussions on the best fish oil for bodybuilding even more relevant in an aging population.
How Much Fish Oil Per Day Bodybuilding?
When trying to find the perfect dose of fish oil (omega-3) to increase your workout gains, a good place to start is the NIH Adequate Intake (AI) levels, which are meant to provide healthy levels of nutrients.
It is important to note that these AIs are more of a recommended minimum than a definite maximum, so don’t be afraid to exceed these levels to get the most benefits from your supplement routine.
Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for the best fish oil for bodybuilding dosage, as the best daily dose will depend on your normal intake of omega-3s among other factors.
While we recommend a daily dosage of omega-3 for bodybuilding between 2000 and 3000mg per day (as used in a study that found improved muscle function) for healthy adults, you should consult a doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet or supplement regime.
Fish Oil vs Omega-3 Supplements
When tracking your fish oil intake, you need to consider both diet and supplement sources, as eating oily fish can contribute as much fish oil as a dose of supplements.
In theory, getting your fish oil from eating fish is more desirable, since it is a whole food that provides plenty of nutrients and protein – all good for bodybuilding – though this isn’t always feasible.
How To Calculate Your Fish Oil Dosage
While eating the FDA-recommended 8 ounces of seafood a week is easy for most, it won’t get you close to the 2,400mg a day levels that provided noticeable effects in the studies we mentioned.
Suffice it to say that most bodybuilders aren’t recommending salmon fillets as the best fish oil for bodybuilding, so stick to fish oil supplements for easy and reliable dosages.
Let’s put these calculations into practice using a hypothetical example:
James is trying to get 2000-3000mg of fish oil a day and has just bought fish oil supplements that contain 600mg of omega-3s per capsule, so how many capsules should he take a day based on his fish intake?
- No Fish Day: On this day, James doesn’t want to eat any fish, which means he will need to take 4 or 5 capsules to get 2400-3000mg of omega-3s.
- Light Fish Day: On this day, James eats a little fish (like a fillet of salmon for dinner) and gets roughly 1800mg of omega-3s, meaning he needs to take 1 fish oil capsule as well.
- Heavy Fish Day: Today, James is going all out on a fishy feast (maybe his buddy came back from a big fishing trip or he has a coupon for Red Lobster) and gets a whopping 2.5 grams of omega-3s from his diet. No pills are needed today!
When Is The Best Time To Take Fish Oil?
Most research suggests that the benefits of fish oil are associated with long-term use, so it doesn’t really matter if you take your supplements in the morning, noon or night.
Even if you think you have best fish oil for bodybuilding, adding it to your pre-workout protein shake (bad idea by the way) isn’t going to give you better results than taking it in the evening.
While you can technically take your fish oil supplements at any time of the day, most people recommend that you take them:
Taking your fish oil supplements with a meal helps maximise absorption, especially if your meal includes a good source of fat, as this increases the bioavailability of omega-3s.
Furthermore, taking fish oil with a meal reduces certain side effects like indigestion and belching, meaning that the best fish oil for bodybuilding may be one taken with a fatty meal, somewhat counter-intuitively.
As many bodybuilders will tell you, the key to results is consistency – if you take your fish oil at roughly the same time everyday, then you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time!
Whether you prefer to get your daily dose out of the way with breakfast or in the evening with dinner, find what works for you and stick with it to experience the long-term benefits of fish oil.
Can Fish Oil Cause Weight Gain?
As bodybuilding celebrates lean muscle and chiseled physiques, watching your weight is a serious concern for bodybuilders.
Many bodybuilders follow strict diets and closely monitor their fat intake (especially if they practice a keto diet), so adding more fats, even if they are the best fish oil for bodybuilding can seem like a big no-no.
However, as anyone who’s ever heard of keto diets will tell you – the idea that fat causes weight gain is a big, fat lie!
By eating plenty of healthy fats – think more marbled steak and less processed candy bars – and exercising, you burn off those calories whilst giving your body the building blocks of proteins and fats to make big, healthy muscles.
Can Omega-3 Fish Oil Help You LOSE Weight?
Gram for gram, fats are far more energy-dense than other nutrients like carbohydrates, so they help you work out longer and harder, potentially negating their dietary impact with exercise.
Rather than avoiding fats altogether, you should increase your intake of healthy fats with the best fish oil for bodybuilding and to feed your gains.
Furthermore, fish oil supplements are unlikely to throw off even the most calorie-controlled diets as a teaspoon of fish oil (approximately a day’s dose) contains roughly 45 calories.
For more details on losing weight with a high-fat diet, we strongly suggest you investigate keto dieting, which has numerous benefits for people looking to lose weight and build muscle.
What Is the Best Fish Oil to Take?
Fish oil derived from fatty fish like herring, mackerel, and anchovies, is one of the most popular dietary supplements in the world, offering a variety of health benefits thanks to their omega-3 fatty acid content.
These health benefits are primarily caused by two types of Omega-3 fatty acids – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – so you should try to find a fish oil rich in EPA and DHA when looking for the best fish oil for bodybuilding.
When looking for the best fish oil – whether you prefer it in raw oil form or packaged up in capsule-based supplements – you should make sure that the fish oil you buy is high in DHA and EPA.
Regardless of the manufacturer or type of fish the oil is from, by making sure that your choice is high in the active ingredients of fish oil you’re sure to see results.
We hope that this article on the best fish oil for bodybuilding has helped you appreciate this humble supplement as something more than a foul-tasting liquid your mom made you drink when you were young.
This oily wonder is good for a lot more than keeping your joints working smoothly, so why not try adding some omega-3s into your workout routine for enhanced results?
Whether you prefer your omega-3 in pure fish oil or supplement form, we hope that you’re getting enough to keep you in good health and remember to consult a doctor before taking Omega-3 supplements, as they may affect your medication and/or existing conditions.