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Last Updated on February 23, 2021

How Fish Oil Supplements Can Help You Lose Weight

How Fish Oil Supplements Can Help You Lose Weight

Do you want to lose weight? If so, doing something as simple as taking a fish oil supplement can help you lose a few extra pounds each month. Unlike most weight loss supplements that usually contain caffeine and other stimulants, it doesn’t make you feel jittery and nervous. Your energy levels will never come crashing down a couple hours after taking it either.

Unlike weight loss supplements your overall health will benefit from fish oil. In addition to helping you lose weight, taking fish oil every day can help your brain, heart, and joints health. No weight loss supplement on the market can make these claims.

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In this article I list and explain 4 different ways fish oil supplements can help you lose weight. After reading them you will see how this inexpensive and popular product can give your weight loss program — and overall health — a boost.

  1. Fish Oil Enables You Lose Fat and Build Muscle. Simply popping a couple of fish oil capsules daily can help you lose fat and build muscle. All you need to do is take enough every day. The study I review below reveals just how much. In this study, subjects took about 2 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) every day for 6 weeks. At the end of the study they lost more than 2 lbs. of body fat. The subjects also gained about 1 pound. What’s really cool about this is that they didn’t exercise, change their diet, or do anything else to lose weight. All it took was taking a couple of high dose fish oil capsules every day.
  2. Fish Oil Supplements Decrease Your Appetite. If you want to stay full longer between meals, popping a couple of fish oil capsules after you eat may help. In one study, women who did this stayed full longer after their meal and ate less overall. Over time, this will help you lose weight without feeling hungry and suffering with the hunger pangs that occur when we diet. The most likely reason fish oil helps you stay full is that it is able to regulate the release of a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin helps to regulate your appetite and mood. This effect is also what gives fish oil its antidepressant benefits.
  3. Fish Oil Makes Your Diet and Weight Loss Workout Program More Effective. Taking a fish oil supplement can make your diet and exercise program more effective too. In one study, subjects taking fish oil lost more weight than those taking a placebo supplement. Both groups followed a diet that had them eating less and also had them working out several times a week.
  4. Fish Oil Helps Minimizes Fat Storage. One study shows that fish oil supplements can minimize the risk that the food you eat is stored as fat. This is because it increases something called insulin sensitivity. Keeping the cells of your body sensitive to insulin is key to losing weight and staying healthy. The reason it’s so important is that the more sensitive your cells are to insulin, the less likely it is that the food you eat will be stored as fat.

What to Look for When Buying Fish Oil

When you’re shopping for a fish oil supplement, make sure you buy one that’s guaranteed to be free of impurities and potentially harmful substances like heavy metals and pesticides. The supplement you choose should also state on its label that it is concentrated. This means you’ll get the most possible Omega 3 fatty acids per serving. A good product will contain at least 750 mg of the EPA and DHA, the Omega 3s that give fish oil its benefits per capsule.

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What to Expect When You Take Fish Oil

Research shows that taking 2-3 grams of fish oil daily can help you lose about 2 pounds a month. While this isn’t a lot, it adds up over time. It also doesn’t require any extra effort and costs very little. Following a diet that eliminates processed foods and simple sugars and performing a proven and effective weight loss workout 3-5 days a week will enable you to lose weight even faster.

Determining Your Daily Fish Oil Dose

Figuring out how much fish oil is in every capsule you take is easy. All you need to do is look at the Supplement Facts label on the product’s bottle. In this panel look for the amounts of DHA and EPA in every serving.

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I like to think of taking fish oil for weight loss as a bonus. You lose a few extra pounds you wouldn’t have otherwise, and get lots of other health related benefits too. Given that there are no side effects and minimal risk for a healthy person to take fish oil, it’s definitely a winning proposition.

References

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  1. Hill AM, Buckley JD, Murphy KJ, Howe PR. Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1267-74.
  2. Noreen E, Sass M, Crowe M, Pabon V, Brandauer J. Averill L. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:31.
  3. Parra D, Ramel A, Bandarra N, Kiely M, Martínez JA, Thorsdottir I. A diet rich in long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulates satiety in overweight and obese volunteers during weight loss. Appetite. 2008 Nov;51(3):676-80.
  4. Ramel A, Martinéz A, Kiely M, Morais G, Bandarra NM, Thorsdottir I. Beneficial effects of long-chain n-3 fatty acids included in an energy-restricted diet on insulin resistance in overweight and obese European young adults. Diabetologia. 2008 Jul;51(7):1261-8.
  5. Thorsdottir I, Tomasson H, Gunnarsdottir I, Gisladottir E, Kiely M, Parra MD, Bandarra NM, Schaafsma G, Martinéz JA. Randomized trial of weight-loss-diets for young adults varying in fish and fish oil content. Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Oct;31(10):1560-6.

Featured photo credit: Anshu A via unsplash.com

More by this author

Curt Pedersen

Curt is the founder of Stayfitcentral.com, a blog that helps you build the body you deserve.

Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss for Beginners (A How-to Guide) How Fish Oil Supplements Can Help You Lose Weight How to Build Muscle Fast: 5 Fitness and Nutrition Hacks 3 Weight Loss Hacks to Help You Lose 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks Hack Your Weight Loss Workout – Lose Weight In 15 Minutes a Day

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Published on June 17, 2021

Flaxseed Oil vs Fish Oil: Which Is Better?

Flaxseed Oil vs Fish Oil: Which Is Better?

Both flaxseed oil and fish oil supplements are sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have so many known benefits, such as having a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, glaucoma, and stroke. This nutrient is essential for the body’s function, but our bodies are unable to produce them on their own. That’s why you should get enough Omega-3 fatty acids from outside sources as well.

In this article, I’ll discuss flaxseed oil vs fish oil and their various benefits and drawbacks to help you quickly make a more informed decision about which one of these is right for you.

Are These Supplements Safe?

According to the National Institutes of Health, side effects experienced by users of fish oil supplements, if any, are usually mild. These side effects may include unpleasant taste, bad breath, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms. This could include symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or heartburn.[1]

In terms of possible medication interactions, it’s noted that fish oil supplements may interfere with medicines that many Americans take to prevent blood clotting. If you’re on one of these medications or if you have a seafood allergy, it’s important to speak with your doctor before deciding to start taking Omega-3 supplements.

Regarding the safety of flaxseed oil supplements, according to Mayo Clinic, these supplements are also generally considered to be safe. However, they report that if taken in excess and without sufficient intakes of water, users may experience various gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms include bloating, gas, and diarrhea.[2]

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also advise that these supplements should not be taken during pregnancy. This is because some studies suggest that taking flaxseed oil later in pregnancy may increase the risk of premature birth.[3]

Mayo Clinic notes that, like fish oil supplements, flaxseed oil may also have negative interactions with some medications. Specifically, it’s important to consult your doctor before starting these medications if you’re on medications to reduce blood clotting, lower blood pressure, or manage your diabetes as these may interact negatively with a flaxseed oil supplement.[4]

How Much Should You Take?

The tricky thing about these supplements is that there is no standard recommended dosage for any of them. To be safe, it is recommended that you read the label on the supplement you choose to buy and make sure to only take the recommended dosage.

Regardless of whether you’re taking a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement, you may benefit from speaking with your primary care doctor to determine what dosage is right for you. They may be able to work with you to come up with an appropriate dosage, which may help prevent unwanted side effects.

If you are interested in researching a particular brand of Omega-3 supplement, you can use the Dietary Supplement Label Database from the National Institutes of Health.[5]

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Flaxseed Oil vs. Fish Oil

Before we get into the various benefits of Fish Oil and Flaxseed Oil supplements, it’s important to have some basic knowledge about Omega-3 fatty acids.

There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA come mainly from fish while ALA comes mainly from plant sources such as flaxseed and walnuts.[6] This means that if you choose to take a fish oil supplement, you’ll be getting DHA and EPA, and if you choose a flaxseed oil supplement, you’ll be taking ALA.

Fish Oil Benefits

Fish Oil supplements typically contain oil that has been extracted from fatty fish, such as herring, tuna, or anchovies.[7] The Omega-3 found in fish oil is very important for our heart health. It can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and blood clots.[8] It can also help to reduce high blood pressure, which is common among adults in the United States.[9]

They can also help to reduce high cholesterol and plaque formation in your arteries.[10][11] They can also help reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, which occurs when the heart is either pumping irregularly or ineffectively, making it unable to pump blood as intended to the rest of your vital organs.[12]

These supplements may have non-cardiac benefits as well. Studies show that they can reduce your risk of glaucoma, certain cancers, and certain mental health disorders.[13][14][15]

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Some studies have also shown that including Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil in your lifestyle may lead to improved weight loss when combined with a healthful diet.[16]

Flaxseed Oil Benefits

As we’ve noted, flaxseed oil contains the third type of Omega-3 fatty acid, Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). What the body does with ALA is incredibly interesting. It actually converts it into DHA and EPA, which are the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.

Something important to note, however, is that the body is not all that efficient at converting ALA to DHA and EPA. This means that the benefits of ALA may not necessarily be the same as those that you would get from just taking DHA and EPA. Studies seem to be overall mixed on whether taking flaxseed oil provides the same cardiac benefits as fish oil does. Specifically, it’s unclear whether or not flaxseed oil supplementation can lower cholesterol or reduce your risk of heart disease.[17]

According to the National Institutes of Health, studies have shown that taking flaxseed may help individuals with type 2 diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels. However, it’s important to note that these findings are for flaxseed, no flaxseed oil. NIH does note that it is unclear whether flaxseed oil would provide such a benefit.[18]

One big health benefit of flaxseed oil is its possible cancer-fighting ability. Studies have shown that taking flaxseed oil can stop the growth of cancer cells as well as cause apoptosis or death of cancer cells in certain types of cancer. One study found that the types of cancer which saw benefits from flaxseed oil intakes included breast cancer, cervical cancer, leukemia, and melanoma.[19]

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Flaxseed Oil Vs Fish Oil: Which Should You Take?

When deciding whether to take flaxseed oil vs fish oil supplements, there are some important things to consider. As I’ve discussed, fish oil supplements are a great source of DHA and EPA. In contrast, flaxseed oil supplements provide ALA, which the body ends up converting back to DHA and EPA, although inefficiently.

Additionally, the benefits of fish oil seem to be more deeply studied and more overall conclusive than the benefits of flaxseed oil. Fish oil supplements have been shown to provide so many benefits, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, glaucoma, certain cancers, and various mental health disorders.

In contrast, the research regarding the benefits of flaxseed oil supplementation is lacking. While these supplements may have anti-cancer properties, the findings on further benefits are overall mixed.

In terms of safety, these two supplements come out relatively even. They’re both regarded as generally safe. However, both have interactions with various medications that need to be taken into consideration before starting supplementation.

If you’re trying to settle on an Omega-3 supplement, I recommend trying a fish oil supplement over a flaxseed oil supplement. Fish oil has so many proven benefits while the research on flaxseed oil is significantly less convincing. Fish oil also has the benefit of providing EPA and DHA directly, so your body does not need to do any extra work to convert it.

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If you choose to take a fish oil supplement, know that you’ll be quickly reducing your risk of various chronic diseases with overall very minimal effort on your part. As always, make sure to check with your doctor before starting any supplementation to prevent negative side effects or drug interactions.

Featured photo credit: New Food Magazine via newfoodmagazine.com

Reference

[1] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Omega-3 Supplements: In-Depth
[2] Mayo Clinic: Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
[3] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
[4] Mayo Clinic: Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
[5] National Institutes of Health: Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD)
[6] Harvard School of Public Health: Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution
[7] Healthline: What’s the Difference Between Cod Liver Oil and Fish Oil?
[8] Cleveland Clinic: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
[9] PubMed.gov: Moderate consumption of fatty fish reduces diastolic blood pressure in overweight and obese European young adults during energy restriction
[10] ResearchGate: Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and growth and development
[11] PubMed.gov: Effect of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation on endothelial function: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
[12] Mayo Clinic: Ventricular fibrillation
[13] TVST: Oral Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Intraocular Pressure in Normotensive Adults
[14] PubMed.gov: Dietary fatty acids and colorectal cancer: a case-control study
[15] PubMed.gov: Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids for indicated prevention of psychotic disorders: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial
[16] PubMed.gov: Randomized trial of weight-loss-diets for young adults varying in fish and fish oil content
[17] Mount Sinai: Flaxseed oil
[18] NIH: Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
[19] NCBI: Treatment with flaxseed oil induces apoptosis in cultured malignant cells

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