Something fishy? Fish oil supplements may not be key to muscle gains

Fish oil supplements are a favourite of those looking to build strength and improve muscle tone. But a new study from the University of Stirling found they could be a waste of money as they produced no significant improvement to muscle growth in healthy, resistance-trained young men.

Reporting their findings in the journal Physiological Reports, the exercise scientists revealed how 20 men who weight trained regularly were given the equivalent of 5g of fish oil every day for eight weeks.

Muscle biopsies were then taken before and after a trial in the laboratory where the participants performed a series of leg press and leg extension exercises after consuming 30 grammes of protein powder.

Professor Kevin Tipton of the School of Sport and his team analysed how much of the omega-3 fats from the fish oil – considered the most important component for muscle growth were taken up by the body’s cells.

“We found that when it comes to building lean muscle mass and repairing damaged proteins, these capsules do not seem to make much of a difference for healthy men already undertaking resistance training,” Professor Tipton says.

“We discovered there was no significant difference in the rate at which muscle adds new protein after exercise between participants who took the control capsule of coconut oil and those who ingested the fish oil supplements.”

This finding suggests that omega-3 capsules do not give you the advantage in the gym that many have suggested over the past few years.

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