Most keen athletes are astutely focused on their protein intake, as well as their micros and macros.
Naturally, your level of activity will impact the amount of protein that you should consume. But there’s more to it...
What if I told you that there was a secret ingredient that would help reduce inflammation, reduce recovery time and enhance performance?
That’s what we’ll be exploring in this article.
What should you do to reduce recovery time and boost performance?
While enhancing heart and brain health. Let’s dive right in.
The Three “Rs” of Nutritional Recovery
The three Rs of nutritional recovery are rehydration, refuel and repair. When all three are consumed, you’ll experience faster recovery rates.
When omega-3s are consumed with protein, there’s increased recovery. When you exercise you also create a lot of free radicals, that can damage your overall health. Thankfully omega-3s help reduce free radical damage. Protecting your ligaments, joints and muscles from damage.
Rehydration is an obvious one. However, it’s important to ensure that you consume enough electrolytes. Refuelling and repair are done best when athletes consume adequate nutrition. Including omega-3s and healthy sources of protein.
Omega-3 in Muscle Volume and Loss
In a 2019 study, 20 healthy young women were recruited and split into two groups. One group took a daily 5g dose of omega-3s, while the other group took a placebo of sunflower oil, for 4 weeks.
After 4 weeks of supplementation, all participants had one of their legs cast in a leg brace and were instructed to refrain from exercise (other than walking and general activities). After two weeks of having one of their legs immobilised the women were given a further two weeks to recover prior to resuming weekly exercise.
Interestingly, the group that took the sunflower oil placebo had a reduction of lean leg muscle mass of 6%. While the group taking the daily omega-3 supplement saw no significant muscle loss.
Researcher Chris McGlory PhD chalked this down to omega-3s increasing the rate of protein synthesis, stating, “That means it helps produce proteins to help your body build and repair muscle.”
Omega-3s Fuel Muscle Growth (While Helping You Burn Fat)
Omega-3s play an important role in protein synthesis. The process that turns the food you eat into muscle.
One 2012 study of healthy men and women who were given a daily 4g supplement of omega-3s for 8 weeks, found that omega-3s helped build and maintain muscle mass. The researchers discovered that insulin and amino acids were up-regulated with omega-3 supplementation.
In another study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers found that omega 3s help your body use fat as fuel. 44 men and women received 4g fish oil or a placebo of safflower oil. They found that increased omega-3s helped burn excess fat while increasing lean muscle mass.
Omega-3 and Muscle Inflammation & DOMS
Inflammation occurs after micro-tares are created in muscles after intense exercise. Inflammation isn’t all bad, it’s your body’s way to protect itself.
However, often there’s too much inflammation that causes pain and discomfort after exercise. That’s where taking a daily omega-3 supplement comes in.
Most people don’t consume enough omega-3s in their diet, leading to increased risk of inflammation and other diseases that are caused by inflammation.
Such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and rheumatoid arthritis.
One undesirable side effect of rigorous exercise is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Understandably, athletes and bodybuilders alike look for ways to reduce the effects of DOMS, so that they can train every day without the discomfort afterwards.
There are several ways to reduce DOMS such as – massage, hydration, sleep and active recovery. Additionally, recent research published in 2020 has shown that high doses of fish oil (omega-3s) can reduce recovery and soreness post-exercise.
In the study of 32 college-aged, resistance-trained males, subjects took either 2, 4 or 6g of omega-3 supplementation per day for 7 weeks. The result? The group that took 6g per day experienced increased performance and lower soreness after vigorous exercise.
Learn more: Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Are You Getting Enough?
Can You Take Omega 3 With Protein Powder?
The short answer is quite categorically – yes! Omega-3s up-regulate protein synthesis, and as such protein powder is fantastic when coupled with omega-3 supplementation.
In one 2018 study, football players were given a 6-week supplementation of daily fish oil, combined with whey protein and carbohydrates. The football players were split into 3 groups and they were all given 2 x 200ml drinks.
Group one consumed a beverage of fish oil with n-3PUFA (1100 mg DHA/550 mg EPA), whey protein (15 g), leucine (1.8 g), and carbohydrate (20 g). The second group drank a protein beverage that contained whey protein (15 g), leucine (1.8 g), and carbohydrate (20 g). And the third group drank a carbohydrate supplement beverage that contained carbohydrate (24 g).
The first group saw a decrease in muscle soreness and higher blood concentrations of creatine kinase.
Related: The World’s Weirdest Protein Powder
How Long Does it Take for Omega-3 Supplements to Work?
Although you may see the benefit of taking omega-3 within 6 weeks, it can sometimes take up to 6 months to see significant improvements.
Therefore, as with many things in life – consistency and patience is key. Once you’ve decided on the appropriate dose, make sure to take your omega-3 supplements daily. Ideally with foods containing fat, such as nuts or avocado.
Omega-3s when consumed with protein significantly reduces both fatigue and muscle soreness. While allowing your body to burn fat and increase muscle mass. Can’t say better than that!
If you’re keen to enhance your athletic performance, then ensuring that you consume adequate amounts of protein and omega-3s while staying properly hydrated, is a must.
Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.
The three Rs of nutritional recovery are rehydration, refuel and repair.