Does Fish Oil Supplementation Improve Body Composition?

Does Fish Oil Supplementation Improve Body Composition?

Let’s face it, who among us doesn’t want to lose some flab from around our wait or other areas of our body?  At the same time, many of us also want to achieve a more toned and in some cases muscular physique.  We also live in a society where quick fixes and easy solutions prevail over common sense in some cases. In cities like Edmonton with long winters, it can be a challenge to stay lean and fit during the long winters if you don’t participate in outdoor sports.

To achieve the ‘fit’ look that most of us seek, there’s no question that it requires regular exercise (preferably a combination of resistance training and cardio) along with a healthy diet while watching our caloric intake.  At this point in time, the magical pill that will do this for us hasn’t been invented…  Or has it?

Ryan Reynold Six pack abs

Research on Fish Oil and Body Fat?

Researchers from Washington published their results of a study involving the effect of fish oil supplementation on body composition.  Specifically, they measured the effects of fish oil supplementation for six weeks on basal metabolic rate (BMR), body weight, fat mass, fat-free mass, body fat percentage, and salivary cortisol.

The study itself included 44 individuals of both genders who were randomized to consume either the placebo (Safflower Oil) or 4 g/day of fish oil supplying 1,600mg/d eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 800mg/d docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

In terms of the background for this study, the researchers noted that in rodent models, consumption of cold-water fish is linked to lower total body fat stores.  Though the mechanism for this is not yet understood, they noted that fish oil may have an effect on lipogenic gene suppression.

The specific fish oil used in this study was manufactured by Genuine Health Corporation from Toronto Canada.  It included taking 2 capsules with breakfast and 2 with dinner each day.  Each capsule itself from this company contains 400mg EPA and 200mg DHA.  The capsules from Genuine Health Corporation feature an enteric coating which presumably may reduce the “fish burps,” a common side effect of supplementation with fish oil.

Fish Oil Study Results:

Negative results:

  • No significant difference in body mass
  • No significant differences observed in metabolic rate

Positive results:

  • Significant increase in fat-free mass [FO = +0.5+0.5 kg; p=0.03]
  • Significant decrease in fat mass [FO = -0.5+1.3 kg; p=0.04]
  • Trend towards decrease in body fat percentage [FO = -0.4+1.3 %; p=0.08]
  • Possible reduction in salivary cortisol levels

The results of this study suggest that daily supplementation with fish oil for six weeks will significantly increase fat-free mass and decrease fat mass.  The participants in this study did not participate in an exercise regime and consumed a libitum diet.

Looking at the numbers themselves, the effect is not staggeringly large.  However, considering that the participants who consumed fish oil dropped half a kilogram of fat and gained that much lean muscle mass, it’s not too bad in the context of not working out.

Previous research suggests that fish oil consumption has numerous other health benefits including reducing cardiovascular risk.  For athletes, research also suggests that fish oil consumption may have an ergogenic effect on improving lung function.

In addition to exercising to get fit, some women seek to improve their appearance with lip fillers in Edmonton.


  1. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:31 (8 October 2010)
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