Fish oil and weight loss

Many people still struggle to lose weight despite the huge number of weight loss products and diet supplements on the market which would suggest that they might not be the ideal solution. However, one recent study has found that simply taking fish oil supplements on a daily basis could help promote weight loss and combat obesity.

The study was conducted by the University of South Australia in 2006 and without making any modifications to diet, those taking fish oil supplements and walking or running for 45 minutes three times a week lost an average of two and half kilograms of weight over the period of the trial whereas there was little difference in the other groups. Not only that, instruments used to measure body fat composition found that those taking the fish oil also had a significant reduction in body fat. The results suggest that weight loss can be accelerated when fish oil is combined with moderate amounts of exercise.

So why would fish oil make such a difference?

Fish oil contains the essential Omega 3 fatty acids Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and as these fats cannot be synthesised in the body, they have to be obtained from the diet. Most of us do not get adequate amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet and some health professionals believe that this is responsible for a number of diseases that are on the increase in the 21st Century such as heart disease, inflammatory diseases, allergies and even depression. So what impact does Omega 3 fatty acids have on our weight?

Many people who try to lose weight believe that they have to cut out as much fat as possible. This is simply not the case and indeed, extremely low fat diets can be harmful as the body needs a certain amount of fat to survive. The secret lies in getting the right kind of fat. The types of fats to be avoided are the “trans” fats or hydrogenated fats that are found in abundance in processed foods. This type of fat will not facilitate weight loss and indeed is harmful to the body in general. Omega 3 fatty acids on the other hand can improve fat metabolism.

Another important consideration is the amount of pro-inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids that are consumed in relation to the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are also essential but are generally abundant in Western diets in meat and dairy products, in vegetable oils and in processed foods. The important Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are only found in any significant quantities in oily fish like Salmon, Sardines, Tuna and Mackerel, and of course in fish oil supplements. The other plant based Omega 3 fatty acid is alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and this can be found in dark green leafy vegetables and flax seed oil but the body is not efficient at converting this into the really important EPA and DHA.

The truth is anyone who restricts calorie consumption and increases the amount of calories they burn off will eventually lose weight. However, it is healthy weight loss that is the ideal as this is the only way that the weight will come off and stay off. The South Australian study suggests that weight loss can be achieved by taking fish oil and some exercise without making any changes to the diet. It would be reasonable then to surmise that even greater results might be achieved by making some alterations to the diet along with taking fish oil and some moderate exercise.

Fish oil supplements

There are other health benefits to taking fish oil supplements than promoting a healthy weight loss. Fish oil is known to reduce inflammation and offer protection against heart disease and depression and a whole host of other health problems. You could also try adding more fish to your diet but the current recommendation is to limit consumption of fish due to the amount of toxins they can contain, like Mercury and PCBs for example. So, fish oil would seem the ideal way to get enough Omega 3 fatty acids into the diet to make a difference, however, a word of warning. As fish oils are produced from fish, they too can contain unhealthy levels of toxins unless it is high quality fish oil that has been through processes such as molecular distillation to remove these toxins so shop around for a good one first.

Conclusion

More research is required to establish just how effective fish oil is at promoting weight loss but in the meantime, there is every reason to believe that fish oil is certainly worth a try, not only might you shed some extra pounds, you could improve your general health too.