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For Fitness & Health Alike... Are You Using Fish Oil Right?

For most in the lifting game, taking vitamins each day is an afterthought. Sure, we know there are benefits which can be derived from taking our vitamins. For the most part, that involves taking vitamin C so we don’t get sick, and can keep training. Now and then, vitamin E creeps in as a solution to acne, and we give that a shot.  As time passes, perhaps we learn the added energy benefits that Vitamin B can deliver.  But something like fish oil is so far down the line that most people never even consider giving it a shot, until they reach their 40s or 50s, when heart and cardiovascular health become a concern.  Many lifters are not aware of the many benefits of fish oil they can see by adding it to their current nutritional regimen, no matter their age. Ready to dive in?

First, let’s learn about the added benefits which fish oil delivers. Fish oils, or Omega-3 fatty acids, are among the best friends a bodybuilder can have. Your cardiovascular system becomes nearly invincible, and among older lifters, the risk of death from sudden heart attack is cut in half. Your insulin sensitivity improves, and your body becomes a fat-burning machine. Most importantly, you reduce inflammation in your body, which is the absolute enemy of the bodybuilder. Inflammation leads to sickness, long-term disease, and spiked cortisol levels, which consumes muscle and leads to greater levels of body fat. 

Better diet choices can also help obtain greater added benefit from fish oil supplementation. Many of the foods you are regularly consuming are actually working against your omega-3 absorption. The goal of food manufacturers is to produce a product with a longer shelf life, so that it can survive transport and sale, as well as last a week or three in the home of the consumer. Leaves, a major part of many food products, spoil quickly due to their high content of Omega-3 fatty acids. Manufacturers will remove these essential and useful fatty acids during production. This means food lasts longer, but arrives with a lower nutritional content. Seeds and grains which deliver between 60 and 90% of the world’s food supply are purposely reduced in quality to allow for longer time before spoilage. As a result, we have food which delivers less benefit for our bodies.

There isn’t going to be much we can do to change the food production process.  However, by recognizing that highly processed foods do rob your body of the opportunity to consume healthy vitamins and minerals (and fatty acids) at each meal, one can make the conscious decision to change up dining habits to include supplementation to cover this chasm. Even actual fish – which is often fed this reduced quality grain, lack the optimal level of Omega-3 fatty acids that you would desire. Thus, no matter how well you are currently eating, you would benefit from supplementation.

Human beings spend most of their adult lives fighting inflammation. They take acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen, and higher level drugs as well, to reduce pain which results from inflammation. Omega-3’s deliver the added benefits of these NSAIDs and other compounds naturally, making the cells stronger and slowing the clotting process. 

This generation of lifters have achieved what no level of athlete previously has been able to achieve. Powerlifters are lifting more than ever before, and virtually every lifting record has been shattered in the last decade – and will likely continue to be destroyed – as the levels of nutrition, training methodology, and recovery, grow more and more advanced.  Look at the bodybuilders on the Mr. Olympia stage today. They dwarf even the great Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday.  It’s not likely that the legendary Arnold could even win a regional show today, clear evidence of the advancements made in the muscle building realm. And there is no reason why this insurgence of achievement cannot extend to the health realm as well. With so many supplementation options available, and such a huge array of information available as to how the body works and how to make it work better, it seems this generation has enough tools at its disposal to live longer, healthier and happier lives as a result of their better food choices – are you up to that challenge?

Now, if you’ve ever taken fish oil before, then you probably are already well aware of the fishy after-taste. Burp anytime in the next hour and it feels like you have a mouthful of tilapia, and not in a good way. For some, that’s enough of a turn-off to drop the use of the supplement altogether. However, by eating it with meals and washing it down with a strong-tasting beverage, you can minimize the amount of fishy taste you’ll have to endure. If you still cannot get over the taste, you should try the “burp-less” version which has recently become available. All of the added health benefits with none of the negative taste… who can beat that? 

Add several fish oil capsules to your daily nutritional plan. Use your training journal to record the changes and benefits derived from this addition. You might discover you’re leaner, stronger, and recover faster from workouts. You may notice you grow sick less often and just have a better overall sense of health. Your cardiovascular improvement on the treadmill and elliptical may improve as well. Above all, you’ll rest easy with the assurance that you are doing everything possible to boost your current viability as well as long-term health. Good luck!

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