What’s the Deal with the Fish Oil?
If you’ve been a member for more than a week or two, you’ve probably heard your coaches advocate taking fish oil. But why?
Here’s what you need to know: Fish oil contains the Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, that help your body recover from intense training like CrossFit. EPA and DHA are just good for you in general. They are natural anti-inflammatory agents important for brain and heart health, protection against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression. They can also improve skin conditions, fetal brain development, inflammatory bowel disorders and arthritis. Good stuff!
Once upon a time, people got enough of these important nutrients by eating a healthy diet of varied plants and animals. This was when our beef was all grass-fed, our eggs all came from pastured chickens and our fish were all wild-caught. Unfortunately, that is not the case today. Our industrialized farm-raised cows, chickens and even fish are fed grains (and hormones and antibiotics). EPA and DHA is not present in conventional animal sources in significant amounts. Because of this we recommend that you take a high-quality fish oil with high concentrations of EPA and DHA.
How much should you take? Most CrossFit athletes should take between 2 and 4 grams of EPA/DHA per day with meals. Read your labels! Most of the fish oil sold in general stores (like Costco and Walmart) and even supplement stores (like GNC) contains very little of the good stuff. The combined EPA and DHA amount per serving is what is important, not the total amount of fish oil! A high quality, concentrated source of EPA and DHA means you can take a smaller amount per day, which may actually be more cost effective than choking down 10-16 pills a day. In addition, you are not consuming excess Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids, which can be counterproductive to reducing inflammation. You’re also more likely to take your fish oil when the overall quantity is easier to swallow.
Where can you get good Fish Oil? We recommend squeaky-clean and highly concentrated fish oils. We carry Original Nutritionals line of Omega 3 Fish Oils. Other brands we recommend include Stronger Faster Healthier’s Super Omega 3 Fish Oil or Purepharma’s 03.
Now we have heard a few of you raise some objections to taking fish oil. Here are the most common concerns and our well-reasoned response:
“I don’t like fish burps.” Getting your EPA and DHA from highly concentrated source will reduce the fishy taste and the burps. The citrus flavored oils are oily, but don’t taste fishy at all. Some people chase their fish oil with fruit. Even if these measures do not completely eliminate the fishiness, the benefits of taking fish oil greatly outweigh the occasional objectionable belch.
“I would rather take something else” There are alternatives to fish oil including: Flax, algae and krill oil. They either do not work as well or cost an arm and a leg or both. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, algae oil is the preferred source, but it is expensive and often contains little EPA.
“I don’t take things”. Normally, we are with you here. Far too many athletes are too eager to ingest a powder, pill or concoction when they should just be eating good food. The problem is the industrial-agricultural complex has tinkered with your food. You need to restore the balance. Fish oil does that.
Of course, if you are concerned about how taking fish oil will affect a particular medical condition, you should discuss that with your doctor. You should especially talk to your doctor about taking fish oil if:
-You have a bleeding tendency
-You are on blood thinning medications
-You are about to have surgery
-Your job routinely places you at a high risk of being injured.
-You are pregnant (although the general consensus is that EPA, and especially DHA, is beneficial to your baby’s development and may reduce the risk of complications).
Otherwise, start taking your fish oil.