New research has discovered that omega-3 fatty acids can improve endurance by boosting muscle blood flow and VO2max, whilst lowering heart rate at maximal effort


Omega 3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat. Our bodies can’t produce them and they are therefore made from the food we eat. Omega-3s are usually associated with their ability to deal with injury or bacterial attacks through their inflammation function, and their positive benefits to our immune systems. They’re also great for reducing blood pressure and potential heart disease. Fish is a well-known source.

The recent study involved 13 elite cyclists, who were given 2.6g of omega-3s a day for a 3-week period (1). They performed a pre-intervention and post intervention maximum effort cycle ergometer test. It was found that when the cyclists took the omega-3 supplement their muscle blood flow was increased by over 5%, compared to those in the placebo-taking group. Their VO2max also increased from 69.8 ml/kg/min to 74.8ml/kg/min, whilst their maximum heart rate decreased at maximum effort from 195bpm to 186bpm.

In the UK the Department of Health recommends we consume two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish. Doing this will provide 2-3g of omega-3s. So how can you achieve higher endurance-boosting doses? You can eat more fish and other omega-3-rich food sources (see box), supplement with cod liver oil or you can even drink (specially formulated) fruit juice! (Smartfish Recharge sports recovery drinks are packed full of omega 3 fatty acids and healthy blends of berries, fruits and whey proteins.) Whatever the source of your omega-3s you’ll benefit from better overall health and with increased dosages potentially improve your training, performance and recovery.

The sources of omega-3

Salmon………………………………………..2.5g per 100g
Sardines (tinned)…………………….2.0g per 160g
Cod liver oil……………………………….1.2g per tsp
Walnuts……………………………………….2.6g per tbsp
Pumpkin seeds………………………..2.1g per 2 tbsp
Smartfish Recharge Lipid……2.5g per 200ml

With thanks to Smartfishnutrition.co.uk

References: 1.European Journal of Sport Science, 15:4, 305-314, DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2014.949310

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