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Fish Oil for Bodybuilders: Benefits & How Much You Need


Fish Oil for Bodybuilders: Benefits & How Much You Need
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Being a bodybuilder comes with all sorts of dietary restrictions and recommendations. From carefully constructed meal plans to specific supplement regimens – it’s hard to keep up!

But before you go crazy googling how much protein powder your smoothie needs, don’t forget about one of the staple supplements for bodybuilders: fish oil.

It may not sound as exciting as flashy BCAA powder or pre-workout drinks, but trust us when we say that without fish oil to round out your nutrient program, you might miss out on some serious results.

In this article, we'll explain why fish oil is essential for bodybuilders and how much they should consume daily - so let's get started.

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and it's extracted from the tissues of fatty fish like salmon, herring, halibut, and mackerel. These omega-3s are essential for your body since it can't produce them independently.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the two most important types found in fish oil, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), you should aim to eat a minimum of 8 ounces of fish per week to take advantage of these vital fatty acids.

If you're not a fan of seafood, fear not — you can also get some omega-3s from other foods such as pine nuts, walnuts, and flaxseeds - albeit in a less active form than what's found in fish oil.

How Much Fish Oil Do You Need for Bodybuilding?

As recommended by professionals, 2,000–3,000 mg per day of EPA and DHA can make all the difference in building lean muscle and reducing inflammation.

However, given the vast array of fish oil supplements out there, it’s essential to pay attention to nutrition labels – even within product lines that purport identical doses of EPA and DHA, you may find disparities in their various types of fish and processing methods used.

According to the European Food Safety Authority, these supplements are generally well-tolerated and can take up to 5,000 mg daily safely. Don't expect to cruise with no side effects though - frequently reported issues such as an unpleasant aftertaste, burping, heartburn, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea may still arise if you take more than several doses.

Benefits of Fish Oil for Bodybuilders

Fish oil is an essential component for bodybuilders and even the general population, so you need to know some potential benefits of fish oil.

Reduces Muscle Soreness

Working out often leaves us feeling sore, and that's surprisingly common. We can expect to feel sore within 12-72 hours after starting a new exercise or pushing ourselves too hard. This phenomenon, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), affects many bodybuilders.

It often decreases motivation and workout performance too. Good thing there are ways to relieve the associated pain and discomfort: massage therapy and fish oil supplementation are two popular methods.

In one randomized study, when 21 men took 2,400 mg of fish oil supplemented with 600 mg EPA and 260 mg DHA daily for eight weeks, they experienced less DOMS plus prevented temporary muscle strength loss than the control group.

So don't be discouraged by the feeling of post-workout soreness – with a bit of care, you can stay motivated and on top form in no time.

Improves Athletic Performance

Fish oil may be the secret ingredient for better workouts - at least according to some research. Research suggests that EPA and DHA, which are found in fish oil, can help improve performance when exercising; by curbing inflammation levels, it’s possible to prevent or reduce a decline in strength, range of motion, and muscle swelling. It promotes instant recovery.

In one study, 16 men took 2,400 mg of fish oil daily (with 600 mg of EPA and 260 mg of DHA) over 8 weeks before doing 5 sets of 6 bicep contractions; they maintained muscle force throughout the exercise and had less muscle swelling than those taking a placebo.

It was also observed in another 8-week study with 21 men that taking the same amount of fish oil every day meant their temporary loss of muscle strength and range of motion decreased after exercise. So if you want to stay fighting fit, fish oils can help maintain your fitness gains.

Improves Joint Health

As we age, it's essential to keep muscle mass in mind. Sadly, muscle mass declines by 0.1-0.5% each year after age 30, with a greater rate of deterioration after 65 years old.

While conventional methods like resistance training and increased protein intake can help slow the process, more is needed. Remember that a fish oil regimen may have added benefits to older adults’ muscles.

A 16-week study found daily omega-3s supplementation enhanced the muscle growth of those participating. If you're going up there in years and trying to hold on to your muscle mass, adding some fish oil might be the extra edge you need.

Risks and Consideration

Fish oil is a trendy supplement that many people use for various reasons like improved heart health or weight management. With the plethora of potential benefits, it’s easy to forget that there are possible risks associated with taking fish oil supplements.

There can also be some mild side effects associated with their use. These may include,

  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Strong-smelling sweat.

While these don't usually cause significant problems or health concerns, they can be uncomfortable. They should be considered if you add fish oil to your daily routine.


1. Which is the best fish oil for muscle growth?

Fish oil supplements are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, aiding muscle recovery and performance. Look for those with high EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

2. How can I incorporate fish oil into my daily routine?

The simplest way to add fish oil into any diet is to take capsules daily as directed. Another option is adding it with other foods — try using fish oil as an ingredient while cooking, like making a marinade, or mix it in with yogurt, smoothies, and soups for extra flavor. Finally, many people enjoy the fish oil flavor, so don't forget to try out some recipes that require the liquid form of the supplement.

3. What are the benefits of fish oil for bodybuilders?

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids essential in building and repairing muscles. Not only does it help with increased muscle growth, but the fatty acids in fish oil also enable bodybuilders to get more out of their workouts due to improved energy levels and endurance.

Additionally, not only does it improve muscle strength, but it can also help reduce inflammation after strenuous workouts, supporting faster recovery times.

4. How much fish oil should bodybuilders take?

Bodybuilders should consume 3-4g of EPA/DHA daily from fish oil supplements, although dosages may be higher or lower depending on factors such as an individual's size and activity level.

The Bottom Line

Fish oil is essential for bodybuilders and their health to carry out strenuous activities involving weights. Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and is extracted from tissues of fatty fish like salmon, herring, halibut, and mackerel. EPA and DHA are the two most important types of fish oil, and 8 ounces should be consumed to take advantage of the oil.

Fish oil has plenty of benefits that are excellent for bodybuilders. It reduces muscle soreness, improves muscle health, and improves athletic performance. With benefits, it also has some side effects like nausea, bad breath, heartburn, unpleasant smell, headaches, and diarrhea. Certain fish oil supplements can be easily incorporated into the bodybuilders' diet and benefit them in achieving their goals.

Reading List

Article Sources

  • Ochi, Eisuke, et al. ‘Effect of Eicosapentaenoic Acids-Rich Fish Oil Supplementation on Motor Nerve Function after Eccentric Contractions’. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 14, 2017, p. 23. PubMed,
  • Lalia, Antigoni Z., et al. ‘Influence of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Skeletal Muscle Protein Metabolism and Mitochondrial Bioenergetics in Older Adults’. Aging, vol. 9, no. 4, Apr. 2017, pp. 1096–129. PubMed,
  • Ochi, Eisuke, et al. ‘Eicosapentaenoic Acid-Rich Fish Oil Supplementation Inhibits the Decrease in Concentric Work Output and Muscle Swelling of the Elbow Flexors’. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 38, no. 2, Feb. 2019, pp. 125–31. PubMed,
  • Ochi, Eisuke, et al. ‘Effect of Eicosapentaenoic Acids-Rich Fish Oil Supplementation on Motor Nerve Function after Eccentric Contractions’. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 14, 2017, p. 23. PubMed,

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