Whether you are an avid Yogi, a bodybuilder, or someone new to the world of fitness, you can benefit from adding an Omega-3 supplement to your health regimen. While these long-chain fatty acids are most famous for their heart, joint, and brain health benefits, what you might not know is that they also accelerate muscle healing and reduce pain after a workout, helping you get the most out of all the hard work you put into being fit!
Fuel Your Body with Omega-3s
When you exercise, your body needs and derives energy from three primary dietary sources: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates are stored in the muscle or liver as a sugar called glycogen and are the body's initial source of energy during any physically grueling task. However, your body quickly runs out of this form of energy and then starts burning fat for fuel.
This is where the role of omega-3 fatty acids comes into play. After these healthy fats reach the cells in your body, they can be used for energy production as free fatty acids in a process called beta-oxidation. This process takes place in the mitochondria, known as the “powerhouse” of your cells. If you lack these essential fatty acids, it is possible that your muscles will become fatigued faster, especially after an intense workout session.
Cut Time Between Training Sessions with Omega-3s
For you to build muscle, you must first tear it down. After hitting the weights or any other intense strength training program hard, your muscles will sustain tiny microtears. These tears are what are believed to account for the post-workout muscle soreness you feel. Luckily, omega-3 fatty acids can mitigate this muscle soreness because they are potent anti-inflammatory agents that work similarly to the popular non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and naproxen., without the side effects!
During training sessions, your muscles consume lots of oxygen, and thereby generate molecules called free radicals. These are highly reactive, unstable oxygen molecules that will cause damage to your cells unless they are neutralized by our body’s own internal antioxidant systems. At first, your antioxidant defenses are sufficient to fight free radicals, but a longer, more strenuous workout session will eventually exhaust them. Once this happens, oxidative damage to your muscle cells occurs, leading to fatigue and soreness.
Well, Omega-3s have you covered there too, being as though they are also not just anti-inflammatory nutrients, but potent antioxidants as well. So, taking them before your workout can help counter free radical damage and thus limit muscle fatigue and soreness. Relief from muscle soreness will result in faster recovery time, which will ultimately allow you to take on your next workout session sooner!
Omega-3s Help Build Your Muscles
No matter how hard you workout, for you to add lean muscle mass to your body, your muscle protein synthesis needs to be greater than its protein breakdown (i.e., when the body is in an anabolic state). Evidence suggests that Omega-3 supplementation can augment muscle protein synthesis by regulating specific metabolic pathways. Further, Omega-3s may also slow down the activity of muscle-breakdown proteins, further pumping up your muscles and helping you reach your goal more easily.
Improve Endurance with Omega-3s
During exercise, your muscles need large amounts of oxygen, and Omega-3s help widen the blood vessels so that more blood, oxygen, and nutrients can reach your muscles. The enhanced blood flow will prevent fatigue, thus optimizing your performance! Omega-3s also reduce your peak heart rate as well as the amount of oxygen used up during exercise, thus curtailing your body’s demand for more energy. Fulfilling this energy need can result in greater stamina. And who couldn't use more of that?