Friday, May 25, 2007

Can Fish Oils Make You Thin?

If you've read the news in the last couple of days then you've probably read all the headlines about a new study that shows that the combination fish oils and exercise can help you lose fat.

To quickly summarize the study, researchers randomly assigned 75 overweight men and women to one of four groups:

  • Group One took 6 grams of fish oil per day,
  • Group Two took 6 grams of fish oil per day and exercised 3 days per week;
  • Group Three took 6 grams of sunflower oil (the placebo), and
  • Group Four took 6 grams of sunflower oil and exercised 3 days per week.
After 12 weeks, the results showed the subjects in Group Two (The people taking fish oil and exercising) lost body fat.

The subjects in this group lost a little over 3 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. Definitely not extraordinary, but significant nonetheless.

So people who exercised lost some fat. In my opinion this was expected. What was not expected was that the sunflower plus exercise group did not lose any fat.

Now, these people also added exercise to their lifestyle, so you would expect them to also lose fat. So either the combination of fish oil and exercise somehow 'created' this extra fat loss, or, pardon the pun, something is fishy with this study.

On closer inspection of the data I noticed something that may account for these results.

While the fish oil plus exercise group reported that their daily calorie intake pretty much remained the same for the 12 weeks of the study, the sunflower plus exercise group saw their daily caloric intake increase by 327 Kcals per day by week 6 of the trial, and stay elevated by 230 Kcals at week 12.

While the researchers make no mention of this as being significant, it may help explain the lack of fat loss in the sunflower plus exercise group.

At the end of the day, caloric restriction and exercise are the only way to lose fat. The better your exercise program and the better your diet, the more fat you will lose. Plain and simple.

However, don't rule out fish oils. Most fish oil research finds that they can benefit blood lipids and your cholesterol profile.

Bottom line, Fish oils are good for you, just don't get your hopes up about them making you lose weight.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Anonymous said...

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brad7a0 said...

Hi Brad,

I was curious if during a fast I could take fish oil or any other pure fat and not disturb my insulin levels and effectively not break my fast?

I've been playing around with the Shangri-la diet technique of taking some oil between meals to help curb my hunger. It's worked surprisingly well. I then wondered if I could use it to "cheat" during a fast.