Find out everything you need to know about the benefits of omega 3 for athletes and active people in this in-depth guide!
Athletes are among the most elite performers in the world – constantly looking for new ways to gain an edge over their opponents. And if they don’t get their nutrition right, it’s easy to fall physically and mentally behind the competition.
One nutrient that often flies under the radar but can be hugely beneficial for athletes are omega-3 fatty acids. Found in fish oil and certain plant sources, omega-3s have been shown to support brain health, improve joint function and reduce inflammation – all of which can lead to better performance in the gym and on the field.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at five benefits of omega 3 for athletes and active people and the best sources of this essential nutrient.
Let’s get started!
What Are Omega-3s?
You’ll always look for ways to improve your performance and recovery as an athlete. You may have heard of omega-3s and their potential benefits, but what are they exactly?
Involved in many important processes in the body, omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that the body can’t make on its own – meaning we have to get them either through our diet or supplements.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
While all omega-3s are beneficial, DHA and EPA tend to be the most well-researched and offer the most health benefits, especially for athletes. That’s because they can be directly used by the body, unlike ALA, which has to be converted into a usable form – a process that isn’t very efficient.
For this reason, it’s important to include sources of DHA and EPA in your diet or supplement regimen if you’re looking to reap the most benefits from omega-3s.
5 Benefits of Omega 3 for Athletes
Whether you’re a professional athlete or just someone who likes to stay active, omega-3s can help you perform at your best in multiple ways, including:
1. Omega-3s improve heart health
The heart is a vital organ for athletes, and omega-3s can help keep it healthy. They can lower blood pressure and heart rate and reduce the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States .
2. Omega-3s reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a common issue for athletes, and omega-3s can help reduce it by lowering levels of inflammatory markers in the body. This can lead to faster recovery from injury and less pain during training.
3. Omega-3s boost brain health
Athletes need to be sharp mentally as well as physically, and omega-3s can help with that. They can improve cognitive function, memory, and reaction time – benefiting competition.
4. Omega-3s support joint health
Joint pain is another common issue for athletes, especially as they age. Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation and pain in the joints and improve joint function overall. When you’re able to move more freely, you can perform better in the gym or on the field.
5. Omega-3s improve skin health
Omega-3s can also benefit your skin, vital for athletes constantly exposing themselves to the sun and other elements. They can help reduce inflammation and keep the skin hydrated, leading to a healthier complexion.
How Can Athletes Get More Omega 3s In Their Diet?
As you’ll already know, diet is important for athletes. The right foods can improve performance, speed up recovery and build muscle, while the wrong ones can do the opposite.
When it comes to omega-3s, here are a few popular sources:
- Fatty fish: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring are all excellent sources of omega-3s. Aim to eat two to three servings per week.
- Fish oil: Fish oil is a concentrated source of omega-3s in the form of EPA and DHA. It can be taken in capsule form or added to smoothies, shakes, or other recipes.
- Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are a plant-based source of omega-3s. They can be added to yogurt, oatmeal, baked goods, and more.
- Chia seeds: Like flaxseeds, chia seeds are also a plant-based source of omega-3s. They can be added to the same types of foods as flaxseeds or used to make a delicious pudding.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are a nut with high omega-3 content. They make a great snack on their own or can be added to salads, trail mix, and more.
While it’s best to get your omega-3s from whole food sources, supplements can be a helpful way to increase your intake if you’re not eating enough fish or plants.
When choosing a supplement, look for one that contains EPA and DHA like Performance Lab Omega-3, as these are the most well-researched and beneficial forms of omega-3s. Also, choose a high-quality supplement from a reputable brand to ensure purity and potency.
We’d recommend going plant-based, more specifically algae, as this is where fish get their omega-3s from in the first place. This way, you’re getting them straight from the source, and you don’t have to worry about mercury or other contaminants often found in fish.
How Much Omega 3 For Athletes?
As an athlete, you must ensure you get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. But how much should you be taking per day?
The recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids is 1.1-1.6 grams. However, if you’re training hard and exercising regularly, you may need more than this. Some studies have shown that athletes can benefit from taking 2-3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily.
If you’re not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from your diet, you may consider going down the supplement route. This is especially true if you don’t eat fish or other sources of omega-3s regularly.
Final Thoughts on Omega 3 for Athletes
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that is important for athletes because it supports many aspects of health and performance.
So, now you know the benefits of omega-3s for athletes and how to get more in your diet, make sure to include these healthy fats in your nutrition plan. Your body will thank you!