Fish Oil and Weight Loss

Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial in preventing cardiovascular illness, but what about dieting? Can fish oil increase weight loss during dieting and exercise programs?

Studies on fish and direct weight loss have been conflicting. There is actually a good bit of research on the ability of fish oil to slow down the wasting symptoms of cancer and chemo patients. In a 1999 study on patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer, 1000 mgs of fish oil omega 3 in the form of EPA slowed down the extreme weight loss and wasting disease associated with cancer and chemotherapy. And many more studies have found similar effects.

So it certainly has its uses as far as weight gain goes, but what about weight loss?

There isn’t much research that has found a weight loss effect. One 2009 study performed on mice did find that those fed a diet high in the omega 3s found in fish oil (DHA and EPA) ended up less obese than those fed a normal diet with fats such as vegetable oil and lard.

But studies on humans have been different. A recent on in the American Jounral of Clinical Nutrition looked at 128 obese people. Some were given 5 fish fish oil supplements a day, and some were give a placebo. The subjects were also put on a diet and exercise regime. At the end of the study, there was no difference in weight loss between the two groups.

Although it is only one study, it is recent and it does seem to strongly suggest that fish oil does not help in weight loss programs, and some (stronger) evidence that it may actually have the opposite effect in those who are suffering from weight loss symptoms associated with cancer and chemo.

However, the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil have enough added benefit that you may want to include them in your diet anyway, as they can still decrease the risk of many diseases associated with obesity, such as heart attack and stroke. The cardiovascular benefits of a diet rich in (fish) omega 3 is undeniable and well supported by the evidence.