The Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation on Body Composition and Strength in a Young, Athletic Population

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Jeffery L. Heileson
Mitchell C. Cholewinski
Kathleen E. Adair
Ashlyne Vineyard
Andrew Gallucci
LesLee K. Funderburk


omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, lean body mass, athletes


Introduction: To investigate the effects of fish oil (FO) supplementation on body composition and strength in young, athletic individuals.
Methods: Six, division I athletes/competitive cheerleaders (age 20.2 [1.8], height 169.4 [9.8] cm, weight 71.0 [13.7] kg) were enrolled and completed the study. The participants were divided into two groups: 1) 3.2g/d FO or 2) 3g/d safflower oil (placebo [PL]). Body composition (body mass, lean body mass [LBM], and fat mass [FM]) via dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and upper-body strength via hand grip dynamometer was assessed at baseline and after 4-weeks. Participants provided three-day food records before and after the supplementation period. Dependent sample t-tests were used to determine within group differences. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to determine group by time interactions. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. Results: FO supplementation increased LBM by 1.36kg (Pre: 52.49kg, Post: 53.85kg) whereas the PL group lost 0.9kg LBM (Pre: 53.42kg, Post: 52.50kg) (p=0.035). Upper- body strength increased in the FO group by 0.98kg (Pre: 39.43kg, Post: 40.41kg) and decreased in the PL group by 2.02kg (Pre: 35.03kg, Post: 33.01kg) (p =0.131). Conclusions: Four-weeks of FO supplementation (3.2g/d) improved body composition but did not significantly improve strength in a young athletic population. Future trials need to be conducted to replicate our findings before definitive conclusions can be reached.

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