The Truth About Fish Oil And Weight Loss

By Adrian Oaks / January 16, 2016

Recent news reports would have many believe that fish oil is the magic pill that helps you lose all of your excess pounds. Unfortunately, if you are a overweight but otherwise healthy individual, a recent study has concluded that fish oil won’t help you lose weight any faster than a placebo would.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who already get regular exercise will see little to no difference when taking fish oil. Dr Laura Defina conducted a randomized trial with 128 overweight individuals. They were told to practice a certain exercise routine and omit certain foods. Group one was given a placebo and group 2 was given 5 omega3 capsules daily.

At the conclusion of the study, people in both categories lost an average of 5% body fat. The omega3 group had an average weight loss of 4.4 – 5.2kg, and the placebo group came in at around 5.1 – 5.8. They concluded that omeaga3 fatty acids were ineffective for increasing weight loss among healthy individuals.

Weight loss support

While fish oil may have a negligible effect on direct weight loss, it may help others who are obese or at risk to other health conditions. Alison Hill, a PhD student at the University of South Australia, recently conducted a twelve week study involving at risk individuals. Alison this group 6 grams of fish oil per day. They were then compared to 3 other groups who were taking sunflower oil, fish oils, or sunflower oil and exercise. The important thing to note here is that all the participants had symptoms of obesity, such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and hypertension.

According to Professor Howe, omega3's can switch on enzymes to help metabolize fat. But a catalyst such as exercise is needed to start the process.

As it turns out, the group that took fish oil lost more weight than the other groups in the trial. The researchers used a specials x ray machine that gave them a 3d view of the subject’s tissue density. They noticed abdominal fat reduction in the fish oil group. They also noted an effect on artery function and triglyceride levels. This may be due to the fact that weakened blood vessels have reduced elasticity, which results in blood pressure problems. Omega3s can actually increase elasticity in these red blood cells. They can also help relax the arterials walls resulting in increased nutrients for exercised muscles.

Another often overlooked benefit of omega3s is their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help support anaerobic workout recovery.

Fish by itself

A third weight loss alternative may be to just increase your intake of fish. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted another 8 week study involving 324 men and women. They broke them down into 4 groups: sunflower oil, fatty fish, lean fish, and fish oil only. They used 3 factors to determine their results: diet/caloric intake, gender, and starting weight. They estimated that on average the subjects would lose anywhere from 3.55kg to 4.96kg on a all 4 diets. They found that the actual weight loss was slightly higher (around 1kg more) in subjects that consumed the lean or fatty fish.

The only problem with consuming whole fish is the mercury content. Some fish can contain large amounts of mercury. It is best to look to fish lower on the food chain since they have less build up of heavy metals and other toxins like PCB’s. Salmon, Shrimp, or trout are lower on the food chain and generally have less toxins in them. It is best to ensure that any fish you consume are wild caught, as farmed fish have been found to contain high levels of PCB’s as well.

Fish oil for weight loss support

Losing weight can be difficult, so it helps to have any advantage you can. While it seems fish oil has reliable results by itself, taking fish oil with moderate exercise should help increase your results.

Also consider the fact that have an abundance of polyunsaturated fatty acids in your diet can help to curb appetite. This is due to the fact that during bouts of heavy exercise and dieting, your body can become depleted of nutrients much quicker than normal. This will result in hunger pangs or cravings for random foods. Fish oil can help curb these cravings due to its nutrient denseness. Fish oil will also help increase you insulin sensitivity. Insulin is release after intake of most meals (especially very sweet ones). Keeping you insulin sensitivity low will help cure hunger and decrease your chances of diabetes.


Fish oil taken by itself can have many other benefits not just limited to weight loss. Even if you don’t see improved results while supplementing on a weight loss regimen, you will still be decreasing you risk of a myriad of many different types of diseases. Fish oil can improve brain power and memory, bone health, and even reduce the signs of aging. It has also been shown to help the body maintain its lean muscle mass. This is crucial if you are someone who does large amounts of aerobic exercise.