How Can Fish Oil Improve Recovery?

We have all heard that fish oil is good for us, but most of us do not fully understand its importance in exercise recovery.  Yes, exercise is good and we should all be doing it, but we also need to remember that our bodies need help in recovering from it. This is where Omega-3 fish oil comes into play.

What is Omega-3 Fish oil?

Omega-3 is the main essential fatty acid in the human diet. Essential meaning that we are unable to produce Omega-3 in our own bodies, and we must attain them from an outside source. The two main fatty acids found in Omega-3 are EPA and DHA, which are important in muscle recovery, decreasing inflammation, increasing blood circulation, building lean muscle, and increasing fat burning.

Muscle Recovery

Taking Omega-3 is a great way to decrease muscle and joint inflammation caused by intense physical activity. A decrease in inflammation aids in faster recovery, tissue repair, and gets you back to exercising sooner. Faster recovery from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) has also been associated with an increase in Omega-3. DOMS is also known as that two day sore that most of us experience after an intense WOD. This occurs from micro-tears in our muscle which are caused from exercise. Fish oil has been shown to aid in adequate recovery which may help relieve the intensity of DOMS. In turn, this helps get you back to the gym quicker while feeling adequately recovered.  

Building Lean Muscle

Omega-3 has been shown to increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis. This increases the rate at which lean muscle is built and the repair of damaged muscle protein. Omega-3 has been proven to increase the absorption of protein into our systems which helps with this increase in protein synthesis. Some studies have also shown an increase in fat burning and insulin sensitivity due to Omega-3. This enhancement in insulin sensitivity is important because it allows your body to inhibit fat storage, which essentially keeps it from holding on to extra fat.


It is important to buy a high quality form of fish oil due to the fact that many contain a high level of toxins. This is the case because all fish are contaminated with toxins which are then passed onto the consumer. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are the best way of measuring the purity of the fish oil. Our bodies are not able to break down PCBs and it can have adverse health effects on humans if taken in high amounts. The fish oil must have PCB levels of less than 5 ppb (5 ng per gram of oil) and ideally less than 1 ppb to get the appropriate levels of Omega-3 that assist in recovery. A more pure form of fish oil should alleviate some of the “fishy burps” that are commonly associated with fish oil tablets. Other tips on alleviating the “fishy burps” is to freeze your fish oil or to take it right before bed. Freezing them allows your body to digest them at a slower rate, and taking them before bed allows your body to digest them while you are sleeping.

According to the, Omega RX is one of the cleanest Omega-3 Fish oils on the market. There are also a few others that would be considered higher in purity. I would recommend doing a little research on the quality of the product before choosing to buy.

How Much Fish Oil Do I Take?

The amount of fish oil we should take will vary slightly from person to person based on weight and activity level. A recommended amount for a healthy individual would be somewhere around .5 grams of Omega-3 per 10 lbs.

This link from Invictus Crossfit gives a little more insight into the amount of fish oil that would be appropriate for you.



MikeB MikeB's picture
Wed, 10/12/2016 - 17:37

Thanks for sharing Leah!  

According to the Invictus link I am definitely not getting enough fish oil on a daily basis.