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Does omega-3 help with weight loss?

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of essential polyunsaturated fat that play crucial roles in maintaining overall health. They are called "essential" because the human body cannot produce them on its own, so they must be obtained from the diet. We explore omegea-3 for weight loss.

What are the 3 types of Omega-3?

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

This is the essential omega-3 fatty acid found in plant-based sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and certain vegetable oils (flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil). ALA is converted by the body into other active forms of omega-3s, but the conversion rate is limited, so it's generally recommended to consume other sources of omega-3s as well.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

EPA is primarily found in marine sources, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. It is also available in certain algae-based supplements.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Like EPA, DHA is found in marine sources, particularly in fatty fish and algae-based supplements. It is an essential structural component of the brain, eyes, and nervous system.

What are the benefits of Omega-3 for weight loss?

Appetite Regulation

Omega-3s may help regulate appetite and reduce hunger, which could potentially lead to lower calorie intake and support weight loss efforts.

Increased Satiety

Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may increase feelings of fullness after meals, which can help reduce overall food consumption.

Reduced Fat Storage

Omega-3s might influence the way our bodies store fat, potentially promoting a preference for storing fat in certain tissues where it's less likely to contribute to weight gain.

Enhanced Fat Burning

There is some evidence to suggest that omega-3s could enhance fat burning during exercise, potentially supporting weight loss when combined with physical activity.

Inflammation Reduction

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, and excessive inflammation is associated with obesity and weight gain. By reducing inflammation, omega-3s may indirectly support weight loss.

Muscle Preservation

During weight loss, there's a risk of losing muscle mass. Omega-3s might help preserve lean muscle mass, which is essential for overall metabolic health.

What are the best sources for Omega-3?

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are among the best natural sources of EPA and DHA. Include fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout, and anchovies in your diet. Aim to eat these types of fish at least twice a week to boost your omega-3 intake.

Plant-Based Sources

While EPA and DHA are primarily found in marine sources, you can get ALA from plant-based foods. Incorporate flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and certain vegetable oils (flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil) into your meals and snacks.

Algae-Based Supplements

For those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and cannot obtain EPA and DHA from fish, algae-based supplements are a good option. Algae is a natural source of EPA and DHA and can be found in supplement form.

Fortified Foods

Some food products, such as certain types of milk, yogurt, and eggs, are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids. Check food labels to see if they contain added omega-3s.

Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 supplements, including fish oil capsules or vegetarian/vegan alternatives made from algae oil, can provide a convenient way to ensure you are meeting your omega-3 needs. Before starting any supplements, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure it won't interact with any existing health conditions or medications.

Dietary Changes

Make simple dietary changes to incorporate more omega-3-rich foods into your meals. For example, add flaxseeds or chia seeds to smoothies, salads, or oatmeal, use canola oil or flaxseed oil in salad dressings, and snack on walnuts.

Remember that balance is crucial, and it's best to obtain omega-3 fatty acids from a variety of sources. A balanced diet that includes both marine sources of EPA and DHA and plant-based sources of ALA is generally recommended for optimal health. If you have specific dietary concerns or health conditions, consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional for personalized advice.


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