Fish Oil Weight Loss? Is It For Real?

fish oil weight loss

If you’ve considered taking fish oil to reduce fat, build muscle or otherwise get into shape, you’ve probably seen various blogs and videos praising the “fat burning” power of fish oil. You know, the catchy headlines and videos of gym rats telling you that fish oil is the next best thing to elevating your heart rate.

Like most things in life, however, the truth is not nearly as clear cut, nor convincing. Please read on for more information, and our humble opinion on the efficacy of fish oil for weight loss based on the clinical research currently available.

Weight Loss & Weight Gain Are Listed As “Potential” Benefits of Fish Oil.

As we explained in our article on the general benefits of fish oil, its potential beneficial effects on body weight have been noted in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. In fact, this database recognizes fish oil as a potential therapy for not only losing weight, but slowing weight loss in cancer patients. Note, however, that the dosage indicated for weight loss/weight gain were quite significant (> 6 grams Omega 3).

What Recent Clinical Research Says.

There are lots of claims floating around, and somewhat “grey” literature studies indicating that fish oil promotes weight loss. However, there is no clear and convincing data that it does so. Moreover, one of the most recent, clinical trials actually concluded that it had no affect on weight loss at all.

This 2011 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, studied 128 sedentary and overweight individuals who were spit up into various groups, including one placebo control. The purpose of the study to was to evaluate whether Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation, coupled with exercise, resulted in elevated weight loss over a 6 month period.

Of the 81 people who completed the study, no significant differences were found between the placebo group and Omega 3-supplemented group in terms of weight loss, the desire to eat, or other metabolic and psychometric indices that were also tracked during the study. In a nutshell, this study concluded that fish oil did not do anything for individuals trying to lose weight through exercise.

The Verdict: Does Fish Oil Help Lose Weight?

What the study above does not close the door on is the possibility that fish oil may help people lose weight who are not engaging in any appreciable physical activity. So, perhaps between two equally sedentary individuals, fish oil may still have some weight loss effect. There is no convincing data to prove this either, of course. Further, it makes little sense to avoid traditional modes of weight loss, such as exercise, especially when physical activity comes with a whole host of other benefits.

In conclusion, based on the clinical research currently available, we’re very skeptical that fish oil, particularly when taken at moderate doses, will help you lose weight. But, given its many other health benefits, there is certainly no harm in taking it as part of boosting a healthy lifestyle. Further, simply feeling better about yourself and taking control of your health is like to help fuel any exercise plan, which also doesn’t hurt!

Featured (top) photo credit: “dno1967b” by Daniel Oines under CC BY 2.0