Don’t Work Out Without Eating These

Omegas are important dietary fats that should be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. While each have their benefits (note: some should only be taken in moderation), omega-3s are widely believed to be the most beneficial, not only for overall health and wellbeing, but when it comes to your exercise and training schedule too. Here's why...

What are omegas?

There are 11 different omegas in total but omega-3, -6 and -9 are the most well-known and widely researched. Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, a term which refers to their chemical makeup. Like omega-3, our bodies can’t produce these on its own and so they’re referred to as ‘essential fatty acids’. Unlike omega-3, too much omega-6 can have a negative, pro-inflammatory effect on the body so it’s important to moderate your intake. The typical Western diet is already fairly high in omega-6, so watch your consumption of vegetable oils, mayonnaise and nuts like almonds and walnuts. Omega-9 fatty acids are slightly different in that they are monounsaturated in structure and produced in abundance in the body. Because it’s believed that omega-9 can help contribute to a decrease in inflammation, it’s recommended you increase your intake by consuming more sources like olive oil into your diet.

How are omega-3 different?

Like omega-6, omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. There are three types of omega-3 to know about: long-chain forms eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which can be found in fish, fish oil, algae and krill and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a short-chain form found in plant sources like avocado, flax seed and nuts. While they are all great and should be included as part of a healthy and varied diet, many experts believe that it's important to up your quota using supplements as well as dietary sources; that‘s because the body can only use long-chain omega-3s, which means it has to convert ALA into EPA and then into DHA, a process which doesn’t really support efficient intake. As well as supporting energy production, omega-3s promote healthy brain function and help reduce inflammation, which is essential if you’re working out regularly. Which leads us on to…

Why are omega-3s important before a workout?

Thanks to the anti-inflammatory nature of omega-3, they’re an excellent aid when it comes to reducing post training soreness and repairing the microscopic tears in your muscles that happen after working out; one study revealed that doses of EPA and DHA were able to reduce soreness and swelling and even increase range of motion after a bout of particularly intense exercise. Not only do they help reduce immediate soreness, research shows that they can also help negate DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) too, up to 48 hours after you’ve trained. Experts also believe that omega-3 fatty acids contribute to protein synthesis, the process that turns the protein that you eat into fuel for your muscles, which means the more you eat, the better equipped you are at building and maintaining strong muscle. If you find often find yourself lacking in concentration and focus when you’re working out, you might also benefit from increasing your omega-3 intake. That’s because they help support good cognitive function, playing a critical role in signalling and visual processing. These fatty acids also contribute to the overall health of nerve endings, neurons and muscle membranes, a fact backed by a study undertaken by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, which found reaction times in football players became quicker after four weeks of taking fish oil supplements. The benefits of omega-3 to your overall heart health are not to be understated either, helping to decrease your heart rate and reduce the amount of oxygen used when exercising. Both of those combined means it should make your workout feel easier too.

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