Each year, I pick a handful of things to experiment with, and one of them for 2016 is high dose, high quality fish oil. People's diets often lead to high levels of inflammation, particularly in the U.S., and as an athlete, we choose to inflame our bodies daily through our training. Dr. Barry Sears has pioneered the use of Omega-3 fish oil in order to keep that inflammation under control and optimize recovery. Something that I've learned lately is that inflammation is about balance, like so many other things in life. Too much inflammation and your body destroys its own tissue leading to injury and minimal performance gains. Too little inflammation, and your body doesn't know what to repair. Inflammation is your body's signal to heal itself, which it does in a supercompensatory way leading to you being stronger, which leads to performance gains. Woah! Isn't that what we are looking for as athletes!?
So how do we measure inflammation? A blood test. I did a blood test before starting the fish oil consumption to measure my AA (Arachidonic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) levels, which are used to calculate the AA/EPA ratio. Dr. Sears' research has concluded that 1.5-3.0 is a good range with 1.5 being ideal. My original test on February 3rd came back at 5.1 (8.96% AA / 1.76% EPA), and after taking 10 capsules per day for a bit less than 3 months, my ratio is now 1.5 (8.2% AA / 5.6% EPA), spot on with the ideal number! I guess Dr Barry Sears knows what he's talking about when it comes to dosage recommendations! Not only did my second test number reflect a better ratio, but both my AA and my EPA numbers improved, particularly my EPA percentage. The ideal range is >4% of total fatty acids, a number I failed to meet by far in my first test. After taking more fish oil, I've achieved it and then some, meaning I have a lot of "good" fatty acids in my system now. This totally jives with the fact that I've been taking a ton more fish oil under Dr. Barry Sears' guidance, and not just any fish oil, but the highest quality fish oil there is on the market, OmegaRx fish oil.
So the science proves there's been a theoretical improvement, but how do I feel?
The quick answer is that I've been feeling great! I have been recovering like Wolverine from my workouts, soreness is minimal, I feel sharp-minded, and the symptoms from having low testosterone last year have abated (listen to the recent podcast on Endurance Planet, Episode 2 of "So You Wanna Go Pro?" where I talk about my testosterone issues: http://www.enduranceplanet.com/ep-2-so-you-wanna-go-pro-the-boston-marathon-special-and-athletes-facing-low-t/).
The longer answer is that I've been feeling great, but it's hard to tell that it's directly due to the fish oil. There are so many factors in life and in training that could affect my ability to recover, or my testosterone levels, that it's hard to say for certain that it is high dose, high quality fish oil making the impact. However, given the fact that my health has made a turn for the better this year is a good sign that it has been beneficial to me. All of the things that are supposed to improve because of an ideal AA/EPA ratio, have improved. Another way I could try to test whether the fish oil is helping me is by stopping consumption of it and seeing if I feel worse. I don't want to though! There's a good chance that it is helping my health and performance, so I'm going to continue taking it as long as I continue to feel as great as I do.
Feel free to comment or message me directly if you have stories of your own regarding the impact of fish oil on your health. I'm interested to hear!