Take Advantage Of Fish Oils to Increase Lean muscle growth
by: Robbie Durand
In addition to whey protein and HMB, fish oils may be the next supplement for older adults. Having meals with oily fish twice a week – such as salmon or sardines – provides a healthy dose of omega-3, but most adults don’t get nearly enough in their diets due to changes in modern eating habits. Taking purified, concentrated omega-3 EPA/DHA supplements and enriched foods are great ways of ensuring a healthy and consistent daily dose. Age-associated declines in muscle growth and function are major risk factors for an impaired ability to carry out activities of daily living, falls, prolonged recovery time after hospitalization, and mortality in older adults. New strategies that can slow the age-related loss of muscle growth and function are needed to help older adults maintain adequate performance status to reduce these risks and maintain independence.
Researchers examined the efficacy of fish oil-derived n-3 (ω-3) PUFA therapy (four 1g pills u-3 acid-ethyl ester that provided 3.36g EPA/DHA per day which is equivalent to the n-3 PUFA content of 200-400g of freshwater fatty fish) equivalent to 200-400g of freshwater fatty fish to slow the age-associated loss of muscle growth and function. Sixty healthy 60-85-y-old men and women were randomly assigned to receive n-3 PUFA or corn oil therapy for 6 months. Thigh muscle volume, handgrip strength, one-repetition maximum (1-RM) lower- and upper-body strength, and average power during isokinetic leg exercises were evaluated before and after treatment.
At the end of the study, compared with the control group, 6 months of n-3 PUFA therapy increased thigh muscle volume, handgrip strength, and 1-RM muscle strength and tended to increase average isokinetic power. The difference in muscle volume between the n-3 PUFA and control groups at six months was ~3.5% and the differences in muscle strength was ~6%, suggesting that six months of n-3 PUFA therapy can prevent 2-3 years of the normal age-associated losses in muscle growth (~0.5-1.0% per year) and function (~2-3% per year). Fish oil-derived n-3 PUFA therapy slows the normal decline in muscle mass and function in older adults and should be considered a therapeutic approach for preventing sarcopenia and maintaining physical independence in older adults.
So what’s the exact mechanism in which fish oils increase muscle? It may be related to protein synthesis rates. The researchers were looking for ways to keep patients anabolic when suffering from burns or chemotherapy; both conditions are known for inducing massive amounts of muscle mass loss. Research has found that Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation (i.e., 1 – 2% of total daily energy intake), alone or in combination with amino acid supplementation, has been reported to help maintain whole-body protein synthesis, whole-body protein net balance, and muscle mass in burned rat.
Scientists have suspected that omega 3 fatty acids may contribute to the overall anabolic signaling response in muscle. In a previous study, omega 3 fatty acids were investigated as a supplement to reduce muscle wasting. They took older adult (> 65 years) and had them consume either 4 grams of omega 3 fatty acids or 4 grams of corn oil for 8 weeks. The subject’s diets were carefully monitored so they received the exact same protein; the only difference was the addition of omega 3’s added to the diet. Additionally, the subject’s were told not to engage in heavy resistance exercise. At the end of eight weeks, the group consuming the omega 3 fatty acids had omega 3 augmented hyperaminoacidemia (increased amino acids in the blood)- hyperinsulinemia (elevated insulin) and increases in the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults. Omega-3 fatty acids therefore probably attenuate the anabolic resistance and may potentially be useful as a therapeutic agent to treat sarcopenia.
The researchers did find that omega 3 fatty acids did result in results indicate that it was at least partially mediated via increased activation of the mTOR-p70s6k signaling pathway. The mTORp70s6k-signaling pathway is considered an integral control point for muscle cell growth. So for those bodybuilders that are on a beef, egg, and chicken based diet, be sure to add some omega 3 fatty acids for increases anabolism. Just remember to not go overboard on the omega 3 as too much is probably not as good for you as too little.
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