Big omega-3s dose cut soreness in study of high-intensity training

A large dose of omega-3s cut delayed onset muscle soreness after high-intensity training in a cohort of mostly sedentary, overweight younger men.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

June 7, 2024

3 Min Read

At a Glance

  • High-intensity training could have benefits for overweight subjects. 
  • Thai researchers found a big dose of omega-3s cut soreness after exercise. 

A high dose of omega-3s cut muscle soreness after exercise for overweight subjects, according to new research funded by BASF. 

The new study was published this month in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. It was the work of a group of researchers associated with Kasetsart University in Thailand. 

The research was funded by a grant from BASF Newtrition Asia. The company also supplied the research material and placebo free of charge but had no input into the study’s design or conclusions, the researchers said. 

The researchers’ goal was to investigate whether a high dose of omega-3s could make high-intensity interval training (HIIT) more palatable for overweight subjects. They noted this type of exercise can be attractive to otherwise inactive people because of its short duration, with some research suggesting it can deliver similar health benefits as longer bouts of lower intensity exercise. 

However, HIIT can induce intense delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for subjects unaccustomed to its physical demands, discouraging them from continuing with an exercise regimen. The hypothesis of the study was that a high dose of omega-3s taken for four weeks could alleviate these issues in a cohort of overweight subjects. 

The researchers recruited a cohort of 24 younger men who were overweight but not obese. Their BMIs (body mass indexes) ranged from a low of 23 to 30, which is the cutoff for outright obesity. They ranged from having a sedentary lifestyle to exercising moderately as much as two times a week. 

The subjects were divided into equal-sized experiment and control groups. For the nutrition intervention, the researchers used four grams of BASF’s Pronova Pure fish oil supplement that supplied 1,000 mg (milligrams) of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 800 mg of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) a day. The subjects took the fish oil capsules or equivalent placebos daily for four weeks. 

For the exercise stimulus, the researchers chose to use a cycling ergometer because of the lesser chance of injury compared to interval running or energetic strength training. The exercise protocol called for eight seconds of high effort at 80% to 90% of max effort, followed by 12 seconds of recovery, repeated for a 20-minute session. 

To judge the effects of the omega-3 intervention, the researchers used measures of muscle soreness, strength and flexibility. They also used blood-based measures, including the change in the subjects’ Omega-3 Index as well as plasma creatine (CK), C-reactive protein (CRP) and white blood cell count (WBC), which all give indications of exercise-induced muscle damage. 

The omega-3 intervention ameliorated DOMS and cut one of the blood-related muscle breakdown measures. The omega-3 group also recovered to their pre-exercise session strength levels faster, too. 

“Ingestion of omega-3 4g/d for 4 weeks increased the omega-3 index of males with overweight or obesity. Omega-3 intervention for 4 weeks lowered a marker of muscle damage (CK) and reduced pain score and increased muscle strength after the cycling HIIT more rapidly than placebo,” the authors disclosed. “This indicated the reduction of HIIT-induced DOMS in males with overweight or obesity by omega-3 supplementation.” 





About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

Subscribe and receive the latest insights on the health and nutrition industry.
Join 37,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like