Most people taking fish oil supplements do it because they realize their bodyneeds essential fatty acids to support numerous metabolic functions. They just might not like the taste of fish. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that fish oil supplements might also positively impact muscle mass and weight loss.

Volunteers received either 4 grams of safflower oil or 4 grams of fish oil per day. The fatty acid breakdown of the fish oil worked out to 1600 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 800 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). After 6 weeks, the fish oil group had gained more muscle mass and lost more body fat than the subjects who took safflower oil. Blood levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol were also noticeably lower.

True Strength Moment: The researchers involved in this study didn’t say whether their healthy adult subjects lifted weights, ran on a treadmill or did any kind of exercise at all. What they consumed aside from supplements wasn’t outlined either. For those who watch what they eat and are committed to regular exercise, fish oil’s ability to reduce cortisol levels might provide a little extra anti-catabolic support against muscle breakdown.