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Fish Oil Supplements: How to Choose the Right Fish Oil?

Fish Oil Supplements: How to Choose the Right Fish Oil?

Omega-3s: Fueling Your Bodybuilding Journey

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats your body can't produce on its own, but they play a crucial role in overall health and, specifically, in bodybuilding. Here's a breakdown of why they're important and how they can benefit your gains:

What are Omega-3s?

Omega-3s are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fatty fish, some plant sources like flaxseeds, and certain nuts and seeds. The most important components for human health are:

  • EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid):

    Plays a key role in reducing inflammation and supporting muscle protein synthesis.
  • DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid):

    Essential for brain health and may also support muscle function and recovery.

Why are Omega-3s Important for Bodybuilders?

Bodybuilders put their bodies under a lot of stress during intense training. Omega-3s offer several benefits that can support muscle building and recovery:

  • Reduced Inflammation:

    Exercise can cause inflammation, which can hinder muscle growth and recovery. Omega-3s, particularly EPA, have potent anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce muscle soreness (DOMS) and promote faster healing.
  • Improved Muscle Protein Synthesis:

    Studies suggest EPA may enhance the body's ability to utilise protein for muscle building. This means your body gets more out of the protein you consume, leading to greater muscle growth potential.

  • Enhanced Muscle Function:

    DHA plays a role in cell signalling and communication within muscles. Some studies suggest it may improve muscle strength and function.
  • Overall Health Benefits:

    Omega-3s also contribute to cardiovascular health, joint health, and cognitive function, all of which are important for overall well-being and supporting your training.

How Much Omega-3 Should Bodybuilders Get?

While the recommended daily intake (RDI) for adults is generally 1.1 grams per day, bodybuilders aiming to optimise their gains might benefit from a higher intake. Studies suggest a range of 2,000mg to 3,000mg of daily EPA and DHA combined can be beneficial.

Getting Enough Omega-3s:

There are two main ways to increase your Omega-3 intake:

  • Diet:

    Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and herring are excellent sources of Omega-3s. Aim to include these in your diet at least twice a week. While there are some vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids like chia seed , flax seed , edamame, seaweed, walnuts , soybeans, brussels sprouts etc, they're not as readily absorbed by the body as those found in fish or fish oil supplements. This is because the component of Omega-3 found in plants is ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) and the body only converts a small percentage (around 5% for EPA and even less for DHA) of ALA into EPA and DHA. However, considering algae-based omega-3 supplements can be a better option.
  • Supplements:

    If you struggle to consume enough fish, Omega-3 supplements can be a convenient way to meet your needs. Look for high-quality fish oil supplements with a good EPA/DHA ratio, preferably a 3:2 EPA:DHA Ratio.

While there is much research on the benefits and sources of omega-3, the safety and quality of the fish oil still raises concern. 

Fish Oil Gone Bad: Can rancid fish oil make you sick?

Imagine you have a bowl of fresh nuts – almonds, cashews, the whole healthy mix. They smell delicious, and you know they're packed with nutrients. But there are times when these nuts smell, maybe a bit like paint thinner or old crayons and even taste very unpleasant with an unusual texture. They've gone rancid. That's what happens to fish oil, too. 

What is Rancidity? Can rancid fish oil make you sick?

Rancidity is the process where the healthy fats in fish oil, like omega-3s, break down due to exposure to light, heat, or oxygen. Here's how it goes down:

Let’s look at the Science behind….

Think of those healthy fats in fish oil as long chains of connected molecules. These chains are like the building blocks of your health. Now, imagine these chains are susceptible to attack by free radicals, which are like tiny trouble-makers floating around in your body. Normally, antioxidants in the fish oil act as bodyguards, protecting the chains from these free radicals.

But when exposed to light, heat, or oxygen, the antioxidants get depleted, leaving the fatty acid chains vulnerable. The free radicals then break down the chains, causing them to degrade and form shorter, less beneficial molecules. This breakdown process is what we call rancidity.

Now, think of rancid fish oil like those spoiled nuts. They might still be nuts, but they've lost their nutritional value and pleasant taste. Similarly, rancid fish oil might still be oil, but the omega-3s, the reason you take it in the first place, are damaged and potentially harmful.

Impact on Quality and Effectiveness:

Here's the bad news: rancid fish oil loses its effectiveness.

  • Reduced Benefits:

    The broken-down fatty acids might not offer the same anti-inflammatory, heart-protective, or brain-boosting benefits as healthy omega-3s.
  • Potential Harm:

    In some cases, rancid fish oil might even produce harmful byproducts.

How to avoid rancid fish oil?

Here are a few signs that can help you avoid rancid fish oil and stay away from the possible harmful effects.

Signs of Rancid Fish Oil:

  • Off-odour:

    Does it smell any different? What does rancid fish oil smell like? The most obvious sign is a strong fishy smell, different from the mild, fresh scent of good quality fish oil.
  • Taste:

    Rancid fish oil might have an unpleasant, fishy aftertaste.
  • Appearance:

    Cloudy or discoloured fish oil could be a red flag.

Avoiding Rancid Fish Oil:

  • Choose reputable brands:

    Look for brands like YouWeFit which are known for quality control and proper storage practices.
  • Check the packaging:

    Opt for dark-coloured, opaque bottles that minimise light exposure.
  • Storage matters:

    Keep your fish oil in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
  • Buy in smaller quantities:

    This ensures freshness, especially if you don't use it regularly. Opting for a 30 capsule bottle, twice a month can be one of the most suitable and convenient options, both in terms of product freshness and cost.

By understanding rancidity, you can ensure you're getting the most out of your fish oil supplements and supporting your health with the good stuff, not the broken-down bits.

Now the question that follows is -how will you identify a good quality Omega-3 fish oil? Here are some tell-tale signs explained in detail to help you identify them easily:


  • Fresh Fish Oil:

    High-quality fish oil should have a mild, slightly fishy odour. It shouldn't be overpowering or unpleasant, whereas 
  • Rancid Fish Oil:

    The most obvious sign of rancidity is a strong, off-putting smell. This can range from a pungent fishy odour to something more like paint thinner, ammonia, or even old crayons. Imagine the difference between a fresh fish market and a dump area behind a fish and chip shop – that's the kind of drastic change in smell you're looking for.

Why the Change?

During rancidity, the breakdown of omega-3 fatty acids releases volatile compounds that have these unpleasant odours.


  • Fresh Fish Oil:

    Fish oil supplements often have a mild, slightly fishy aftertaste. However, this shouldn't be overwhelming or unpleasant. Some brands even have flavoured versions to mask this taste.
  • Rancid Fish Oil:

    On the other hand, rancid fish oil will have a strong, unpleasant fishy aftertaste that lingers in your mouth. It might even be described as bitter, metallic, or acrid. Imagine the difference between a fresh piece of salmon and a piece that's been sitting out for days – the rancid fish oil will have a similarly unpleasant taste sensation.

Why the Change?

Similar to the smell, the breakdown of omega-3s in rancid fish oil releases compounds with a bitter or unpleasant taste. These can overpower the mild fishy taste of fresh oil, leaving a lingering bad aftertaste.


  • Fresh Fish Oil:

    Fish oil supplements typically come in softgel capsules. The oil inside should be clear or light yellow and have a smooth, liquid consistency.
  • Rancid Fish Oil:

    In some cases, rancid fish oil might appear cloudy or discoloured, with a thicker, more viscous consistency. This change can be subtle, but if you notice a significant difference from how it looked previously, it's a cause for concern.

Why the Change?

The breakdown process during rancidity can alter the physical properties of the oil. While not as readily noticeable as smell or taste, changes in texture can be an additional indicator.

Remember: Don't taste-test your fish oil supplements to check for rancidity! Rely on the smell primarily, and if the odour is off-putting, discard the supplement.

By being aware of these tell-tale signs, you can ensure you're consuming fresh, high-quality fish oil and reaping the potential health benefits it offers.

Selecting the Winning Fish Oil for Your Bodybuilding Journey:

Fish oil supplements can be a valuable tool for bodybuilders, but with so many options available, choosing the right one can be confusing. Here are some actionable tips to ensure you're getting a high-quality fish oil supplement that supports your bodybuilding goals:

  1. Seek Reputable Brands and Third-Party Certifications:

  • Brand Reputation:

    Look for established brands known for their commitment to quality control and responsible sourcing practices. Research online reviews and choose brands with a good track record.
  • Third-Party Certifications:

    Opt for fish oil supplements that carry certifications from independent organisations. These certifications indicate the product has been tested for purity, potency, and potential contaminants like mercury.
  1. Look for Enteric-Coated Capsules for a Pleasant Experience:

  • Fishy Burps:

    Regular fish oil capsules can sometimes cause fishy burps due to the breakdown of the oil in your stomach.
  • Enteric Coating:

    Enteric-coated capsules have a special coating that allows them to bypass your stomach and dissolve in your intestines. This minimises the chance of fishy burps and optimises absorption.
  1. Pay Attention to the Dosage of EPA and DHA:

Here's where it gets specific for bodybuilders:

  • Your Needs:

    Studies suggest a range of 2,000mg to 3,000mg of combined EPA and DHA daily can be beneficial for bodybuilders.
  • Check the Label:

    Don't be fooled by high total fish oil content. Look at the specific amounts of EPA and DHA listed on the label.
  • Focus on EPA and DHA:

    While other fatty acids might be present in fish oil, prioritise EPA and DHA for their muscle-building and recovery benefits. You can look for 3:2, EPA:DHA Ratio, for instance, 540mg EPA & 360mg DHA.

Choosing the Right Dosage:

The optimal dosage for you might depend on several factors, including your overall diet, training intensity, and individual needs. Here's a general guideline:

  • For most bodybuilders:

    A daily dose containing 2,000mg to 3,000mg of combined EPA and DHA is a good starting point.
  • Consult a healthcare professional:

    They can help you determine the most appropriate dosage based on your individual needs and health profile.

Additional Tips:

  • Freshness Matters:

    Fish oil is susceptible to rancidity (breakdown). Choose brands known for proper storage and opt for smaller quantities if you don't use them regularly.
  • Consider Molecular Form:

    Some fish oil supplements offer triglycerides (TG) or ethyl esters (EE) forms of EPA and DHA. Triglycerides are the natural form found in fish and might have slightly better absorption. Choosing brands like YouWeFit that offer triple strength fish oil formulas come in triglyceride form that is readily absorbed by the body.

Enhancing Effectiveness:

  • Combine with Antioxidants:

    Omega-3s in fish oil are susceptible to breakdown. Taking fish oil with Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant, can help combat this process and preserve the potency of the omega-3s.
  • Consume with Healthy Fats:

    Studies suggest consuming fish oil with a meal containing healthy fats, like those found in avocado or olive oil, may improve absorption. This is because fat-soluble nutrients like omega-3s are better absorbed when consumed with other fats.

By following these tips, you can choose a high-quality fish oil supplement that provides the optimal amount of EPA and DHA to support your bodybuilding journey, helping you achieve your fitness goals without fishy side effects.


By incorporating high-quality fish oil with the right dosage of EPA and DHA, along with these additional strategies, you can maximise the benefits for your bodybuilding journey. Remember, a balanced diet rich in whole foods, combined with proper training and recovery practices, remains the foundation for optimal results. Fish oil can be a valuable addition to your arsenal, but it's not a magic bullet.

With a focus on quality, smart consumption practices, and a well-rounded approach to health and fitness, you can unlock the full potential of fish oil and support your bodybuilding goals.

Next article 5 Must-Have Supplements for Bodybuilders in 2024

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