Did you know that research has found omega-3s to be powerful weight-loss agents, helping overweight individuals shed unwanted pounds? In both Inuit and Japanese populations, their intake of EPA and DHA were high and the incidence of obesity and its related diseases low. One twelve-week intervention trial studied the effects of omega-3s from fish oil in combination with aerobic exercise three times a week. Study participants were overweight and had metabolic syndrome. The results showed that the total proportion of fat in the body, particularly in the abdominal region, was reduced significantly in the fish-oil-plus-exercise group, but not by fish oil alone or exercise alone. The researchers concluded that omega-3s in fish oil can switch on enzymes specifically involved in oxidizing or burning fat, but they need a driver (exercise) to increase the metabolic rate to lower body fat.4
Appetite control is one of the most important factors involved in the success of nutrition strategies for obesity. Omega-3 fatty acids have been reported to modulate appetite. They are major components in the transport of appetiteregulating molecules, such as dopamine, which are related to receptor affinity. Omega-3s can interact with neuroendocrine factors that are involved in something called the “brainintestinal loop signals” related to energy metabolism such as insulin, ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry), or leptin (the hormone that signals satiety). In a study published in the journal Appetite, participants who ate a dinner rich in omega-3s felt less hungry and more full directly after, and still two hours later, than the participants who were fed a dinner with low omega-3s.5 (Think dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish such as salmon or halibut as the ideal diet to help maintain satiety). This study indicates that omega-3s (mainly EPA and DHA) can modulate hunger hormones.
Researchers have confirmed multiple ways in which omega-3s help with weight loss:
– stimulates secretion of leptin, a hormone that decreases appetite and promotes the burning of fat.
– enables burning of dietary fats by helping the body move fatty acids into body cells for burning as fuel.
– encourages the body to store dietary carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, rather than as hard-to-lose body fat.
– reduces inflammation, which is known to promote weight gain.
– enhances blood sugar control by increasing the insulin-producing cells’ sensitivity to sugar.
– flips off genetic switches that promote inflammation and storage of food as body fat.
– helps the body transport glucose from blood to cells by increasing the fluidity of the cell membranes.
– exhibits anti-obesity effects.
In summary, the researchers concluded that omega-3s are one of the best dietary weight-control aids discovered to date.