You don’t have to religiously count your macros or train for an intense endurance sport to understand the ways in which nutrition influences your athletic abilities. Honestly, all it takes is eating too much pizza the night before your Friday morning pilates class or eating a couple cookies before an afternoon run to understand that certain foods (sugar and simple carbohydrates—we’re looking at you) can affect your energy levels and mental resilience during exercise.
While we typically consider the carbs and proteins we’re eating before, during, and after we work out, our fat and even micronutrient intake can seriously affect our athletic performance as well.* Case in point: a new study from the Journal of Exercise and Nutrition reveals that omega-3 supplementation has a direct impact on muscular performance in collegiate athletes.*
How omega-3 supplementation supports athletic performance.
During the eight-week study, Baylor University student athletes consumed a high-potency fish oil supplement (i.e., 1.75 grams of EPA plus 1.1 grams of DHA) or a placebo. All participants provided a three-day food log and questionnaire and had their omega-3 index, body composition, handgrip strength, and countermovement jump tested at the beginning and end of the study.
Although changes in body composition and power (i.e., countermovement jump measurements) were similar between the two groups, athletes that took fish oil saw a significant 9% increase in handgrip strength while the control group saw no improvement in muscle strength.*
Participants in the omega-3 supplementation group also benefited from a 73% increase in overall omega-3 index (i.e., measure of omega-3 status in the body), 332% increase in EPA levels, and 64% increase in DHA levels, while athletes from the placebo group saw no change.* These results indicate that high-potency fish oil is an effective means of not only improving muscle performance, but increasing the body’s overall omega-3 status as well.*
Other surprising supplements with muscle health benefits.
When it comes to promoting an active lifestyle, it turns out protein powder and BCAAs aren’t the only supplements that support our muscle function and strength.* In addition to high-quality fish oil, we’ve discovered a few other supplements that can help bolster your muscle health.*
Vitamin D is not only vital to the maintenance of muscle form and function, but also contributes to a healthy body composition and muscle mass throughout the lifespan.* With the profound prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in American adults (29% and 41%, respectively), those looking to support their muscle health would be wise to add a high-potency vitamin D supplement (like mbg’s vitamin D3 potency+) to their repertoire of daily supplements.*
While collagen is not a complete protein (i.e., it’s missing one of nine essential amino acids), it still delivers 20 unique amino acids that can support muscle mass.* Additionally, collagen supports muscle growth, repair, and strength (and offers a number of other workout-specific benefits, as well), so you might consider adding a high-quality collagen supplement (like mbg’s beauty and gut collagen+) to your collection of muscle-supporting powdered supplements.*
High-quality, comprehensive multivitamins contain a complete array of essential minerals and vitamins—many of which help promote muscle development, function, and regeneration.*
For example: Most multis include vitamin D (which supports muscle health in myriad ways, as we’ve seen above) and vitamin C, which is an enzyme cofactor for collagen and carnitine production—both of which support muscle recovery.* When it comes to minerals, magnesium and calcium play an important role in muscle contraction, while potassium supports muscle formation and also regulates electrolyte balance.*
Taking a complete daily multi that contains all of these micronutrients (like mbg’s ultimate multivitamin+) can bolster muscle (and whole-body!) health.*
The bottom line.
If you’re looking to support your muscles holistically, research suggests that supplementing with a quality, high-potency fish oil (like mbg’s omega-3 potency+, which offers 1.5 grams of EPA + DHA) can help improve grip strength and promote optimal muscle performance.*