In my essential fatty acid series, I started off talking about why you should care about taking an essential fatty acid/omega-3 supplement. Then I wrote an article for the vegans, vegetarians, or people who just don’t eat fish that often about a supplement they can take. Which brings me to the most well-known supplement for maintaining ideal omega-3 balance: Fish Oil. Because remember guys… if you aren’t eating fish at least 2-3x per week, you need to supplement with a high-quality essential fatty acid/omega-3 supplement.
The goal for this guide is to show you how to choose the best fish oil for your money and health. I will also make some recommendations for some products I personally use and have recommended to my clients. I also want to take a moment in this article and teach you a powerful technique for using fish oil for weight loss.
After this article, I will discuss a few more omega-3 supplements and guides to help you decide which one is best for you.
Buy Only Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil
The unfortunate fact is the ocean is quite polluted. This means if you don’t choose a high-quality version, you risk getting a lot of those ocean pollutants into your fish oil.
If you purchase a low-quality fish oil, you are purchasing a distilled version of the chemicals and toxins those fish bioaccumulate; things like heavy metals and other toxins such as dioxins and PCBs. Pharmaceutical grade products remove those harmful toxins through various methods.
One of the first things I hear when people ask about fish oil supplements is whether they contain mercury. Luckily, most fish contains sufficient levels of the mineral selenium. Something a lot of people do not know is that for mercury to do any harm to our body, we need to be deficient in selenium. Mother nature must have anticipated this, because most fish contains more than enough selenium to negate any potential harm from the mercury absorbed in the fish (1).
Check The Label
Checking the label is a great tool to ensure quality. Often the higher-quality brands will go out of their way to tell you why their fish oil is the best. You’ll probably find that they are a little bit more expensive because of this too, but worth the investment.
But be wary, the supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA and a lot of companies will make claims that are just not true. Your best insurance is to contact the company for the product you are interested in and ask to see a copy of their Certificate of Analysis (COA). COAs are independent lab analyses to test if the claims on the bottle sync up with what the lab measures. If the company refuses to show you this report, I would look for a different brand.
Only Buy Fish Oil In the Triglyceride Form
Another important detail to look for when choosing a high-quality fish oil is to make sure that it is in its triglyceride (TG) form instead of its cheaper ethyl esters (EE) form. When fish oil is made it starts in its EE form, but when kept this way our bodies have a very difficult time absorbing the fatty acids. Therefore, the better quality, more absorbable fish oil NEEDS to be reconverted back into the TG form (2).
If You Burp From Fish Oil… It’s Rancid
And the final point I want to bring up about fish oil is infamous fish burps. If you ever experience this, you are taking rancid oil. Return it or throw it away. Fish oil should never give you burps. Because fish oil has been processed, the oils are very delicate and low-quality products can easily go rancid. A lot of the higher-quality brands will add mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) and/or astaxanthin to help protect the delicate oils from going bad. Look for those additives on the label to ensure your fish oil will hold up and not go rancid as easily.
Dosage and Amounts
Before I talk about specific dosages, I want to take a moment to point out that I am not a doctor and the information I write about is for educational purposes only. I am only writing what I recommend to my clients, but it is up to you to talk with your doctor to decide what is best.
With that said, if you’re taking a high-quality fish oil, you should be supplementing around 1g per day. But you can self-test to see what your omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids look like and then you can really dial in your correct amount. I talk more on how to get the proper lab testing in my other article, here.
A therapeutic dose means a short term amount that you do for a specific goal. For weight loss clients, I will sometimes recommend as follows:
For the first 2 weeks, take 1 g of fish oil per percentage of body fat (do not exceed 30 g per day). As an example, if you are 25% body fat, you should be taking 25g of fish oil per day, for the first 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks, half your dosage. As an example, if you were 25% body fat, taking 25 g of fish oil per day, you would then take 12.5g of fish oil, per day, after the initial 2 weeks.
Continue taking your specific amount until your desired body fat percentage is reached. After you hit your goal, decrease fish oil dosage to 1g per day.
Often the reason why people can’t seem to get rid of their weight is because of inflammation. Taking a short term, high dose of fish oil seems to show some benefit. Just make sure that you are not over-consuming calories, are keeping your stress in check, and are keeping your fitness dialed in and you should see some great results using this protocol.
*Note: I also want to give yet another warning that this recommendation needs to be handled with caution. Fish oil does thin the blood so if you’re taking any blood-thinning medication or prone to bruising and/or it’s difficult for your blood to clot… then I wouldn’t recommend following this protocol. Keep this in mind and talk to your doc if you are unsure about doing this.
What I Use And Recommend
Yeah, I know that’s a lot of information to digest… and you may be thinking, “dammit Andy, just tell me what to buy, I don’t have time to read through all the labels out there!”
Well, after a lot of searching around, I found an awesome fish oil supplement. I personally use this every day and I recommend it to all my clients.
It’s the EXOS Fish Oil.
EXOS brand is a performance-based supplement company produced by Thorne Research. If you are unfamiliar with Thorne they are hands down one of the best supplement companies on the market. All their products are high quality, trustworthy, and they don’t use nasty fillers.
Often the only way you can get a Thorne product is through your doctor… but the EXOS line is available for fitness coaches and nutritionists… like me!
I hope you guys found all that useful. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any additional questions. Thanks for reading!