Czech results show omega-3 fish oil supplements may enhance the effects of very low calorie diets
by Craig Weatherby
Should one wish to shed pounds, for whatever reasons, there’s already substantial evidence that the metabolic effects of omega-3s aid efforts at weight control (See the “Omega-3s & Weight/Fitness” section of our news archive).
The results obtained by Czech researchers at Charles University in Prague lend weight—pardon the pun—to prior findings (Kunesova M et al 2005). The findings of this small pilot study seem significant in light of America's obesity epidemic.
Czechs find omega-3s enhance benefits of very-low-calorie diets
A team at the university’s Obesity Management Centre assigned 20 obese women randomly assigned either to a very-low-calorie diet (VLCD) plus omega-3 supplements, or to the same very-low-calorie diet plus placebo capsules.
After three weeks, the omega-3-supplemented women enjoyed significantly greater weight losses and reductions in their body mass indices (BMIs) and hip circumferences, compared with the control group.
The Czechs also reported finding signs of significantly greater fat-burning (fatty acid oxidation) in the omega-3 group.
And one of the two major omega-3s in the fish oil capsules—DHA—seemed to be the major positive factor, since the women with the highest blood levels of DHA also enjoyed the biggest reductions in their BMIs.
As with all such studies, the message is not that omega-3s are magic bullets that can counteract the effects of eating too many calories.
Instead, it appears that calorie-balanced diets—i.e., those containing just enough to meet metabolic needs—aid weight loss better when they include ample amounts of the marine-source omega-3s found so abundantly in fish oil and fatty fish.
- Andersson A, Nalsen C, Tengblad S, Vessby B. Fatty acid composition of skeletal muscle reflects dietary fat composition in humans.Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Dec;76(6):1222-9.
- Kunesova M, Braunerova R, Hlavaty P, Tvrzicka E, Stankova B, Skrha J, Hilgertova J, Hill M, Kopecky J, Wagenknecht M, Hainer V, Matoulek M, Parizkova J, Zak A, Svacina S. The influence of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and very low calorie diet during a short-term weight reducing regimen on weight loss and serum fatty acid composition in severely obese women. Physiol Res. 2006;55(1):63-72. Epub 2005 Apr 26.