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The Common Supplement That May Boost Your Muscle Recovery – runnersworld.com

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  • Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce muscle loss due to disuse, like when you are recovering from an injury and can’t work out as usual, according to a new study published in the FASEB Journal.
  • The fatty acid may help your body repair and build muscle, the researchers believe.

    A common supplement you can find in any drugstore might just be your recovery secret weapon when you’re sidelined by injury: Omega-3s just may stave off muscle loss when you have to press pause on your workout routine, a new study published in the FASEB Journal suggests.

    In the study, researchers separated a small sample of 20 healthy, young women into two groups: One group took a daily, 5-gram dose of an omega-3 supplement, and the control group took the same amount of a daily sunflower oil supplement.

    After consuming the supplement for four weeks, participants had one of their legs immobilized for two weeks using a knee brace. During these two weeks, participants did not exercise, and were just allowed normal daily physical activity, like walking around. This pretty much mimicked how you’d behave if you had an injury limiting your movement and putting your workouts on hold.

    After the immobilization period, participants returned to their normal daily activity and exercise for a two-week recovery period.

    When the researchers measured muscle size and mass afterwards, they discovered that the omega-3 supplement was effective at reducing muscle loss due to disuse: The supplement slowed the rate of muscle lost during the immobilization period compared to those taking the sunflower oil.

    In people taking the sunflower supplement, their lean leg mass decreased by 6 percent by the end of the study, while participants who took the omega-3s did not see any significant changes during the immobilization or recovery period. The omega-3 group also saw their muscle volume and mass recover fully to pre-immobilization levels by the end, while the control group did not.

    [Blast through a series of HIIT sessions to boost running strength and prevent injury with the IronStrength Workout.]

    This may be because omega-3s increase the rate of something called muscle protein synthesis, said study author Chris McGlory, Ph.D., of McMaster University in Canada. That means it helps produce proteins to help your body build and repair muscle.

    While researchers don’t yet have a recommended amount of fish or omega-3s to take to aid in muscle recovery, adding a omega-3 supplement or just looking to eat more food sources of it, like salmon or flax seeds, to your diet won’t hurt. Aside from being a potential muscle-recovery aid, the fatty acid is also essential for heart, lung, and joint health, and can help boost the immune system.

    Digital Editor
    Her love of all things outdoors came from growing up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and her passion for running was sparked by local elementary school cross-country meets.

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