What effects can one expect from a month of high dose omega 3 fish oil supplementation? I have some educated guesses as to the potential benefits to pounding 40 grams of fish oil per day for 30 days. But as for the “why”, well, there’s no better way to test theory than to do a little citizen science and subject that theory to the scrutiny of real world application.
It’s More than Just About Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplementation. It’s About Citizen Science
I’ve written about this previously, but the bottom line in all healing and coaching arts is this: results trump credentials. The revolutionaries in the Paleo movement realized this long ago, and now the idea is beginning to spread to a wider audience.
And make no mistake: our brand of citizen science has nothing to do with being mere outsource agents or data collectors for established academia. We have no problem with that model, as such. But this brand of citizen science is science done in the true sense of the word, and in the spirit of Da Vinci, Copernicus, Newton, Franklin, and Tesla.
Those whose ideas and passions were scorned and constrained by the establishment precisely because they put a glaring and embarrassing spotlight on the establishment’s inadequacies. Citizen Science criticizes not just with rhetoric, but by creating a better alternative. Better yet, an alternative that cannot be ignored.
In the words of Arthur Schopenhauer –
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
Credit where credit is due
First of all, this is hardly a unique protocol. High dose omega 3 fish oil supplementation has been touted by Dr. Mauro DiPasquale (to whom the cyclic ketogenic diet can be traced) as far back as the late 80s. More recently the idea was refined and revised by Charles Poliquin.
Ryan’s insight into genetics, methylation cycles, diet, botanicals, and philosophy are impressive indeed.
What are the expected benefits of high dose omega 3 fish oil supplementation?
There are many, for sure. But here’s the short list:
- cognitive enhancement
- mood elevation
- CNS “quieting” / calming / normalizing. Enhanced ability to transition from parasympathetic to sympathetic, and back again
- reduced inflammation
- gut healing
- reduced appetite (blunted carb cravings) / fat reduction
- reduction / “dissolving” of scar tissue
- enhanced hypertrophy
Not surprisingly, scant scientific literature (like, none) can be found on the effects of prolonged high dose omega 3 fish oil consumption. And I say “not surprisingly” because who is going to fund such a study? The only players who’d stand to benefit favorably from such a study would be the fish oil refiners themselves, and it’s not like they’re rolling in marketing dough.
Below, however, are a couple links for additional info. Note: plenty of anecdotal reports here. To my knowledge, there isn’t a single scientific study on high dose fish oil ingestion for long periods of time (i.e., 30 days or more). As with all undertakings in the realm of “citizen science”, I’m going in with eyes wide open. As should you, when doing the same. Caveat emptor; you know the drill.
- Anabolic Minds thread on high dose fish oil
- A general overview of fish oil benefits, by Mauro DiPasquale; no dose-specific benefits noted. Good information otherwise, though
- An interesting book on the benefits of EPAs and DHAs in general
- High dose fish oil in treating traumatic brain injury
Just as it’s billed: 40 grams (~10 teaspoons) of the good stuff a day, split between a 20 gram AM dose, then another 20 gram PM dose. Per Ryan’s suggestion, I’m using Pharmax’s Finest Pure Fish Oil for this experiment. Best quality for cost on the market. Because, let’s face it: this is not an inexpensive venture.
Carlson’s probably wouldn’t be a bad choice if Pharmax is out of reach or unavailable. The nod to Pharmax is due to their (reportedly) tighter heavy metal monitoring and formulation process.
I dosed on an empty stomach in the AM, and after dinner in the PM. From what we know currently, dosing either way doesn’t make a difference. As well, there were times (due to traveling, forgetfulness, etc.) that I took the entire dose in the AM or PM. Again, I don’t think it mattered much in the grand scheme of things.
40 grams of fish oil equates to ~10 teaspoons or 50 mls of liquid. Per the Emerson label, each teaspoon /4 grams / 5mls = 950 mg EPA and 725 mg DHA.
The Paleo / evolutionary argument is that it’s estimated we consumed 300 – 400 grams of Omega 3s / per week in our not too distant evolutionary past. So even at 40 grams / day we’re not hitting above that amount — even within the context of an otherwise healthy, dialed-in Paleo diet.
My initial Results (6 days in)
So I began this run on the evening of January 21st. First thing I noticed was a near complete blunting of appetite. Not from an “ugh…. my stomach is screwed” feeling, but from more of an “ I don’t even feel the urge to eat” standpoint. Very interesting.
In fact, on the morning of the 22nd (following my 20 gram AM dose), I got busy with work related issues and, since I was at the gym, took a break to dive into a heavy and hard workout. After a particularly hard set of deadlifts (it was 3:30 PM by this point), I lapsed into an unusual spell of dizziness. Odd for me, even with extreme efforts. I tried to piece together why this might be so, and realized that I hadn’t eaten all day. Not one damn thing. Now, I usually eat on internal cue, but in the absence of that normal cue, well…
Note to self: while on this protocol, you’ll need to remember to eat sufficiently to support work output. Interesting indeed.
I’ve also noticed an elevated mood; a peaceful, easy feeling, as it were. Somewhat like the feeling of having just meditated.
As well, I’ve noticed an enhanced energy. Not in a jittery sense, but more of a focused ability to “get shit done”. I continuously struggle with curiosity run amuck (ADD?), and I tend to dive into (albeit super interesting) rabbit holes from which I emerge hours later wondering just where in the hell the workday went. I now seem to have the ability to both better control that, and to glean whatever information I’m looking for without getting sucked into those vortexes. If nothing else comes from the experiment, this, for me, is a huge win.
Another thing I’ve noticed (again, I’m just 6 days into the experiment), is a refined clarity, vibrancy and sharpness of vision. Contrast and colors are incredibly sharp. It seems to me akin to low dose LSD in that respect. Without, though, the emotional separateness. In other words, my feeling throughout the day is very “warm” and connected. Very cool indeed.
Any potential negatives to high dose Omega 3 supplementation?
As discussed, this protocol can be costly. 40 grams / day (at Emerson’s current price) works out to about $240 for the month’s supply. The health benefits though, could be well worth it. Especially if you suspect inflammation is running rampant.
And too, the intent is to dose high for a month, then taper to a more reasonable (in a cost effectiveness sense) 5 grams / day or so. The follow-on protocol is still to be determined, and would be highly n=1 driven.
It’s also a pain in the ass to be tethered to a bottle of fish oil. Capsules could do the trick (for travel, etc.), but that would get *really* cost prohibitive. Possibly a combo of the two would work; relying on capsules in a pinch. As of now though, I’m all liquid, all the time.
One more thing: some people do seem to have a diminished thirst response while on this protocol. Not sure why that would be (and it didn’t happen to me), but it is something to be mindful of.
Chris Kresser’s take
Chris has written this recent piece on the potential negatives of higher dose fish oil supplementation.
Note: all studies cited in Chris’ piece were done using relatively low doses of fish oil / omega 3s. So there’s that.
But mostly my counter to Chris’ piece revolves around the rather myopic view these studies take. Which, of course, skews the outcome.
In other words, there seems to be a tendency in most practitioners to be lured into this reductionist mindset; studying the isolated expression of one factor or another to determine whether or not an activity is good or bad. Majoring in minors, as it were.
My point here is that we have to step back and understand what the action in question is affecting, vis-a-vis, the human in its current environment. The totality of the epigenetic input matters greatly.
For my part, I’m only interested in the isolated minutia insofar as they might better drive (by tweaking) the outcome. In other words, using isolated minutia as a “fine adjust” to the 30-thousand-foot-view of using the stimulus itself as the “coarse adjust”.
Another point is that some activities don’t scale. That is, when we go the reductionist route what we’re really trying to do is develop systems and processes (in this case, healing modalities and performance enhancement) that can be translated into repeatable, duplicatable and expedited expected outcomes.
This simply doesn’t work when we’re dealing with individuals comprised of unique genetic make ups in unique epigenetic environments. The same reason that cookie-cutter training routines have serious limitations. We can delve into the minutia, yes, but only in the context of the individual and the sum of his epigenetic exposure.
And believe me, I get it. As a business person, I do realize this “non-scalability” really sucks! But at the end of the day, we’re talking about the healing and coaching arts here, *not* the manufacture of bobble head dolls. The act of healing and coaching is, above all, an art.
The teaching of that art might be somewhat scaleable, but not the act itself.
Heal thyself, harden thyself, change the world ~