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  • Info for Beginners PTIII: SUPPLEMENTATION (EFA's)

    In my experience it seems that as the more you start to transgress from beginners through to the more seasoned athletes, their awareness of nutrition, supplementation and the needs that should be met is increased. This is a good thing, as generally speaking experienced weight training athletes will benefit from an inclusion of certain supplements into their diet. This can (and should) be tailored to the individual and their own specific requirements, but I will try to provide you with a reasonably detailed overview of what I feel are the most important one. This first instalment will hopefully give you a good understanding of the humble Omega 3.



    I’ve always said that if you are going to spend your money on supplements then a good, high quality oil should be at the top of your list. They are a good natural choice to treat depression, muscular inflammation or anything specific with regards to the cardiovascular system. With regards on whether to use flax or fish oil, I would be leaning towards fish oil unless you are vegan. Generally women absorb flax oil better than men due to the fact that the body has to convert the oil before it can use it. Most people get enough Omega 6 & 9 through their diet, it's the Omega 3 that there tends to be more of a requirement for and the Omega 3 content in the flax oil is a lot lower than what you would get in an Omega 3 supplement sourced from fish.

    Most people that use EFA’s don’t use them in big enough quantities, 2-3g seems to be the widely accepted dosage. I would say 5g is a good starting point but I wouldn't be too afraid to go heavy with them, just tailor the dosage to meet your needs & requirements. The only common side effect can be an upset stomach in which case you can just reduce the Omega 3 oils until you start to come right, much like you would do when you are running big doses of Vitamin C. I would consider a big dosage of Omega 3 to be around the 10-20g mark personally; I know of a top NZ track cycling coach that had his squad on well over 15,000mg Omega 3 a day with good results.

    Be aware of your diet in combination with running Omega 3's as it has been shown in studies that cholesterol-lowering diets can increase the risk of depression. This is due to the decrease in Omega 3 fatty acids which can gradually reduce the DHA levels in the brain (the brain comprises of anywhere up to 60% DHA). DHA is an essential part of the neuronal cell membranes, but if it becomes replaced by Omega 6 fatty acids then the likelihood of depression increases as this can cause changes to the structure of the membranes. You also want to be looking for Omega 3's that have a good ratio of DHA to EPA, the common ratio tends to be 180/120 but you can get higher than that (usually oils contain higher levels and you do get what you pay for). I have routinely taken up to 18g before on a regular basis and noticed no aches, pains or even DOMS after hard training sessions. *
    *(1) Another bonus is that supplemental EFA’s stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults.

    It's advisable to take your Omega 3's with meals as the food can aid absorption as well as preventing/limiting any reflux, although you can get good quality 'Reflux Free' fish oils nowadays. Price is indicative of quality and these are one supplement you do want to be getting as good as you can afford. They are pretty safe overall, just be careful of the interactions they may have with any mood-improving medications you may be taking as well as blood thinning agents such as Warfarin and aspirin.

    Other good food sources of healthy fats that may benefit your performance are mixed raw nuts (walnuts, brazil, macadamia are all good), fish, avocado, rice bran oil, almond butter, coconut oil etc. Ideally you want to be eating a variety of foods that are higher in monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats. MUFA’s can be of benefit to insulin levels and blood sugar control and PUFAs (found mostly in plant-based foods and oils) may help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as reducing LDL whilst raising HDL cholesterol. If you are looking to consume Omega 3 through diet alone you need to make sure you are eating raw fish; cooking denatures the Omega 3 as well as reducing the levels of DHA.


    ** (1)
    Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Muscle Protein Synthesis: NCT00794079

  • #2


    General health ~ 1,000-2,000mg
    Moderate disease/stress ~ 3,000-4,000mg
    Mood/behaviour/cognition ~ 5,000mg
    Severe disease/stress ~ 6,000mg+
    Bipolar disorder ~ 9,600mg (optimal dosage according to studies)

    We know from studies that it's great for improving membrane fluidity, is the brains fat of choice for both function and structure and it holds significant merit for reducing post workout inflammation/DOMS.