fish oil belly fat
Weight Loss

Fish Oil and Belly Fat

written by Vin Kutty

comments 26 comments

‘Your product does not work,’ he complained. ‘I took your Omega-3 for a month and my belly fat didn’t go away.’ 

fish oil belly fat
Exercise, portion control, and a diet that is low in sugar and refined grains are still the best reduce belly fat. Not fish oil.

 

The Crossfit fitness community has several followers who take large amounts of fish oil in hopes of losing weight and reducing exercise soreness.

I’ve written that fish oil does not reduce cholesterol. Let me add another item to the Does-Not-Do list: melt away belly fat.

Fish oil does not reduce belly fat.

There are fish oil brands that are sold as part of a weight loss program. Sure, combining exercise with fish oil helps support a healthy metabolism, but Omega-3 by itself will not make stubborn belly fat go away.*

Psst…want to know a REAL weight loss secret?

Insulin.

There are several reasons why people become obese. Overeating and laziness are usually blamed. These are not the #1 and 2 reasons.

Having helped many people shed pounds, I’d rank ‘what you eat’ as the #1 reason for obesity. In my experience, it’s slightly more important than ‘how much you eat,’ given you are consuming reasonable quantities of food.*

Back to insulin…

If you look at most successful, popular diets, regardless of how contrary they seem on the surface, they all help you lose weight by doing one thing: reduce insulin levels.

Atkins Diet
Zone Diet
Ornish Diet
Paleo Diet
South Beach Diet
Fuhrman Diet

All successful diets reduce your insulin level

How? By reducing or eliminating sugar and processed, refined carbohydrates.

Sugar, refined carbs and starches all get converted to the same things in the body – sugar.

Since the body is not capable of storing large volumes of sugar, you need to either burn it or store it as fat.

Eat a bagel? You’d better spend at least an hour on the treadmill after eating it or the carbs get broken down into sugar. And sugar will need to get stored.

Enter insulin. Your pancreas releases insulin to start the process of packing away sugar and starches as fat. This makes your fat cells bigger.

You cannot get fat without a big helping hand from insulin.

Eat pizza and beer? Well, your pancreas has to crank out a LOT of insulin to keep you from going into hyperglycemia, a dangerous situation. If you’re a teenager, your body can handle this. (Teens today have much higher insulin levels than a generation ago.) But if you’re not a teenager, well, keep reading…

As more sugar gets stuffed into storage as fat, you gain weight. The heavier you get, your body becomes less sensitive to insulin. In other words, your cells become deaf to the insulin trying to store fat. So the pancreas has to crank out even more insulin to get the cells to listen.

This is called insulin resistance. (Great technical details here.)

Insulin does two things that affect your weight:

  1. It helps pack away calories (as fat.)
  2. It keeps your stored fat from being burned. It keeps fats cells in lock-mode.

That second point is a real bummer.

This basically means that even if you’re starving, your stored fat reservers won’t be tapped for energy if your insulin level is high.

If you want to burn fat, you need to unlock your fat cells so its contents can be burned. If you have high blood insulin levels, that fat isn’t going anywhere. Fat cells remain locked and you will have a very hard time losing weight.

Cut out sugar, cut out refined and processed grains. Heck, why pull punches. Cut out grains altogether, especially wheat. Wheat is fantastic at raising your blood sugar and subsequently insulin.

Short video on Insulin Response with Dr. Peter Attia


A somewhat simpler explanation from ‘Fat Head’

How do you know what your insulin level is?

Well, you need a blood test.

But there is a simpler way to predict what it’s going to be. Measure the blood sugar that is going to trigger insulin release.

Measuring blood sugar is easy. Go down to the corner drug store and ask the pharmacist to help you choose a blood sugar test kit. A little pin-prick and you measure the sugar level in your blood an hour and two hours after each meal or after that 100-calorie light snack of ‘healthy whole grain’ goodness.

If your blood sugar is higher than 120 after 1 and 2 horus, then chances are your insulin levels are high. If it is over 140, talk to your doctor, you may be diabetic or pre-diabetic, in which case, you have bigger problems.

This is a really, really easy way to find out what you can and cannot eat. Cut out whatever jacks up your blood sugar.

My guess: this technique will rule out most sugary, starchy, carby stuff. Chances are, non-starchy vegetables, meats, seafood, eggs, nuts, healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and butter will not budge your blood glucose levels much.

If you do this, your fat cells will get ‘unlocked’ and fat that you’ve been storing for a long, long time will finally be able to be released and burned for energy.

Don’t be shocked if you lose a LOT of weight this way.

Losing weight is nice.

 

So back to our caller who said OmegaVia did not reduce his belly fat.

Want to reduce belly fat?

Cut out sugar and grains and in its place, add healthy fats and protein.

A little Omega-3 doesn’t hurt, but fish oil by itself won’t get rid of belly fat.

Parting shot…

Image credit: Geo Cristian

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

  1. Came across your blogs…love your way of explaining…

    I am 37 years old..for the past year my TG has been going up (235, 277, 285) and also for the past three years my weight hasn’t changed despite dieting and exercise… (10 Kgs/22 lbs overweight) My doc is advising life style changes…but I don’t eat junk food, Chips, Fried items etc..Once a week I eat chicken and fish..three times a week i eat eggs..otherwise it is bread, Rice, Lentils and vegetables….but I use lot of coconut in my dishes…

    I want to know :
    1) Is it possible to control my TG if I give up Rice and Coconut?
    2) Can we have Red wine to control TG?
    3) Is your product available in India?

    Thank you..

    • Hi Sindhu – your triglyceride numbers are high.

      1. Yes, giving up sugar, sweets, rice, wheat, flour will drop your triglycerides like a rock. Start with eliminating rice and wheat.
      2. Giving up coconut oil and coconut is a bad idea. Coconuts contain healthy fats that do not increase blood lipids and removing it from your diet will not lower TG at all.
      3. Red wine will increase triglycerides.
      4. We do not ship OmegaVia to India, but you may be able to buy it from amazon.com and they may ship to India.

  2. Hi, Vin Kutty
    After reading your article, we come to know overeating and laziness are usually blamed for the overweight & fatty belly. Fish oil Omega-3 is help us many ways to remain slim like that – it lessens over weight, cutting out sugar and refined carbohydrates. Thank you for your words of wisdom & your science is solid.
    For your good health.

    • Hi David – thank you. Just to be clear, I believe that eating sugar and refined carbohydrates have a lot more to do with obesity than lack of exercise. And I don’t think fish oil will help you much with weight loss if you do not reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates.

  3. I’m confused. I thought all of the refined carbs get either burned or stored as glycogen? My understanding is that de novo lipogenesis is rare in humans. Where am I wrong?

    • Hi Tom – if you regularly run marathons or swim for hours, you will burn all of the energy from refined carbs and your stored glycogen. This is rarely the case. The human body can only store very limited amount of sugar and carbohydrate. If our activity level is low or moderate, the body has no choice but to resort to de novo lipogenesis. I am certain that de novo lipogenesis was rare in traditional hunter gatherer societies…due to their diet and activity levels. But sadly, most of us sit or drive most of the day.

  4. Hi Vin Kutty,

    I’m just wondering about a myth about losing belly fat. From what I heard is that it doesn’t matter what kind of food we have as long as we can create the calorie deficit. A guy told me that we can eat as much as junk food we like if we eat less than BMI. He also told me that the quality of food is not important when it comes to weight loss. We can gain weight even we eat healthy and have no sugar at all in case that we eat more than the calorie requirement so I would like to ask whether this myth has some grain of truth or it’s just a myth? Thanks for your great article.

    • Hi Frida – it is true that you can gain weight eating just healthy foods because you can still slightly overeat and not move much. But your definition of healthy may be different from mine. My definition of healthy is whole foods – vegetables, meats, seafood, eggs, nuts, fruits and lots of fats like olive oil, coconut oil and grass-fed butter. If you eat what I just described above, it will be very difficult to overeat because the fat and protein content of my diet makes it virtually impossible for me to overeat. I know when I’m full. My 8 AM breakfast can have as much as 100 grams of fat and it completely kills my interested in eating lunch. A healthy diet curbs appetite and cravings. So the trick is to find what works for you.

      As far as eating whatever you want, as long as the calories are watched is nonsense. Stop counting calories. Start watching WHAT you eat.

      What kind of food you eat absolutely matters. As long as you keep it very low in sugar, refined grains, vegetable seed oils and junk foods, you will make improvements. Assuming you don’t have emotional issues tied to eating, in which case, that needs to be addressed first.

      • Vin,
        You eat 100 grams of fat in one meal??? Wow. What could you eat to even get it up to that number? Are you downing tubs of coconut oil? 🙂

        • Hi PJ – Sometimes, yes. I don’t think it is a good idea to over-consume any one of the macros in one sitting. 100 grams of fat is a lot and I don’t recommend that anyone do this on a regular basis. My point was: fat is not to be feared. But there is a lot of bacon-worshipping going on out there, not just for taste reasons, but as a middle finger to faceless nutrition authority. These folks and the extreme low-carb folks often do over-consume fat. That’s probably not a good idea.

          As for me, I’m guessing I eat 100-fat-grams a couple of times a week during breakfast. You’re close with coconut oil. It’s full fat coconut milk smoothies that contain a tablespoon or two of melted cocoa butter, some cocoa powder, great lakes gelatin, berries etc. And I may have a couple of eggs scrambled in grass-fed butter or olive oil. All in all, I’m probably pushing 100 grams.

          After a breakfast like that, I can’t bring myself to snack or even think of food until 6 PM or so.

  5. Vin,
    I am diabetic for the last 20 years. Now on Basal Insulin and Victoza. I have limited my tea to two cups a day with Splenda. Your take on artificial sweetners ? Can I take half a cup of milk daily?

    • Hi Paul – I would pass on milk if I were diabetic. Milk has lactose, a type of sugar. I am also not a fan of artificial sweeteners.

  6. I am 56 184 cm/weight 82kg. I eat what I think is a good diet eg Salad /fish /lean meat porridge for breakfast although I eat too much rice and have a weakness for scotch and sparkling mineral water. I am developing waste fat. With this limited info can you recommend some strategies to lose this excess?
    Thanks

    • Hi Michael – with the limited info, all I can suggest is that you replace the porridge and rice with some protein and healthy fat. Scotch and mineral water does not help at all. The same diet would not have done much to your middle 20 years ago, but at 56, things change. Check with your doctor to make sure you are not developing insulin resistance or prediabetes.

  7. Our ancestors ate a lot of wheat as bread products. Of course, it was unrefined. And wheat does contribute protein.
    Is there a type of wheat product that is acceptable?
    Should wheat be completely eliminated?

    • Hi Neucarol – this depends on how you define ‘ancestors.’ If you go back a few hundred years or even a couple of thousand years, then, yes, they ate wheat. I define ancestors as going back to pre-agricultural, pre-wheat days when your genetic blueprint was cast. Sure, our genes have changed a tiny little bit since the dawn of agriculture, but that change is miniscule and DOES NOT allow our bodies to compensate or accept harmful wheat proteins like gliadin, glutenin and gluten. The wheat that was consumed even 100 years ago was less harmful and contained less harmful proteins than the GMO versions of wheat do today. The proteins mentioned above do not contribute much to nutritional value – they are mostly excreted undigested due to their molecular structure. These proteins cause a laundry list of harm and are quite addictive. Defending wheat for its protein and fiber content is like relying on tap water for your calcium. In my opinion, there is no wheat that is acceptable. I believe it has no place in human or animal nutrition. Here’s another way to look at it: the wheat plant does not want you to eat its seeds, which is its next generation. Animals can run away or defend themselves if you try to eat them. But plants cannot. So they engage in a quiet chemical warfare against you, starting with your gut. There are hundreds of plant toxins that are developed naturally by plants to destroy the gut lining of insects that eat them. Seeds of plants kill insects by the millions every day…we don’t hear about it. At a cellular level, our gut lining is not that different from that of insects that the plants are trying to kill. We are not immune to this silent chemical warfare. Just like we protect our kids, so do plants. Eating their next generation (seeds, legumes, and grains) has a price. Leaves, fruits and most tubers, however, are fine for consumption

      • Thank you for your response. Your information on Omega 3 and probiotics can be validated by other research, but am surprised at the opinion on wheat, which is just that, an opinion, and not based on scientific research.
        As a Home Economist and farmer’s daughter, I know and value the place of wheat in the human diet. The protein, vitamins and fiber are essential nutrients. (As to excreted protein, a certain amount of protein–no matter its source–is excreted.) And let’s not forget that wheat is an inexpensive nutrient for a large part of the world.
        I understand that many people experience benefits from gluten-free and/or paleo diets. However, ‘no place in human or animal nutrition’ is painting with a very broad brush. I would suggest that many issues people have with eating wheat products is the addition of preservatives, etc., in other words, processing. Also, without the developments in wheat genetics, most of the world would have starved decades ago.
        As to animal nutrition, they have been eating wheat from day one. Most commercially available beef is wheat-fed, so it would follow that grass-fed would be promoted here, but it is not.
        Let’s agree to disagree on the value of wheat for both human and animal consumption.

        • Hi Neucarol – this blog is really about Omega-3, for which, I have mountains of reference papers. I live and breathe research papers. That does not mean that I don’t have them for my position on wheat or that I switch over to opinion-only when it comes to wheat and grains. But you may be right in assuming that there isn’t a pile of research equaling Omega-3 in size for avoiding wheat. However, the existing research evidence against wheat is growing. Here is an excellent and very readable paper that you ought to read: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705319/

          Also, a lot of people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity are reacting to the FODMAPs, not just preservatives…a whole different can of worms for another day.

  8. Hi
    Good website, I have some questions, in one of the comments you said “eating eggs, fat and meat is NOT the reason why your cholesterol is high”

    Egg(yolk) and meat contain a lot of cholesterol, How eating them do not contribute to high levels of cholesterol?

    Is not safer for a person with cholesterol problems to avoid food with high cholesterol levels?

    Thanks

    • Hi Suli – if you have a blood lipid problem that you’re working with a doctor on, you need to follow advised guidelines. Having said that, dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol have very little in common. Cholesterol is so important to bodily functions that it does not depend on food for it. The body prefers to make its own cholesterol. Most of the cholesterol you eat is excreted. If you eat a typical diet, only about 25% of your cholesterol comes from your diet. The rest is made by the body. Even if you eat a completely cholesterol-free diet, your body will generate cholesterol for functioning. Also, about 70% or people do not respond to dietary cholesterol at all.

      Fear of cholesterol and saturated fats is slowly going away, as we learn more about their roles in our health. More on that here: http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/the-straight-dope-on-cholesterol-part-i

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