If you read my latest post on pre workout nutrition, you learned that pre training carbohydrate consumption lowers testosterone levels, and suppresses those levels for a long period of time. This post is related, but not directly. Today I will be discussing polyunsaturated fats and their role in testosterone production. I’ll be specifically dealing with the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. This will relate to the bigger picture of pre and post workout nutrition as I will piece all of this together for you once I have presented all of the relevant information.
As many of you already know, I’m a big believer in the benefits of fish oil. It’s great for lowering inflammation and it increases protein synthesis. What’s not to like about that? Those of us that make training a priority (everyone reading this) need all the help we can get when it comes to managing pain and enhancing recuperation in order for our muscles to recover and grow. Fish oil definitely helps in this regard.
There is a fairly large negative that I have somewhat recently learned that is associated with fish oil, and specifically EPA. EPA is a polyunsaturated fat, and like all polyunsaturated fats, EPA has ben shown to lower testosterone production. The interesting thing is how it does this. (This is what will ultimately tie in to the pre workout nutrition conclusion that I will be bringing to your attention.) Before I dive into the specifics, the study I’m using for support for this article was authored by Perez-Matute et al.
Back to where I was going with this – when levels of EPA increase, leptin expression is also increased by more than 70 percent, as was observed in the study. Raising leptin is good though, right? To a degree yes, because raising leptin while on a calorically reduced diet will further enhance the utilization of body fat for fuel, so there is that benefit. When you factor in the fact that with an increase in leptin, there is a corresponding decrease in testosterone production, you have to question the benefit to the overall goal.
Not only did this same study learn that EPA directly effected leptin expression, but it was also observed that EPA also increased glucose uptake and oxidation. By increasing glucose oxidation, there will be a corresponding decrease in anaerobic oxidation of glucose, which will result in less lactic acid production. Lactic acid has been shown to increase testosterone and growth hormone production, so this is another method by which EPA lowers testosterone.
Learning this hasn’t stopped me from my dosing protocol regarding fish oil. That may sound like I’m not paying attention to the same research I’ve brought you, but there are just too many benefits that fish oil offers to consider removing it from my supplement essentials.
I have however, altered the times at which I take fish oil. I still take a large dose before I train, as this will serve to decrease inflammation during training and increase protein synthesis afterwards. I no longer take it post training though, and there are two reasons for this. One is what we have been discussing here, and that is I want to take advantage of my elevated testosterone levels after I’m finished lifting. Secondly, I don’t want to diminish the inflammation that the muscles I have trained that day are being affected by. Inflammation post training is actually a good thing. This is one of the first steps in recovery. Even having a protein shake too quickly after training can alter the positive benefits that post training inflammation has to offer. I’ll not take my next dose of fish oil until several hours after training, when lowering inflammation is beneficial to recovery.
Now, that last bit directly related to pre and post training nutrition, but so did the entire article, I just haven’t explained how. When I next talk about pre (which is how this all started) and post (which has come to be included in this conversation, as the two are inextricably linked) nutrition, I promise to tie all of this together in a way that makes sense. I’ll also get into the specifics, as I previously promised, about pre and post training nutrition regarding bulking and cutting. Those two are different beasts altogether, and to some degree need to be addressed as such.