It’s a shame you’re not a quail. Researchers from Ottawa have found that quail can improve aerobic fitness just by sitting around and eating fats, provided they’re the right species.

The right kind are omega-3s, the same fats that have been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and blood pressure in humans.

After being given an omega-3 fatty acid supplement for six weeks, sedentary Bobwhite quail showed a huge increase in the activity of enzymes that improve endurance in their muscles compared to quail not given the supplement, it says in a research report published on Friday the Journal of Experimental Biology.

The same enzymes become more active and improve endurance in human athletes who train very hard for weeks, said University of Ottawa biologist Jean-Michel Weber, who conducted the study with student Simba Nagahuedi.

“What was really surprising,” he added, “is that even the most extreme cardio regimes in all types of mammals, from rats to dogs to humans, produce changes in enzyme activity that are less than what we see here found in the quail. ” feed with only omega-3 fatty acids. “

Sandpipers seem to use omega-3s as an “enhancer”.

In fact, the quail’s muscles exhibited enzyme activities as high as those of the migratory sand pipers that fly from the Canadian Arctic to South America each winter.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that the human body needs for metabolism but cannot produce. This makes it an “essential” fatty acid that people need to get from their diet.

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.

Foods high in content include salmon, halibut, sardines, albacore, trout, herring, walnut, flaxseed oil, and canola oil.

It was the sandpipers who Weber first suggested that omega-3 fatty acids could be a natural performance enhancer.

En route to South America, they stop in the Bay of Fundy on Canada’s Atlantic coast and spend two weeks fattening on mud prawns, which are known to be extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Weber said the evidence suggested the food was used to improve the birds’ performance before their migration. However, since the measurements were taken under natural circumstances, factors other than food itself may have come into play.

Sandpipers cannot be kept in captivity, so Weber decided to conduct a controlled laboratory experiment on Bobwhite quail, a bird that is usually very sedentary.

In the wild, the quails spend most of their time on the ground and hide under leaves when in danger, Weber said. If they are really threatened, they can fly, but no more than a few dozen meters.

“You’re not an endurance athlete at all.”

In fact, the birds in the experiment were so poor flyers that Weber’s efforts to directly test their endurance were unsuccessful.

Probably little effect on mammals

Still, her apparent fitness level seemed to benefit tremendously from the special diet, leading Weber to conclude that the effects of an omega-3 diet were likely to work in all birds.

So far it has not been tested on mammals such as humans, although Weber is researching it.

He believes mammals may be reacting, but the effect might not be as significant given that millions of people around the world are training for endurance sports at some point.

“The effect is so strong in birds – if it were the same in humans, someone would have surely discovered it by now.”

Consuming very large amounts of omega-3 fats (more than three grams per day) can cause problems in humans such as: B. increased bleeding, increased levels of low density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) and an increased susceptibility to bacterial diseases due to suppression of the immune system and inflammatory responses.

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