Supplements can give you an added boost in achieving your desired physique and can also help boost your immune function. There are many varieties of supplements on the market today which makes it tricky in choosing the right product that works best for you. I have compiled a list of the top supplements I recommend (my favorites!) and what they can do for you.
- If you maintain a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy oils, and nuts you may not need to supplement with a multi-vitamin or other vitamins.
- Multi-vitamins help fill in the missing pieces to your body’s health puzzle. What you may not be getting from your diet your multi-vitamin will fill that in. For example, Folic Acid and Vitamin D are a few things we may not get enough of in our diet. Taking a multi-vitamin will help provide these for our body.
- Be careful not to take too much of a certain vitamin. Have you ever heard the saying, “Too much of a good thing”? Well it’s true. Too much of a good thing can be harmful. Take the recommended daily dose.
- The best way for your body to get the nutrients it needs is to eat whole foods. Following the food pyramid is a great starting point. A multi-vitamin will help fight any nutrients your body may be deficient in.
- Keep in mind that the quality and composition of multi – vitamins can vary significantly between different brands. Below is an excerpt from Charlie Seltzer author of “Should you take a multi – vitamin? Benefits and side effects” on builtlean.com,
“I like to break down multivitamins into two broad categories: whole-food derived (found in natural, whole foods) and synthetic (created in laboratories). Without getting too technical, it is important to understand that just because something has been synthesized in a laboratory doesn’t necessarily mean it is not the same as what is found in nature. However, it is often different – for instance, synthetic Vitamin E is structurally unique from that of natural Vitamin E.”
- Charlie Seltzer MD recommends whole food multi-vitamins by Megafood and Garden of Life. These don’t contain any chemicals or synthetic nutrients.
- Omega – 3’s or Fish Oils
- Fish oils are important in preventing heart disease/managing heart disease, lowering blood pressure, reduces triglycerides, and can help slow the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
- The best way for the body to obtain omega – 3s is from eating fish 2 -3 times a week.
- Fish high in omega – 3s are: salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, lake trout and tuna.
- For those of you who do not like fish, supplementing with a omega – 3s in pill form is a great choice.
- Take the recommended dose; usually no more than 3 grams a day.
- Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance found in the fluid around our joints.
- Glucosamine is very important in the process of building cartilage. Cartilage helps cushion the joints.
- As we age glucosamine levels decrease making the possibility of joint injury more likely.
- Glucosamine is a great supplement for those suffering with bone or joint issues.
Now, let’s get into some fun supplements that are geared more towards the fitness aesthetics and performance!
- Pre – Workout!
- Pre – workouts are supplements that contain ingredients that provide a boost of energy, focus, increased strength, speed, and endurance.
- Most athletes and “gym-rats” (like me) take pre – workouts before training sessions.
- My favorite pre – workout brands are Metabolic Nutrition’s ESP Blue Raspberry flavor and Cellucor’s C4 mimosa flavor. (de-lish!)
- Just a little bit of advice on pre – workouts. If you have been working out without using a pre-workout and you don’t need the added energy it provides I would recommend not starting regular consumption. Like any caffeinated beverage, it is addictive. Once you start taking it you feel the need to keep taking it and keep taking it. Catch my drift? If you do decide to begin taking a pre-workout supplement, I recommend cycling on and off to avoid becoming addicted!
- Creatine is a compound formed in protein metabolism and is present in much living tissue. It is involved in the supply of energy for muscular contraction.
- Helps increase your overall workout intensity; allows you to workout longer and harder.
- Better muscular contraction (especially good for athletes who train using stop and go movements).
- Allows you to participate in frequent training sessions
- Results in huge muscle pumps (yesss!)
- Helps increase your metabolic rate
- “Glutamine is the most common amino acid found in your muscles – over 61% of skeletal muscle is Glutamine. Glutamine consists of 19% nitrogen, making it the primary transporter of nitrogen into your muscle cells.” (bodybuilding.com)
- “During intense training, glutamine levels are greatly depleted in your body, which decreases strength, stamina and recovery. It could take up to 6 days for glutamine levels to return to normal – and glutamine plays a key role in protein synthesis. Studies have shown that L-glutamine supplementation can minimize breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism.” (bodybuilding.com)
- Helps your body secrete the human growth hormone or HGH which helps burn fat and supports new muscle growth.
- The best times to take glutamine are pre- and post-workout and right before bed.
For more information on the benefits of glutamine visit the link below:
- Protein Powder
- Supplementing with protein powder can be beneficial if used properly.
- Protein is used by the body to build and repair muscles and bones after times of stress.
- Protein is an essential nutrient that is needed daily by the body.
- If you cannot consume the adequate amount of protein needed by the body through your diet alone, supplementing with a protein powder can be very beneficial.
- Do not assume that any and all protein powders can be used as meal replacements. Do your research. Some proteins can replace meals and others can’t. Be sure to read the labels!
There are different types of protein powders that exist to fit your goals and needs.
- Whey Concentrate
- Casein Protein
- Whey Isolates
- Hydrolysate Protein
- Soy Protein
- Milk Protein Isolate
- Egg Albumin
Follow the link below to find the right protein for you!
Supplements are called supplements for a reason. They should not replace anything in your diet unless specified by a doctor. They are to be used ALONG WITH a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and oils.
The true definition of the word supplements is
“Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.”
I hope this information will help you in your future fitness and health endeavors. Honestly, fitness is all about trial and error. What works well for someone may not work well for another person. The same can be said for supplements. Some people may have great reactions to supplementing with creatine or glutamine but that doesn’t mean you will. You have to try it out and see for yourself!
What are your favorite supplements?