Are you taking the right supplements for your goals?

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.

supplements

  1. Multi-Vitamins
    • 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Glucosamine
    • 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!

 ropes

  1. 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!
    • fitness-clothing-photography-1
  1. Creatine
    • 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
    • running_photography_justin_grant
  1. Glutamine
    • “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:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/glutamine.htm

  1. 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!

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/protein-types-best-for-you.htm

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?

-mk

References

5 Types of Fat Shredding Cardio

First let me say that I am not one of those religious cardio bunnies you see sweating their life away for an hour on the treadmill. Unless you’re main goal is to shred tons of fat, and even then it’s questionable, I don’t feel like steady state cardio is as much of a necessity as weight lifting; but everyone is different. However, I do believe that various types of cardio or cardiovascular training are extremely important about 5 days a week. Cardio keeps your heart strong and healthy and also keeps your body fat down.

Below is a list of five different types of cardio and what they can do for your body!

  1. Steady State Training

treadmill

  • Involves training at the same workload OR the same speed & level for an extended period of time ranging from about 20 minutes to 60 minutes.
  • Steady state cardio is constant; there are no moments of rest.
  • Steady state cardio will burn fat AND muscle. Those of you more focused on building muscle might want to avoid steady state training.
  • An example would be jogging at speed level 7 for 30 minutes on a treadmill or using the Stairmaster at level 4 for 30 minutes.
  • This type of cardio training is great for all fitness levels especially beginners.
  1. HIIT: High Intensity Interval training (my favorite!)hiit
  • HIIT requires you to train at a high level for a short period of time followed by a relaxed recovery period.
  • The switch from a higher intensity to a lower intensity really heats things up and confuses the body.
  • This type of training is great for all fitness levels.
  • For those of you who are focused on burning fat without eating away at the muscle you have worked so hard to build, I would recommend utilizing HIIT. It allows the body to burn fat while holding on to muscle.
  • An example would be training on theStairmaster beginning at level 4 for the first 4 minutes. Bump it up 2 levels to level 6 for 2 minutes. Bump it up 2 more levels to level 8 for 2 minutes then bump it up to level 9 for the last-minute. Repeat this process 1 – 2 more times to complete the training sequence.
    • You can adjust levels/speeds to your fitness level. Beginners may start at level 3 instead of 4.
  1. Fartlek Training – My brother introduced me to this type of cardio training after he received his PT certification.

fartlek

  • Fartlek training is very similar to HIIT.
  • Traditional Fartlek training is unstructured and is performed by surging from one landmark to another.
  • It can also be structured. What I mean by that is you can train by determining what speed and time to perform at; basically creating a routine.
  • This type of training is very demanding, therefore is recommended for people who are experienced with running and fitness.
  • For more information on Fartlek training and sample Fartlek training workouts click the link below.

http://running.competitor.com/2012/03/training/workout-of-the-week-fartlek-session_49932

  1. Circuit Training or Super Circuit Trainingdeadlift
  • Traditional circuit training involves rotating through pre-determined exercises for a certain amount of time or rounds.
  • Super Circuit Training is aerobic training that involves a combination of anaerobic exercises like resistance training with short periods of cardio.
  • An example of this would be to perform 3 minutes on the treadmill followed by 1 minute of squats then immediately performing 3 minutes on the elliptical followed by 1 minute of leg presses, so on and so forth.
  • This type of training is perfect for those of you trying to squeeze maximum training into a short period of time.
  • Super Circuit training is also great for those of you competing in anesthetic competitions like body building. It allows you to burn the fat without wasting precious muscle mass.
  1. Cross Trainingcrosstraining
  • When I do decide to train cardio, I am a huge fan of cross training. I get bored easily so I like to switch it up to keep my motivation high.
  • Cross training is simply switching from different cardio machines remaining on one machine for a certain amount of time and then switching to another for a certain amount of time.
  • An example of this type of training would be performing 10 minutes on the treadmill, switch to 10 minutes on the arc trainer, and then 10 minutes on the stationary bike.
  • You can also choose to switch machines each day: stationary bike one day, treadmill the next day, etc.

Frequency, Duration, & Intensity

  • 3 – 5 sessions a week is recommended
  • 20 – 60 minute sessions
  • 55% – 90% of your max heart rate

These numbers can change. We aren’t robots therefore we are not all the same and do not require the same times, intensities, and frequencies. Consult with your doctor or personal trainer to determine what your body needs.

Not one type of cardio is better than the other though each one yields very different results. When determining which type of cardio training is best for you I recommend utilizing one that you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy cardio at all HIIT or Super Circuit Training might be right up your ally. If you are a book-worm and don’t mind reading while doing steady state cardio then by all means give it a whirl!

You need to find the type of physical activity you enjoy doing to keep your body and mind as healthy as possible. If you don’t enjoy it, do you think you’ll be motivated to do it 3 – 5 times a week? My guess is probably not; I wouldn’t.

Be healthy. Be happy.

-mk