So you got the gym bug now and you even hired a trainer and he/she has recommended you go out and get some supplements! You do as they say and grab a bunch of stuff that really doesn’t make sense or maybe you even went online and read a few articles or portions of them, as we are all guilty of, and have decided it is all too overwhelming to even face. Even worse you are reading mixed or even bad reviews online that contradict what you last read. What do you do?
The answer may not surprise you but only a qualified trainer, nutritionist, or physician can evaluate your stats. Your stats are your Body fat percentage, height, weight, BMI (body mass index), BMR (basal metabolic rate), sleep patterns, stress levels, training routine, frequency of training and rest days, and of course the most important your goals! Once those stats are evaluated and your goals are addressed you may get some specific recommendations on what to get.
My aim is to educate you on what your options are as there are thousands of companies bent on marketing flashy labels and keywords to get you to buy their brands. Not to say many of those brands are not good but when you approach this arena of buying supplements you have to follow a few guidelines so you are not led astray.
1st Tip – Listen to your body If your regimen has plateaued then it is possible to start adding something to your routine like L-Carnitine for supporting the metabolism of long chain fatty acids, or in other words it uses your own body fat as a source of energy thus increasing fat loss. By listening to your body you may be able to identify small adjustments that may be needed.
2nd Tip – Get a checkup Never buy supplements that list Thyroid support, or Hormonal support without getting your hormones checked by your doctor, endocrinologist, or qualified Naturopathic physician. The reason being that is you never know where you are currently at until a qualified professional takes a look at your blood work and clears you for supplementation. You may very well be dealing with some kind of deficiency and not even know it which may even explain your plateau.
3rd Tip – Stick with the basics. If you eat healthy and minimal stress then take the bare minimum of what your system is asking for such as:
A. Electrolyte/mineral blend with magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium to help keep your water levels replenished and to prevent muscle cramps.
B. Protein powder any one will do, whey protein isolate, egg white protein powder, or even a blended plant based protein powder. Protein provides a critical amount of amino acids that deal specifically with the building, and maintenance of muscle mass not to mention a key component to a healthy immune system.
4th Tip – Identify your condition CSS or Condition Specific Supplements are categorized as the supplements that will aid in a specific area such as digestion, blood sugar, and bowel movements of these you will see and feel a difference namely because a certain deficit you may have had was quickly replenished, you typically do not need to stay on them year round. However many athletes, and competitors who stay on high protein diets I recommend they usually stay on the digestive support because protein is much denser and requires additional enzymes than normal.
Probiotics are good bacteria that aid in the creation of friendly bacteria in the small and large intestine, which give you a large portion of your immune system through the gut.
Prebiotics like FOS (fructooligosaccharides) and Inulin are the actual sugar particles that are used to feed the probiotics in your gut without them you would not be able to create probiotics.
Digestive enzymes are the actual enzymes that are released by the pancreas to break down those dense proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that you are eating, without these guys we would be bloated after every meal regardless of what your situation is!
Fibers like flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds, all of which aid in bowel movements and aiding with lowering cholesterol levels.
Antioxidants such as the following could be argued as everyday supplements for some people because of the life changing effects they have been known for, on blood sugar alone, here they are Alpha Lipoic Acid, Cayenne pepper root 40,000HUT, Cinnamon Bark extract and my favorite Green Tea Extract with a 98% Polyphenol yield. These power houses are well documented for their blood sugar benefits, and even thermogenic effects for weight loss.
You may be reading this and going I thought this was supposed to be simple? Well it is just that simple. Eat to train, and Train to eat, your nutrition should be entirely comprised of what you eat, period! However we live in a competitive world and so we tend to turn to alternatives that will excel our abilities and give us quicker results. There is nothing wrong with that but as you go into that realm you have to be very careful and educated as to what you are putting in your body. I have worked in the retail sector where I consulted with thousands of people over the span of 7 years and I can honestly say that it never ceased to amaze me when someone came in with a list of things that they didn’t need and did not even know what they were for. Even being a certified nutritionist I initially did not put someone on a supplement regimen at first until I saw a commitment to their eating habits and exercise routine.
I am not saying there is not a place for things like a pre workout, or creatine, or even a joint support supplement. I am saying those are all CSS Conditional Support Supplements that aid in a certain area for either performance or support so you won’t know you need them until you are evaluated by a qualified fitness professional or your primary care doctor.
Your call to action is to be open minded about supplements however be guarded as what you hear and read as what you may be reading may very well be something you don’t need.
Here is to your health and fitness.
Guest post by Jonathan Millikan CN