“Where do I stand on supplements?!” A question I have been asked for as long as I can remember. And despite the changes in the industry over the years, I can finally say my standpoint really hasn’t changed. Which leads me to the point of finally feeling confident in sharing my beliefs and own practices around the topic.
Before we get in to the nitty gritty, I want to make clear that these are my opinions and own beliefs and practices and all advice I give to my clients is based on their doctors approval and previous health screenings. Obviously, each individual has different circumstances and requirements based on their current health.
I am a firm believer that supplements do have their place, but they are NOT the secret or “magic pill”! They are exactly that – a supplement to a balanced nutritional intake, NOT a replacement. I do also believe, now more than ever the food we are eating is not supplying the same nutrition to our bodies that it used to, or perhaps our bodies are not absorbing the nutrients on a cellular level like they did in past generations. This is a topic for another day, but if you are interested check out research and studies done on soil quality and toxicity of fruit and veggie quality.
Anyway, I digress. I believe that whole foods are the foundation of our health and supplements are the missing link to absorption and uptake of nutrients as our foods are so void of nutrients these days. First and for most you need to make sure your food is in balance and you are getting the right amount for macros (carbs, fats and proteins) for the goal that you are working towards – maintenance, body fat loss, muscle mass gain, improved fitness etc… I see protein shakes as a quick and easy way to increase protein take for women (and men) in their diets when they don’t naturally eat enough protein (animal or plant based) and need to supplement on top of their food.
I now personally take and sell a plant based protein powder due to my preference, knowing exactly what ingredients are in them, all natural sweeteners and no lactose derived whey protein. That is not to say that whey based proteins are better or worse. That is just a choice and decision I have come to over the years of trial and error.
That leads me to the next questions: When should you take protein powder?
The belief and theory that you need to take a protein shake within a “window” immediately after training is to deliver protein to the muscles post training and help recovery. If you don’t get some protein in immediately you are not going to turn “catabolic” (muscle breakdown). However, it is ideal to prevent blood sugar drops and give the body the correct energy it needs to make the most of the training that you just did. The need to then eat a meal within 1 hour of that shake again is an older theory based on the PTR (protein turn over rate) and that providing small amounts of protein to your body every 2-3hrs will help “fuel the furnace” prevent muscle breakdown and speed up your metabolism. All great benefits of eating regularly but that is not to say that if you don’t eat within 1 hour of your post training shake, or don’t eat every 2-3 hours that you won’t get these benefits.
Another question I often get asked is should I really take BCAA’s and L-Glutamine? I know there are many different opinions on this one in the industry! I personally take a protein shake that includes L-Glutamine and BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) in it, and I take a drink a natural “intra” superfood drink that also includes more BCAA’s, L-Glutamine, vitamins and electrolyte blend. Can you get away with not drinking these before / during / after training?! YES most certainly. Again if your diet is on point, your fluid intake is on point and your absorption of nutritionist and water uptake is good then it is not the end of the world if you don’t take BCAA’s or L-Glutamine… I could go in to much more depth with this one but will leave it there for today…
Let me get on to the topic of vitamin and mineral supps now…
Like I said earlier, I believe that whole foods are the foundation of our health and supplements act as “insurance” for when nutrients are lacking in our foods or our immune system is lacking what it needs…
Over the years what I actually take and recommend has not changed… I won’t go in to the detail of these too much today. That will be another blog on it’s own with benefits of each vitamin… I believe quality over quantity wins every time. High quality to compliment your high quality nutritious food…
Here we go:
– Omega 3’s/Fish Oils/The good fat soluble vitamins (A, E, K, D)
– Vitamin C
Obviously this varies for individuals, as there may be other requirements based on ones own deficiencies. E.g I am iron deficient and have been all my life. I take a iron tablet to supplement my diet as I don’t absorb enough iron in my diet.
For now I am going to leave it there. I hope all of this has given you some insight and more understanding of supplements and how simply they can complement our already whole and balanced nutrition.
Keep it simple! We are all striving for a balanced and vitalised life, and I wholeheartedly believe we all have the potential to live that life!
I am always happy and available to answer questions! You can reach me via email or over on our Facebook page, anytime.