One of my subscribers requested a post about supplementation, so here it is 🙂
What supplements should I take?
Have you ever been to a whole food store, stood by the supplementation area and felt like you travelled to a different dimension? Hundreds of supplements around you, and you start wondering if you were supposed to be taking all of these things, as they all claim to be healthy for you. What are you missing on?
When I started working out, I would go to any supplement store – not really whole food based – and just ask the salesperson about what’s new, or what they think is good for me. I put my health in their hands, and wanted them to tell me what I should take. I understand that one needs some guidance, but once that guidance is given, we need to do our own research by reading the label, followed by a quick google search on your phone if you don’t recognize an ingredient, and then make the decision.
I learned to do this the hard way after I had a really bad acne reaction that took me almost a year to fully recover, after consuming a bottle of soy based protein. Since then I started doing my own research and most of the time, rely on food with minimum supplementation.What supplements should I take? This guide will help!
You can treat this post as an honest review, or a simple a guide to supplementation. There are thousands of supplements out there that won’t all fit in here, but I will cover the most common ones that you may think you need or that you do, in fact, need. I will keep it short, and summarized.
PS: At the end of this post, I included my best amazon picks. I only included the supplements I am using right now, and endorse 100%
PROTEIN POWDERS: I used to be a heavy protein powder user. I consumed loads of them until I had a bad acne reaction from a soy based protein. That was my wake up call to question the type of protein powder I take. Going with high quality protein powders is always a good idea if you don’t want to ruin your organs health in pursuit of bigger muscles.
Do you need them? If you workout with weights, or engage in high intensity exercise either early in the morning (fasted) or later in the day on an empty stomach, then you need a protein source (it can be in the form of supplement). If you are consuming a protein source with every meal, you are getting more than you need when it comes to protein. Your body stores amino acids and will use it during your workout.
Bottomline: Not essential if you eat enough protein from food sources. However, If you workout hard and don’t always have time to get a meal with protein after your workout, then a protein powder on the go would be beneficial.
GLUTAMINE: an amino acid, and you have lots of it. There are two kinds of amino acids; essential and nonessential. Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that your body makes it everyday. Unless you are dieting really hard for a fitness competition, you shouldn’t worry about supplementing with Glutamine.
I used to take glutamine when I first started working out, thinking it was going to make me build lean muscle fast. I stopped taking it after few months and I actually gained more lean muscle now than before. Now I rely on my hard work and healthy eating to give me the results I want.
Bottomline: Are you competing? Or part of a rigorous exercise and diet plan? If yes than you can get glutamine to help you with muscle soreness . A high quality glutamine is also required as there are many types that don’t work effectively.
BCAA (branched chain amino acids): I have mixed feelings for BCAA. I do take them once in a while. I don’t feel comfortable drinking a fluorescent liquid filled with artificial colorants and flavors to be honest. BCAA are amino acids that help build muscle. Most whey protein powders have BCAA in them also. So if you are consuming enough protein (through food and protein powder) you may not need BCAAs.
Bottomline: BCAAs may be beneficial as a preworkout if you don’t consume enough protein in your meals. They give a nice boost.
CREATINE: It is a combo of arginine, methionine and glycine (3 amino acids). Consuming creatine gives your muscle cells more energy (than normally in your body) to lift more, train harder and also last longer at the gym.
Do you need it? It depends on you. If your workouts are usually short and don’t include weights, you may not need it. If you are looking to add muscle mass, and last longer at the gym, then give it a try to monitor your progress.
Bottomline: Creatine works. If you need it.
GREEN TEA: Green tea gives you tons of benefits including weight loss. Matcha green tea in particular is known for its fat loss benefits as it is a great metabolism booster. If you are a high intensity interval training lover, you would benefit enormously from matcha tea as it helps with speed recovery. Green tea is an amazing detox for your body as well.
Bottomline: Increasing your green tea intakes can improve your health to the better.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR JOINT & GUT HEALTH
PROBIOTICS: If you have used antibiotics at some point of your life, then you need to supplement with a probiotic. They maintain gut health which has a huge impact on your overall health. You would not believe how many illnesses and diseases start from the gut (I’m talking serious autoimmune diseases, joint pain, arthritis, and allergies). To maintain a good balance of good bacteria in your gut, you need to be consuming probiotics.
Now, probiotics can be taken as real food – fermented vegetables, kefir, yogurt – or as a supplement, if you have been experiencing intestinal issues (Please consult with your physician first)
Bottomline: Anybody can benefit from probiotics.
FISH OIL (EPA +DHA): If you are not consuming lots of oily fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel, cod), then you probably need to supplement with fish oil (omega-3s fatty acids). Fish oil (omega-3s) is an amazing anti-inflammatory supplement. Here are some of the benefits of fish oil:
- Helps with depression
- Maintains bone health
- Helps with osteoporosis
- Prevents heart illness
- Blood sugar stabilizer (used to treat diabetes)
- Lowers risk of autoimmune disease
- Helps heal infections
Bottomline: you need to supplement with fish oil, or eat oily fish frequently.
COLLAGEN PROTEIN: I have been using collagen protein for few months now. I made the switch when I decided to significantly reduce my grain and conventional dairy intake (including vegan protein I used to take). Collagen is absolutely amazing for joint pain and any degeneration happening in the body. Collagen holds bones together.
Adding more collagen to your nutrition helps “oil” the joints to move smoothly, which reduced pain and inflammation. Collagen also helps with leaky gut syndrome (which causes a myriad of autoimmune disease and digestive issues).
Bottomline: Do you have joint pain, and intestinal issues? then you may need to switch to collagen protein. And yes, collagen will help you build muscle. It is a protein that is actually easier to absorb by your body.
BEET EXTRACT: First time I heard about beets extract, I was just walking at the whole food store shopping. A lady was giving away samples of them mixed with yogurt. It tasted so yummy I thought it was some kind of an ice cream. Turned out that it was beet crystals that you can mix with your smoothie, soup or yogurt. Beet is a super foods that helps tremendously with chronic inflammation
Bottomline: beet is an essential food. I would encourage you to add this supplement to your nutrition if you are not consuming enough beets, especially if you experience inflammation, and poor health.- just thought of a Borscht recipe post 😉
TURMERIC: Turmeric has been an addition to my smoothies and almost everything else (soups, stews, tea). Turmeric helps tremendously with inflammation and joint pain. You can get my 9 anti-inflammatory smoothie recipes below.
GINGER: There are many ginger supplements out there, but I personally like to add sliced fresh ginger to my food. Ginger helps with a lot of digestive issues and also joint pain.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR OVERALL HEALTH
VITAMIN C: vitamin C works amazingly with Collagen supplementation, or simply to produce collagen. This of course promotes skin, joints and muscle health.
Vitamin C is a great supplement. However, you should also be eating foods that are rich in Vitamin C such as Kiwis, Guava, Green peppers and oranges. A simple google search will give you a list of all the foods that are rich in Vitamin C.
I believe that supplementation should always be used to supplement and not to replace.
ADRENAL SUPPORT: If you have a stressful life, workout hard and often, and you don’t sleep enough, chances are you are likely to suffer from adrenal fatigue. There is a great book I got about this topic I encourage you to checkout; Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. If you do find yourself always exhausted, and not sleeping well you should get yourself checked out for adrenal fatigue and look at supplementing with this supplement.
ASHWAGANDHA: a herb that has great benefits lowering your cortisol (stress hormone) levels and balance your thyroid. There have been numerous studies showing the benefits of Ashwagandha on the brain, the mood as well as its positive endurance boosting effects. Ashwagandha can be a great supplement to take if you have a busy active (stressful) lifestyle.
There you have it, my mini guide to supplementations 🙂 Remember that a healthy nutrition comes first, and supplementations comes second – as you need it –
Disclaimer: Please consult with your physician before starting a supplement protocol. It’s always good to have them monitor your progress. This post is just a general review of the most common supplements and does not substitute medical advice.