There are many supplements available on the market today. Some are credible. Some work and do what they’re intended to do, but many have no evidence to back up their proposed efficacy, despite their claims.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop the industry growing year after year into a multi-billion pound industry. Over the years I have tried many. I’ve been happy to be a guinea pig and to be honest; it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t.
Many times, I’ve wanted to believe a certain product has worked and is helping me, but I have no real evidence to confirm that.
Over the years of working in the industry, I now only recommend a few key supplements and products that I believe to work, as suggested by the evidence and literature, as well as my own experience. The truth is, many people would get much better results from simply cleaning up their diet, addressing their sleep issues, and moving more.
In my opinion, that would radically change how most people operate in their day. Once the basics are covered, supplements enhance an already solid baseline level of exercise and diet habits and practices.
Here are my top 5 supplements you might consider using yourself:
1. Whey protein – All dairy (milk) products contain whey, one of the main proteins in dairy. During processing into a powder, the liquid milk is separated into solid curds (casein) and liquid (the whey). Whey protein is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs (i.e. can’t produce on its own and is thus needed from food sources) to continue protein synthesis aka: building muscle.
A common misconception about whey protein is that is contains special muscle building properties that make you sprout huge muscles. Whey protein is purely used to increase the amount of protein in an individual’s diet if they can’t obtain enough whole protein from their food. It’s sometimes easier to mix up a protein shake at your desk than to have a chicken breast in a container. It’s quick, convenient, and may be cost effective for many. I recommend a client use whey protein only if they struggle to get enough protein from food; not to use it instead of eating a proper meal.
2. Multi-vitamin and mineral complex – There are 13 essential vitamins and 16 essential minerals that we should be able to obtain from our diet. These are largely responsible for protection against nutritional deficiencies, improving energy and performance, and disease prevention. Athletes and people with a physically active lifestyle need more nutrients than the average non-active person to support muscle recovery and any fitness related goal. Strenuous exercise is also associated with oxidative stress and tissue damage, so athletes require a higher intake of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C and E.
The evidence is mixed when it comes to whether we need to supplement multi-vitamins. Some experts believe we can get all the nutrients we need from a “balanced diet”. Other experts believe that even with a balanced diet, levels of nutrients are far from adequate when it comes to optimal health.
The truth is, many people don’t even hit their RDA (recommended daily amount) levels. Several large-scale observational studies show that many people simply don’t achieve nutritional sufficiency through diet alone. This may be caused partly by declining soil quality, which means fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t as nutritious as they were 70 years ago. This coupled with the fact that chemicals in the air, food, and water provide an unprecedented toxic load that we are exposed to daily. For this reason alone, my foot is firmly in the camp of supplementation.
Composition and quality can vary from product to product so choose a high-quality brand that has been tested and guaranteed for potency. A quality brand will ensure that the nutrients will be provided in their most bioavailable form to enhance digestion and absorption.
3. Fish oil – One of the most popular supplements on the market today and widely researched. It has been shown to improve many of the risk factors of heart attacks, such as high cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides. Studies have shown that fish oil supplementation can prevent the onset, or improve the symptoms, of some mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar and prevent symptoms of mental decline. Fish oil has strong anti-inflammatory effects and can help reduce symptoms of inflammatory diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis. Your skin can become damaged by too much sun exposure or by natural ageing.
Fish oil may help maintain healthy skin and prevent skin disorders such as psoriasis and dermatitis. Supplementation in pregnant and breastfeeding women may improve both hand and eye coordination in infants, improve visual development, and help reduce the risk of allergies. The list goes on.
If you are not eating oily fish 2-3 times per week, you will probably benefit from supplementing with high quality fish oil.
4. Vitamin D – It’s sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s exposed to direct sunlight. As a vitamin and hormone, it stands alone amongst its peers and plays a pivotal role in cell metabolism, cardiac health, immune function, neurological support, and systemic inflammation, which is the process central to the onset of many chronic diseases.
Vitamin D may play a role in decreasing your risk of multiple sclerosis, decreasing your risk of heart disease, and reduce your likelihood of getting the flu. Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. Many factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through the sun alone, such as being in an area with high pollution like a city environment, using sunscreen, and having darker skin. People with darker skin have higher levels of melanin making it harder for the skin to absorb vitamin D. Only a few foods contain vitamin D naturally such as salmon, sardines, and egg yolks; while just 15-30 minutes of full-body exposure to sunlight is enough to provide all the vitamin D the body needs. However, it’s often difficult to obtain this even in sunny climates.
For this reason, many people are chronically deficient in vitamin D.
In my opinion, it is essential to supplement with a minimum of 2000-3000 IU of vitamin D per day.
5. Creatine – Creatine is found naturally in our diet when we consume meat and fish. The body also produces it internally, but it is excreted daily, which is why many people supplement it. Creatine is one of the most researched supplements and has produced many studies to prove its efficacy. It’s a natural supplement used to boost athletic performance. It’s not only safe; it’s one of the most popular supplements and most effective in building muscle and strength. It can increase your muscles’ phosphocreatine stores, which help with the formation of new ATP, the key molecule your cells use for energy, and all basic functions of life. It helps your cells produce more energy, which improves high intensity performance. It has also been shown to help with muscular endurance, muscle fatigue, recovery, and even brain performance.
3-5 grams taken daily has been proven to be the optimal dose for maximum athletic and cognitive benefits.
I hope this helps?
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