I’ll admit that I had a lot of supplements and different vitamin isolates on my kitchen counter. I was young, naive, and misinformed, if you will, thinking that it would make up for my lack of nutrition. Man I sure do miss Jack in the Box and Taco Bell! These days my approach to “healthy living” is eating whole foods for that is the best way to get the nutrients in, so I’m not too fond of taking a plethora of supplements. Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or even run a 10k, you have to be on board with your nutrition first, prior to taking any supplements because that is what they are—they SUPPLEMENT your diet. However, no matter how good you eat some supplements are actually worth taking and they’re there to help fill in those gaps.
1. Fish oil
This is an absolute must in my book! We should already know by now that fish oil has tremendous health benefits, but the one that stands out is its effect inside the body with regard to anti-inflammation. To steal a phrase from holistic nutritionist and health coach Yuri Elkaim, “we have an overly inflamed lifestyle.” I think that stands true because aside from poor dietary choices, our lifestyle in general wreaks havoc in our body and it produces a pro-inflammatory response. This in turn will lay the foundation for degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and dementia; just to name a few. When you factor in poor dietary choices, a stressful day at work, and lack of sleep, the mileage will add up. If someone wanted to build muscle or lose weight, that individual is going to have a difficult time because inflammation is going to impede his/her recovery.
So what exactly causes inflammation? The consumption of foods high in omega-6 fatty acids is the root cause of systemic inflammation. In other words, you’re straight up eating garbage. Genetically modified oils such as vegetable oil and canola oil are predominately omega-6 fatty acid based—the cause of inflammation. On the other end of the spectrum is fish oil and it is one of the best sources for omega-3 fatty acid, which is highly anti-inflammatory. Seeing the bigger picture here now, right? My personal preference is Norwegian Cod Liver Oil by Carlson.
I’ve spoken about the benefits of probiotics on several occasions, for good reason. Muscles won’t work if your digestive system is whack. If it’s not functioning properly then building muscle or getting lean is going to be the last thing your body wants to do. Moreover, an unhealthy gut results in a weakened immune system. Remember: your digestive system has to be able to digest, metabolize, and eliminate the foods that you eat. The live and active cultures (good bacteria) in a probiotic supplement aids in the maintenance of a healthy gut, so you actually absorb most of the nutrients in the foods you eat.
3. Whey Protein
You guys saw this one coming. This was a given. Protein helps build the muscle and more importantly, helps repair the tissue breakdown that occurs during physical activity such as lifting heavy weights. The biggest thing for me about the consumption of protein shakes is its convenience. I start the day training clients at 5am and eating a proper meal for breakfast is time consuming. Despite the obscure views that women may have about sipping on protein shakes, they can actually benefit from it because I’ve found that most women don’t get nearly enough protein as much they should. The only caveat about protein powders is the quality. It’s important to take into consideration the quality of what you’re consuming because most protein powders just have too many ingredients for my liking. Actually there is another caveat…PROTEIN FARTS!
If you’re eating enough nutrient-dense foods, then you don’t have to worry about this one.
Remember that you can’t out-supplement your way out of a poor diet. If becoming a better you is what you really want, then put in the work and stop wishing for it.