With fitness and health gaining popularity in the last years, there are many companies who surfaced with new information, diets, and products that are aimed at people looking to improve their health, body and mind. With all these fancy products coming out, it’s easy to be tempted to dive face first in some of those fad diets and supplements. These aesthetically pleasing supplements look good to the eye, and the marketing around it is phenomenal, but are they really 100% necessary in your fitness journey?
Working out, eating right, patience, and consistency is what brings results.
The formula to success in fitness is very simple. Supplements are there to complement your healthy lifestyle; they are not there to act as a magic pill to bring you automatic results. It’s very important to remember that. It doesn’t matter how many bottles of supplements look good on the shelf, or what the store clerk tells you about it shedding your fat in 15 days of less: supplements are not magic pills. Understanding this will save you hundreds of dollars, as you’ll know what is necessary for your body and goals and what is not.
Supplements are not mandatory. They should be used as a complement to your healthy lifestyle, to supplement for things you’re unable to get through nutrition alone. That being said, there are 3 supplements we believe everyone should have in their home, simply because it’s harder in today’s hectic routines, to hit all your micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) goals. Some supplements are also there to help cognitive functioning, which is also a necessary aid in today’s day and age, where our brains are always ON. Other supplements are simply there to help you reach one of your most important macronutrient in fitness.
Here are the 3 supplements we believe are needed in everyone’s household: protein powder, greens, fish oil.
As an athlete, you’ll need enough protein to promote healthy long-term growth, in lean mass and strength. Research shows that 1.2g to 1.8g per kilogram of bodyweight is the optimal ratio of protein intake for athlete training in cardiovascular endurance and/or strength. To calculate your weight from pounds to kilogram, simply divide your weight in LBS by 2.2. Following the calculations above, this means that a 200lbs athlete should be consuming between 110g to 162g of protein per day. A hundred-plus grams of protein per day can be overwhelming for most, therefore it can be hard to hit those numbers at the end of the day strictly from whole foods. Here is where a protein supplement becomes a lifesaver.
When it comes to protein powders, you’re going to come across a few different options at the supplement store. The one we recommend, depending on your preferences and intolerances, is one of the following:
It contains all the essential amino acids and comes in both “concentrate” and “isolate” forms. It is more quickly absorbed by the body compared to most other forms, which makes it an excellent supplement for those wanting a quick digesting source of protein for breakfast or after training.
- Whey protein isolate: this is an isolated form of whey protein powder that is quickly digested and has lower sugar and fat content compared to its sister whey protein. This protein powder is often recommended for those looking for weight loss as it contains less calories than the whey protein concentrate version.
- Whey protein concentrate: is a cheaper and more popular type of whey protein powder. It usually contains around 80% protein, a small amount of fat, and some carbs. It is often recommended for those looking for weight gain. It is also a very budget-friendly option for those who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on protein powders.
* For those of you looking for vegan options, there is such a thing as plant based protein powder. It is important however to note that whey is a complete source of amino acids whereas plant-based isn’t.
Greens are all your micronutrient needs in a scoop: vegetables, fruits, algae, grasses and sometimes even rare nuts and superfoods all compacted and distilled into a powdered form. They are packed with nutrient dense foods like wheat grass, chlorella, herbs, sea vegetables, spirulina, barley grass, etc. Not to mention that the best powdered greens contain vitamins, minerals, fibers, phytonutrients and even omega 3 fatty acids!
Why are they important?
We all know that fruits and vegetables are extremely important in one’s diet, especially when you’re looking to make a healthier lifestyle change. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the time or appetite to eat enough fruits and vegetables to hit our daily micronutrient recommendations. Supplementation with greens can not only benefit you with more energy and recovery, but it can also help to keep your body working at optimal level and help to minimize health issues over time. Greens are also very alkaline and can help to balance and metabolize proteins, carbs, and dietary fatty acids.
If you consume on a daily at least 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day, supplementing with greens won’t be necessary. If you aren’t, you’ll definitely need to add this to your every day staple.
Fish oil comes from fish (big shocker there, right), but more specifically, from fish that is high in omega-3s. This includes salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, mahi mahi, etc. You can get your fish oil from the food itself, yes, but the supplement oil has a little something extra that is what makes the whole different in cognitive function, inflammation, and recovery. The two important ingredients in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
EPA and DHA help regulate many things such as inflammation in the body and organs by lubricating the inflamed cells in the body, thus reducing its effect. It can also help brain function by improving concentration, as well as improve cardiovascular health through lubricating the arteries and prompting a healthy cardiovascular system. Not to mention that it’s also great for a healthy skin.
All in all, proper nutrition, training and consistency are what’s most important to get results. Supplements are there to help you reach your health goals when life gets a bit too hectic, and you can’t hit your protein or micronutrient goals. If you feel like you could use a little extra help in the cognitive area, especially during finals or stressful times at the office, fish oil will be a great supplement to add to your list. Before starting any supplements, please make sure you discuss with your health practitioner and/or personal trainer for recommended dosage and needs.