Nowadays, we are bombarded with information about products with claims that if ingested regularly, they can transform our bodies into majestic figures. We see it day in and day out from billboards to magazines or even walking down the aisle in our local supermarket. Let’s face it! The supplement industry has perfected the marketing game in order to get people to buy their products. We spend hundreds of dollars on products that we believe will give us an extra edge towards looking good naked without having proof that they actually work. So what is the verdict? Should you be taking supplements? Let’s dig into the facts and find out.
Can Supplements Help?
There are no doubts that some supplements can help in performance or aesthetics, however, they won’t be the primary reason why someone has seen results. Let’s use an example to help clarify this. We all know that anabolic steroids or EPO (blood doping) have been scientifically proven to enhance performance, hence that is why they are illegal in sport competitions. However, you couldn’t have an Arnold Schwarzenegger body or Lance Armstrong performance by simply taking banned substances and doing nothing else. These individuals still put in the gruelling work day in and day out to compete and win. What I am trying to say is that similar to performance enhancing drugs, supplements only add to your diet. They should never be your foundation and should only be used to “supplement” your diet or help prevent deficiencies. Therefore, don’t believe everything you see or hear in the media, as the chiselled model on the front page of the magazine has probably been preparing to do the photo shoot for months with an addition of photoshop magic.
Well technically speaking, you shouldn’t need supplements if you’re reaching macronutrient and micronutrient recommendations through whole foods. Therefore, I shouldn’t have to recommend any supplements. However, since many people don’t have proper nutritional habits, there may be a few supplements that can help them. Which one’s are they? Well that will all depend on the nutrient deficiency.
The first step in deciding which supplement one should take is to identify the area of the deficiency and using supplements to get back on track. The second step is to ensure there is an ample amount of reliable research which supports the health claims of these products. Lucky for you, I’ve done some research!
So what are my recommendations? Well, I’ve listed below three different supplements that are backed by scientific research, have been proven to be safe to use on a regular basis and will have the biggest bang for your buck regarding eliminating deficiencies. I’ve also ranked them in order of priority.
Since the majority of individuals rarely get enough vegetables and legumes in their diet, they often lack the proper balance of vitamins and minerals in their body. This deficiency can lead to many physiological problems leading to decrease in health and performance. Therefore, the first supplement I would recommend is a multivitamin. By simply adding a good quality multivitamin, people can often eliminate these deficiencies until they are able to reach their recommended vegetable intake. Again, remember that this should not replace any meals or give you the option to skip out on your veggies!
2. Fish Oils
I am going to sound like a broken record but since many people don’t include enough healthy fats in their diets, we often see deficiencies in this department. Not having enough good fats in one’s diet is like racing a car without oil in it, the engine will eventually burn out! This is where fish oils supplements can be a good idea. Taking in some fish oil will help balance out the deficiencies and lead you towards optimal health and performance. Once again, this does not mean that you can slack off on your healthy fat intake through whole foods. The addition of fish oil supplements is just leveling out the playing field!
3. Protein Powders
Protein supplementation isn’t really necessary as one should be getting enough protein through their whole food intake. However, since people are so “busy” nowadays, it seems that they don’t have time or forget to intake high quality protein. Therefore, using protein powders to supplement can be helpful as it is an easy and quick way to get your protein fix. This is especially helpful after an early morning workout when people are rushing out the door to go to work.
There are different types of protein powders. Some are animal based whereas others are plant based. Whey protein, which is a derivative of milk, has been one of the most popular types of protein powders as it contains all 9 essential amino acids and its quick digestive rate. However, because of lactose intolerances, some individuals may not handle whey protein very well. Pea protein and rice protein have been popular in the vegan based products and are just as effective. Please note that when choosing a protein powder, the ingredient list should be your top priority. Reading the ingredient list will ensure you aren’t intolerant to any of the ingredients which will translate into better results. No matter how reputable a brand is, it will be ineffective if you cannot digest what is in it. Your gut health is more important than the name on the bottle.
If you’re wondering what are good brands for different supplements, I’ve attached a few links below of third party websites who’ve tested and ranked some of the most popular brands found at local health stores. Find the supplement category you are looking for and check which ones rank the highest.
As for a personal preference, I’ve trusted the Poliquin Supplement brand . This supplement brand is not offered at general health and wellness stores as a certification is required in order to sell them. Therefore, the third party websites have not ranked them due to unavailability. These products have proven to be of very high quality and that is why we have decided to sell them at Pure. If you are looking to get your hands on this brand, stop by to get more information about them!
So there you have it! Hopefully this supplement summary will help you save money and help you realize that all your nutritional needs can be met with a balanced diet of whole foods rather than any man made product. Good nutrition does not come in a pill or powder!
Paul Bissonnette B. Kin, CEP, CSCS, FMSC, Pn1
- Baechle, T. R. ; Earle, R. W. & National Strength and Conditioning Association. (200). Essentials of strength training and conditioning (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
- Berardi, J., & Andrews, R. (2015). The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition Certification Manual (Second ed.). Precision Nutrition Inc.
- Berardi, J. (n.d.). The 3 supplements I recommend. Retrieved from Precision Nutrition: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/3-supplements-i-recommend
- Berardi, J. (n.d.). Supplement guide: which one to take, if any. Retrieved from Precision Nutrition: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/course-for-women-day-4-transcript
- McArdle, W., Katch, F., & Katch, V. (2010). Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance (7 ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Poliquin Group Editorial Staff. (2016, August 10). Top five supplements everyone should take. Retrieved from Poliquin Group: http://main.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/1500/Top_Five_Supplements_Everyone_Should_Take.aspx