Sensitive topic. Probably the most popular question I am asked on a regular basis is whether or not people need supplements. I used to say, “No. Nobody needs supplements. As long as you eat a well balanced diet, you don’t need to add anything additional.” Now, I’m not so sure if that was true, and I wonder if it was even somewhat misleading.
The thing is, it is nearly impossible to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need on a daily basis from food alone. Whether it be lack of time, improper food selection, pure laziness, or lack of focus, most of us don’t come close to the dietary needs for nutrients that support a proper immune system, hormonal functioning, metabolic balance, tissue repair, etc.
So, I ask the question to myself, “Do I need supplements?” I have a diet better than 90% of the population, and it is built off of sound research, trial and error, and above all, practice. And still, I supplement with protein drinks, pre-workout supplements, energy drinks, multivitamins, fish oil, and a host of other things that allow me to perform at my best on a daily business and during my training sessions, while improving my recovery.
That being said, I’m going to ask a new question from now on. “Can you afford supplements?” For me, it really comes down to your financial situation. No longer will I tell people they “don’t need” supplements and look like a hypocrite while I down my pre-workout and smash a PR (Personal Record) in one of my lifting routines. As always, food is going to be primary source of nutrients, but for filling in the gaps, rounding out my nutrition, or even giving me that extra edge, I’m going to take supplements. Because the ones I take have been proven, and they work.
I’ve put together a list of supplements from Most to Least priority when it comes to supplementation taking into account price, availability, and effect:
- Multivitamin: To ensure your body gets all of the recommended intake of vitamins throughout the day. I take my multivitamin right before bed, because some have a tendency to bother my stomach, and I look at it as the finishing touch after a long day of eating properly.
- Vitamin D: The super vitamin, yet it is the one probably most lacking in multivitamin sources. Taken periodically throughout the day in amounts ranging from 1000-4000 IUs. Fairly cheap and inexpensive and has a world of benefits for your body that include;
- supports bone, teeth, hair, and skin health
- proper immune functioning
- Fish Oil: Aim for 2-3g Fish Oil per day. It does a range of great things for the body that include soft tissue health, heart health, metabolic and brain functioning.
- Protein: My standards for protein are very high. I feel greater than 80% of the population, even those consistent gym goers, lack a sufficient amount of protein in their diet. In my mind, through the research and experience I’ve had, Whey protein is second to none.
- Creatine and BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids): Once my clients show me they can maintain a fairly healthy and consistent diet, I’ll introduce them to creatine and BCAA’s to take their body and performance to the next level. This is mainly used for men and women who lack time to eat a well balanced meal before exercise, and/or who do not eat enough dietary protein from animal sources to get the recommended amount of BCAA’s and creatine daily.
Not only are all these supplements safe when taken properly with no adverse side effects, they have a consistent amount of research supporting their benefits in conjunction with proper nutritional habits and exercise. Hammering home good nutritional habits will always be my number 1 priority, but when it comes down to getting everything you need to improve your life and transform your body and health, I’ll never be afraid or ashamed to recommend supplementation.