In brief (let’s face it there’s a lot to say here….)
Ok so everyone has a view on supplements; what to take, when to take, why to take, who should take etc. etc. In general, it is a really stressful exercise to try and figure out what you need and also quantities to take because the opinions are so varied and exist in the thousands…you think you are doing right listening to one person and then all of a sudden you ask someone else and they think you are doing it all wrong….this gets even more confusing if you are an athlete, a body builder, a powerlifter, a working class Joe Bloggs trying to get fit, an obese person trying to lose weight, a skinny person trying to gain muscle mass……wow my brain is fried already…..
My opinion? Fix the diet, then look for supplements. Supplements are an addition and not a replacement.….they are not the be all and end all and taking supplements alone will most certainly not turn you into a beautiful curvy woman with a flat toned stomach or a ripped man resembling the gladiators in 300……if it were that easy sure we d all be stunners parading the streets like there’s no tomorrow.
Let me explain: NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING will replace the nutrients you can get from natural food. Taking a protein shake will never be as good as eating chicken or meat or fish or whatever as a protein source. Sure it may taste better (peanut butter, choco mocha brownie, strawberry cheesecake,….) but it will also come with an added bucket of sugar (and believe me it’s there….companies have great skill at hiding sugar on the label).
In addition, the results you will see will disappear just as fast as they occur……take the example of someone taking creatine….more than likely they will take more than the recommended dose (you know who you are!!) to speed up results….your body will store this and inflame your muscles which will look like growth but this will also mainly be aesthetic (talk the talk but cant walk the walk) and the minute you stop taking the stuff, your body will empty out and you will lose all that hard work at quite a rapid rate….but hey if you got the moneysssss, be my guest……
Diet always comes first…..the 80/20 rule is no word of a lie….in fact it’s more of a 90/10 rule…..or 99/1 rule…..it’s all about DIET! Fitness helps build endurance, speed, heart health etc but trying to justify a pizza by spending an hour on the bike just doesnt work…..What kind of diet you say!?! Well hows about a diet where you never have to count a calorie again? Where you can eat loads of food? in fact you have to eat loads of food! A diet that will replenish your body and make it into a machine! Where weight loss is just a given as an optimal body goes hand in hand with optimal body composition…..i.e. eat this way and your body will just find its optimal weight, let go of the rest…..adding even minimal activity (walking, lifting heavy things, playing, jumping, enjoying life) will get you toned and heck if you re a gym junkie, you can only imagine the possibilities…..well folks it’s called the Paleo Diet….and it’s not a diet at all….this really does deserve a post on it’s own but heres the basics:
EAT REAL FOOD IN COPIOUS AMOUNTS
EAT FAT, PROTEIN, FRUIT AND VEGETABLES UNTIL FULL (1 plate….2 plates…..)
Dramatic? Well I don’t really care what you do…..keep singing your tune and devouring the bad stuff….as well as the apparent ‘good’ stuff…..i don’t know what planet you live on if you think a low-fat muffin is good for you….it’s a repackaged cake…enough said…..what about wheetabix!?! It’s low GI!!!…..ye whatever, you may aswell have the box it came in also, it is probably less processed and has less additives than the cereal itself….which by the way is pure sugar…..
Processed carbohydrates in every shape and size are made up of polysaccharides or for those of you who did not do biology in school ‘many’ (poly) ‘sugars’ (saccharides)…….do you really think it’s a good idea to eat a high carb diet for optimal health….yes eat a high sugar diet?!?!
I m going to take a breath, a sup of water and a bite of my apple and shut up now…….to be continued….now back to supplements
My List of must-haves:
- Fish Oil
- Vitamin D3
There is pretty much a supplement for everything these days…..from protein to fibre to a concoction of greens for those of you who hate vegetables or whatever….and half the stuff is just not necessary….if you are eating proper food, your body will thank you for this and you will get your nutrients…..supplements are not magic pills….they replace what you are lacking and you should only ever have the important stuff…..
Fair enough, eating buckets of food is expensive so for some it is easier to buy protein but be wary of the high sugar that comes with it. Also I am talking from the point of view of an athlete who wants to look good but is mainly concerned with strength and fitness gains. I cannot speak for the bodybuilding world….that’s a different story….but all I know is that I took protein for a number of years….and my dose slowly increased and before I knew it I was having 2-3 shakes a day as my ‘sweet treat’….and loading my body full of sugar like this didn’t get me anywhere….in fact I made better gains when I removed the shakes and ate the same amount of protein in its pure form. Yup get snacking on them chicken breasts!
However having said that we have to remember that we live in a world where food is not the same quality as it was due to mass production and money saving methods- you are not eating the same food your grandparents or even your parents ate. Today, chemicals sprayed on fruit and vegetables remove key minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc…..animals are fed bad diets to fatten them up and thus get more meat out of them……and in general our poor diet habits means we are missing out on key nutrients. You don’t have to be starved to be malnourished. In fact, 50% of Americans are malnourished due to their poor diet habits…that means they have not been able to give their bodies certain minerals or vitamins in adequate amounts for years and years in many cases……and no you wont die but it does put you at risk…..it prevents your body from functioning optimally…it can affect your digestion, your immune response, your athletic performance and you don’t even realise….No you don’t need to supplement protein but things like zinc, magnesium, Vitamin D3 are nearly impossible to get from diet alone in the right amounts so I do think there a few core things everyone should take…..
My second reason: 60-80% of immune cells are in the gut….50% of all neurotransmitters are in the gut,as much as 95%of all serotonin (happy hormone) is in the gut- unhealthy gut ecology can lead to inflammatory signals to entire body…optimal amounts of good bacteria supports optimal cell signalling throughout body. Consequence of too much bad bacteria? leaky gut and inflammation, poor absorption of nutrients from food which are vital for insulin management and fat burning. Your immune function is compromised…..muscle becomes fuel source during illness….leaky gut allows pathogens, toxins, viruses, bacteria to cross the gut wall putting you at risk of getting ill….every cell in the body has a receptor site for Omega 3 (fish oil), thyroid and Vitamin D3- this alone tells us that these three thing affect absolutely everything in our bodies and are necessary for optimal function. However, in UK and Ire especially the lack of sun means 99% of the population are deficient….more than 50% of world population is deficient-low levels are associated with virtually every disease including blood sugar dysregulation, type 1 and 2 diabetes and obesity. Vitamin D supports immune function, neurologic health, blood sugar regulation, fat burning and muscle function. Magnesium is the mineral of insulin sensitivity…conquer insulin and conquer fat loss too…..The paleolithic man ate on average 400grams of omega 3 per week…the modern man gets just 20grams on average…..in addition we also stuff ourselves full of omega 6…the bad stuff….ideally our body ratio of omega 3:6 should be 1:1 if we take the caveman as our example….. both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, that are the primary causes of death and morbidity today…..nuf said…..
Getting tested: You can get tested for deficiencies and I would in fact recommend it so you have a benchmark to work off but not everyone has the money and certain things are very hard to test for…. but remember that the NORMS which doctors refer to are not good markers: norms stand for ‘it happens a lot’. As Charles Poliquin refers to it ‘normal blood work resembles Homer Simpson’- he would fit in the norms categories but does he look healthy? You want to focus on optimal levels and that is a different story. Again I have my own opinions on optimal levels as do other people. But for example take Vitamin D3: A good level to have is 80ng/dl-120ng/dl…….however the average Irish/UK person will be 14ng/dl…….not good…..
Quality of supplements: Last I must warn that you should be careful and don’t believe everything you see on the box/the shop assistant tells you…..a lot of these companies are out to get money and are first and foremost concerned with selling a product. Do your research.
So in sum I believe in supplementing the important stuff….the minerals and vitamins we lack. The rest I would avoid…..but that’s my opinion…..I don’t judge….and I am open minded so feel free to argue back….
If you want some more help with this get in touch ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’
From my travels last week…..
Some ideas for eats at the airport….fruit is an obvious choice….it’s actually quite tough to find something nice! Boots was closed and that’s usually my go to….
prawns and smoke salmon salad
coffee always a must
poached eggs, bacon and tomato…..
Was going to have fruit salad but guess what the ingredients told me…..various fruit….sugar syrup……no thanks…i like my fruit fresh…not with added sweetener (also obviously to help preserve the fruit) so PASS
AND TAAADDDAAA MY CERTIFICATE!Last but not least, here is a really really good body weight workout if you don’t have time to make the gym. i have been a Zuzka fan for years now….she used to host the site body rock.tv which I cannot thank enough for changing my perspective on fitness….i used to follow the site religiously when I lived in Paris and it really was my ‘ta-daaa’ moment….it all finally made sense….and given I was a student living in a tiny box room and without much time on my hands, her 10-15 minute interval body-weight WODS were perfect for me…..