“Coach, which supplements do you take? And what do I need to be taking?”
Good question, and an important one to ask of the right person if you want to see progress and save yourself from throwing away tons of money. If you didn’t know already, supplements are BIG business. The vitamin and supplement industry in the U.S. brought in almost 31 Billion dollars of revenue last year alone. Unfortunately this industry faces little to no regulations, and many companies make claims they simply can’t back up. Some even go so far as to sell you unhealthy “fillers” that are completely different from the product listed on the label.
Hopefully this article will help you cut through the bullshit. My intention is to help direct you to supplements that will address needs that all of us have. This list is neither exhaustive nor individualized; you probably have a need that is not listed here, but these are safe bets for most and a good foundation to start with.
We should only take supplements to enhance our daily diet. These products are NOT intended to be your main source of nutrients. If you need some simple guidance on healthy eating check my post here.
However these are a few common areas my athletes typically need an extra boost; shoring up these deficiencies can help you take your health to the next level.
Many of us simply do not eat enough protein to support muscle growth. Studies show that 0.6-0.9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight will allow you to gain and maintain muscle while on a consistent exercise program. Track your protein intake for a full week to see where you’re at so you can determine how many grams short you are.
Once you’ve determined the amount you need its time to choose a source. If you tolerate milk proteins well whey is an affordable and effective source. Whey protein Isolate is the purest form available, and make sure there are little to no fillers or sugars; keep the ingredient list as short as possible. ON Gold Standard Whey is a great example.
If you’re as sensitive to milk proteins as I am (I’ve learned I can either consume whey or have meaningful relationships, not both) then I suggest you use egg white powder or hemp protein. The bioavailability (ability your body has to use it) for both are extremely high and both are complete proteins.
Quick note* I’ve seen a lot of folks recently with a collagen peptide obsession. Collagen is great but it lacks the appropriate amino acid profile to build muscle, so make sure you’re not using it as your primary source of protein post-workout. This also rings true for most plant proteins, so ensure that you are supplementing with a “complete protein” (contains all essential amino acids) Examples- Animal Meats, Milk Products, Eggs, Quinoa, Hemp)
Once you’ve chosen your protein simply mix it with water and enjoy 25-35g within 30 minutes of completing your workout.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for fighting inflammation, heart disease, and mental health disorders. They are mostly found in fish and seafood so it’s easy to see why most Americans aren’t getting enough in their diet. If you are consuming fish less than three times a week then you should supplement with quality Omega 3’s. Ensure that your supplement has both EPA and DHA in it, and shoot for a source from smaller fish or seafoods(anchovies/sardines/krill), as they have less time to accumulate toxins like mercury.
Creatine is a natural nutrient found in animal foods, and is an essential aid in strength and muscular development. Stick with creatine monohydrate and keep levels consistent at 5g/day. Take it before or after exercise by mixing it with water or a protein shake. Taking more than 5g may cause bloating and or diarrhea due to extra water retention.
Are you eating 7-9 servings of a variety of vegetables a day? Me neither, though I try my best it is time consuming and expensive to eat the array of veggies we need to fulfill or antioxidant and micronutrient needs. Enter Chlorella and Spirulina. These ultra dense superfoods pack an unmatched nutritional punch. They ensure a healthy alkaline balance, fighting the heavily acidic diet most of us westerners have. Both are also rich in essential amino acids and easily digestible protein(needs mentioned above)
Lastly, Chlorella and Spirulina are packed with vitamin B-12 a nutrient only found in foods(your body doesn’t make it) that is needed to make red blood cells and DNA. These superfoods can be found as a pair, by themselves, or in convenient drink mixes with other vitamins like this option from Trader Joe’s I’ve been taking.
WHAT ABOUT PRE-WORKOUT?
This is an inevitable question working in this industry. “Pre-workout” supplements are caffeinated powders that are often expensive, highly stimulatory, and loaded with fillers and dye’s that I frankly don’t want to pay for or consume 5-6 days a week. If you struggle to get out the door for your workout and need an extra boost keep it simple and have a coffee or caffeine pill 20-30 minutes before exercising. It’s effective, safe and easier on your wallet.
-Ensure you’re getting enough protein(0.6-0.9g/lb bodyweight); if not supplement w/whey/egg whites/hemp
-Take an Omega 3 supplement with DHA and EPA to keep your heart, head and skin healthy.
-If weight training take 5g of creatine a day to help build muscle and increase strength.
-Take chlorella/spirulina to ensure you get your micronutrients/antioxidants.
Don’t hesitate to comment below with any questions or reach me through the contact page through the link above.