If you believe the marketing then weight loss, abs and endless energy is just a pill or protein shake away. But the major problem with this is that a lot of supplements have not been scientifically proven and on top of this a lot them contain artificial sweeteners, colours, preservatives, chemicals and other nasty’s that could be harmful to your body and actually creating unwanted imbalances in your system.
We’d all like to think we could get everything our body needs from a well balanced diet, plenty of sleep and consistent workouts, eating a range of organic vegetables, fruits and protein sources, eggs, nuts, seeds and a small amount of dairy and super foods. But lets face it… most of us just don’t eat like this every day, especially when our busy schedules get in the way! With this being said some supplementation can be helpful to help ensure your getting what your body requires to function properly.
On average, active people need between 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, which means if you’re 60kg, a chicken breast of around 150-200g and a few eggs would have you meeting your quota each day.
A few facts on protein…
- It is a component of every cell in your body. In fact, hair and nails are mostly made of protein.
- Your body uses it to build and repair tissue.
- You need it to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
- It is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Like carbohydrates and fat, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that you need relatively large amounts of it to stay healthy. (Vitamins and minerals, which you only need in small quantities, are called “micronutrients.”)
A lean protein shake can be priceless as a snack, or brekky-on-the-go, especially for the time poor (aren’t we all?). Fermented rice proteins are great, as they’re kind to both digestion and skin. PranaOn and NutriOrganics make some pretty tasty options, or if you can tolerate a little dairy, there is a million on the market or you can pickup some Body Science protein here at the gym!
PRE & INTRA WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS
The main purpose of a pre-workout is to help give you that added boost of energy you need to do that extra rep of to lift that extra weight. Some athletes may benefit from supplementation but for most of us an antioxidant rich black coffee or green tea should do the trick. A lot of the supplementation out there contains green tea and/or coffee anyway.
There are few supplements that overall can help you with performance during training. Below are some we would suggest looking into.
A good quality Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) supplement can be good during periods of heavy training. BCAA’s are the “Building Blocks” of the body. They make up 35% of your muscle mass and must be present for molecular growth and development to take place. Eight are essential (cannot be manufactured by the body) the rest are non-essential (can be manufactured by the body with proper nutrition). Besides building cells and repairing tissue, they form antibodies, they are part of the enzyme & hormonal system; they build RNA and DNA and they carry oxygen throughout the body. We can get all the BCAA’s from a good diet also but like anything, as training increases, our bodies’requirement increases and taking them as a supplement can help us easily reach our increased needs.
Other supplements to mix in with your BCAA’s and consume prior or whilst training are as follows:
L-Carnitine… a natural amino acid that helps the body turn fat into energy by transporting fatty acids in to the blood stream to be used while working out. Carnitine occurs naturally in your diet, however in the case of competitive athletes and intense workout schedules, it may need to be supplemented to maintain fitness levels.
L-Glutamine. During intense training, glutamine levels are greatly depleted in your body, which decreases strength, stamina and recovery. It could take up to 6 days for glutamine levels to return to normal – and glutamine plays a key role in protein synthesis. Studies have shown that L-Glutamine supplementation can minimize breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism.
Creatine… another substance that occurs naturally by the body and is used to produce energy in the first few seconds of all out exercise. Supplementing with Creatine can help to boost this energy in explosive training such as sprints or heavy weight lifting. As a result it can increases muscle strength and size, enhance recovery, improve sprint performance and enhance brain function.
POST WORKOUT NUTRITION
Post-workout nutrition seems to be an area a lot of us ignore but it is so important! If you lifting heavy weights you’ll want a fast digesting protein and carb drink ready when you finish training. If you’re looking for fat loss then skip the drink and just pack a healthy meal ready to consume after your workout. Think protein and good quality starchy carbs like brown rice or sweet potato.
VITAMINS & MINERALS
Supplementing with vitamins and minerals is only beneficial if you’re lacking in them and the best way to find out is via a blood test (ask your doctor or natural health guru about this). The main supplements people tend to benefit from with regular consumption are Omega-3 fish oils, probiotics, B Vitamins (especially B12), Vitamin C and Magnesium. Zinc and Vitamin D are next on the shopping list if your blood tests show you’re low on them.
FAT LOSS SUPPLEMENTS
Pills and potions designed specifically to raise metabolism and shed weight can be dangerous and to tell you the truth they just aren’t miracle workers. If it was as easy as taking a pill to lose that unwanted fat long term wouldn’t we all do it?
Unless your eating is 100% perfect and your training is regular and effective there is absolutely no point in going down the road of trying fat / weight loss supplements. The only time you may see a small amount of fat loss as a result of a supplement is as a final boost to lose the last 1 or 2% of fat after a huge effort is first put in at the gym and in the kitchen. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news J
What may be useful for some people is a good quality fibre supplement to slow energy release, or magnesium/chromium supplements to control sugar cravings. Don’t self medicate though! Speak to a good trainer, doctor, or naturopath before you jump on the bandwagon of any whizz-bang new ‘weight loss holy grail’.