IS IT TIME FOR YOU TO START TAKING SUPPLEMENTS?

You’ve got the clothes, the shoes-you’ve finally got your workout schedule down. You are ready and committed. The only thing left to do? Buy all those supplements your favorite insta-fit girl takes! The pills! The powders! The teas! Right?! Well...not exactly.

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For the past two decades the supplement industry has blown up, and along the way paid a lot of celebrities and fitness “gurus” to preach their word and help sell the product they would like you to believe is the missing ingredient to your fitness and healthy lifestyle cocktail.

It’s hard not to have questions. It’s hard not to be at least a little curious about a pill that promises it will help you burn fat five times faster, a powder that will allow you to workout five times harder with laser like focus.

But is it for real? Is it worth buying?

This is something I get asked about a lot and feel I never have the best answer to. And that is because it can be a tricky subject. While not all supplementation is completely useless-some are, and most are just completely overhyped. Supplement companies want you to believe that their product is the magic key to the kingdom of health, fitness, strength, recovery, and abs.They are not.

SUPPLEMENTS ARE SUPPLEMENTARY. If taken they provide the EXTRA support for your already healthy lifestyle. If you eat poorly, don’t exercise and get only a few hours of sleep a night, then all the supplements in the world can’t help you. They are extra. Not the foundation.

There are literally hundreds of supplements out there, but before we get into the most common supplements I get asked about and see people taking, I want to make sure that you understand one very important thing-SUPPLEMENTS ARE SUPPLEMENTARY. If taken they provide the EXTRA support for your already healthy lifestyle. If you eat poorly, don’t exercise and get only a few hours of sleep a night, then all the supplements in the world can’t help you. They are extra. Not the foundation. And more-so, they are expensive. So what to do??

Let us dive in!

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Fat Burners:

What they claim to do:

A big one in the instagram and bodybuilding world, fat burners claim to put your body into a thermogenic state-causing your body to produce extra heat and thus burn more energy (calories), along with increasing your fat metabolism, impair bodies ability to store fat, etc.

How much do they cost?

$30-$70

Is it worth it?

Will it actually make your burn fat 5 times faster? No. Could it have any effect on your fat loss? Maybe. But not alone, and not in a way that is unique to them. Fat burners “work” because they contain stimulants like caffeine, synephrine, yohimbe and an army of other choices, that more than anything will curb your appetite and boost your energy. Sound kind of like a expensive cup of coffee in pill form? Yeah I think so too.

So is it worth it?

In my opinion? No. I find them to be too expensive for their bogus claims and not maintainable in the long term. Fat burners have been shown to push the weightloss envelope about 5%, but do you want to pop pills, spend that kind money, and make those trips to GNC for the rest of your life?

So what you can do instead?

-A viable fat burner would be able to do three things: Increase your metabolic rate, reduce your hunger and cravings, and increase your feelings of satiety. So how do we do these things?

-Build muscle-muscle mass is your bodies best fat burner. More muscle tissue means more calories burned even when at rest.

-Add some HIIT- high intensity interval training. HIIT is effective as a fat burner because it produces excess post oxygen consumption, which has been shown to increase your resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours.

-Make your overall experience with dieting and eating healthy more enjoyable. The hard one. Cravings happen, overeating happens, but if you can find healthy recipes you enjoy eating and leave you feeling full and satisfied, you won’t feel like you are punishing yourself every time you bring a fork to your mouth.


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BCAAS.

Have you ever seen someone walking around your gym with a big bottle of pink liquid? Chances are they have some branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs in there.

What they claim to do:

like most supplements-the label of this powder will have you questioning why you haven’t been investing in this product since day 1!  BCAAs usually claim to improve immune function, reduce muscle fatigue, reduce levels of exercise induced muscle damage, and increase levels of post exercise muscle growth.

How much do they cost?

$20-$40

Is it worth it?

Again...eh. It depends.

-If you are someone who has a hard time getting an adequate amount of protein in on a daily basis, BCAAs may (i repeat MAY) help negate a small bit of muscle damage and loss. But should never, and could not, replace your goal of getting in a healthy amount of protein through real and actual whole foods.

-There has also been research to show that if you are training in a fasted state (where your muscle breakdown will be dramatically increased) sipping on some BCAAs while you train may decrease this muscle breakdown.

-They are pretty tasty. If it helps you to get your hydration on-then go for it. Who am I to tell you not to spend $30/month on some tasty pink powder if it fits easily into your budget. There is nothing evil or damaging about BCAAs in the same way there is nothing magical and amazing about them.

 

So what can you do instead?

Amino Acids are basically the building blocks of protein and muscle. There are 22 different amino acids-9 of them considered “essential”-meaning our bodies cannot produce them on their own, we must ingest them through outside protein sources.

BCAA powders contain 3 of the 9 essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) but in order to prevent muscle loss, damage, and increase muscle growth you need all 9. But here is some great news! You can still get all 9 by eating REAL FOOD.

Foods like meat, fish, eggs, rice protein, pea protein, spirulina, will all provide you with all the BCAAs you need. Here is a source to learn more!

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Pre Workout:

What it claims to do:

Usually coming in powdered form, pre-workout promises to basically turn you into a superhero for an hour or two Non stop energy for the best workout ever.

How much does it cost?:

$20-$60

Is it worth it?:

Caffeine is a useful and powerful pre-workout stimulant. It can absolutely increase your muscle endurance and strength, and get you into a zone where you can actually enjoy and complete your workout instead of dragging your ass through.

The shady thing about pre-workout is that most times it contains 2-4x the amount of caffeine a cup of coffee has, along with other stimulants and fillers that are unnatural and may leave your body feeling tingly, nauseous, and god forbid you take it too late at night-struggling to fall asleep. I have had plenty a bad experience with a pre-workout that was far more intense than expected or prepared for, sending my heart rate through the roof, making me nervous and unable to focus.

If your body is already sensitive to caffeine pre-workout may be too intense for you. Alternatively, if your body is acclimated to caffeine, and coffee no longer gives you the boost it used to, finding a quality pre-workout may serve you and your workouts.

What can you do instead?

-I always recommend trying to find the most natural source first. And in this case-that is coffee! Get in a cup of coffee or shot of espresso 30 minutes before your workout.

-If you hate coffee, or truly feel you need a bigger boost, go with a pre-workout that isn’t filled with stimulants and fillers.

-Here & here are some I can recommend:

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Protein Powder

We have all heard it...if you workout, you need to take a protein powder. Step 1 must lead to step 2. Protein is everywhere and everyone is very concerned with getting enough. I mean, Starbucks even carries a protein drink now, Cheerios brag about their protein count per bowl. It is a question that is on the tip of every one of my clients tongues.

What it claims to do:

Protein plays a vital role in your bodies ability to recover, build muscle, maintain a healthy immune system, a healthy brain, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Protein powder is one of many ways you can get protein into your diet.

How much does it cost:

$40-$60

Is it worth it?

-Whether you are training or not, protein is an essential part of your daily diet and getting enough should be prioritized.

-BUT protein is bigger than protein powders. If you spend your time worrying about when and where you will fit a protein shake into your day, or carrying around your big tub of protein everywhere you go, rest assured that this is not the only way to get your gainzz.

-1-1.5g of protein per body weight is the typical recommendation. And nowhere within this does it say that protein powders must be the source of the protein. In fact, if you are a regular meat and egg consumer, you are probably hitting your protein goal pretty easily without even having to think about it, and do not need to have your chicken with a side of chocolate protein.

-Alternatively, if you are a vegan, you may be getting in far less protein than you think, and therefore would benefit from a reliable protein.

What can you do instead?

-For one day, track your protein intake. Where does it lay?

-Would you benefit from eating foods that are higher in protein? Or buying a powder to supplement your intake?

-If so here is a list of foods that are high in protein, including some vegetarian and vegan options

-Here are some of the best options for protein powders:

-Whey
-
Vegan
-
Collagen


The moral of the supplement story is this. Supplements are expensive, tedious, sometimes confusing, and depending on the quality of the product-possibly filled with crap. When it comes to the popular supplements talked about today-there is always a more natural, and with that, cheaper, way to get the things promised from them. Ultimately it’s up to you, but do your research, pay attention to the way it makes you feel, and always see if you can’t do it the more natural, whole food way!