Supplementation is a controversial topic amongst many. People tend to be divided on the benefits of supplementing. There is much confusion when it comes to taking these products. What needs to be remembered is the word itself. It is rather self explanatory. The definition of supplement is “a thing added to something else, in order to complete or enhance it”.
So relevant to fitness, this would translate to “a dietary supplement should only be added to your diet to enhance your fitness results. It should not replace meals”. This is the common misconception that takes over the minds of fitness enthusiasts. They want to achieve optimal results for the work that they are putting in, so it is understandable.
Most of the time it is just bad advice from people that do not belong in the fitness profession. The “average Joe”, turns to fitness professionals for in-depth quality advice regarding supplements but, in my experience, it is these “fitness professionals” that do not educate their public on the true meaning of supplement.
Well, that’s’ exactly why I am writing this article. My aim is to ensure that you go away from here today with a sound knowledge of what supplementation is and the right supplement for you. I will share my experience of supplements, whilst also sharing my supplement regime. Many of us need a guide to supplements, to ensure we are consuming what is right for us.
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Supplements We All Need
Training at home has an endless list of advantages, from no queuing for machines to not forgetting your protein shake at home. Of course, going to the gym is great in so many ways but training at home means you have to concentrate on less, which in turn leads to fewer things to remember and a better workout. How many of us have got up on gym day, got our gym bag ready, drove to the gym and then realised the towel and the shake are missing! We’ve all done that.
The following supplements help our bodies to recover from training and are some of the best on the market. Adding these to your healthy lifestyle will make a difference to your overall wellbeing.
As many of you know, getting the correct ratio of protein and carbohydrates into your body after training is vital. It is even more vital to get these nutrients into your body within 45 minutes of your training sessions, as the body is crying out for nutrients to help it repair, after your grueling workout.
We all need to ensure we are consuming an adequate amount of protein. This can all seem a bit confusing, especially if you add exercising into the mix. To make it easier for you, I have broken it down below:
- Men – No training – 1g of protein per kg of weight (70kg male would require 70g of protein per day)
- Men – training – 1.5/2g or protein per kg of weight (70kg male would require 105/140g of protein per day)
- Women – No training – 0.8g of protein per kg of weight (60kg female would require 48g of protein per day)
- Women – training – 1.5g of protein per kg of weight (60kg female would require 90g of protein per day)
As mentioned above, the whole process can get a little confusing, but if you stick to the above as a general rule of thumb, then you are on the right track.
EFA’s – Omega 3
This is literally a life saver. Unless you have been hiding under a rock your whole life, you would have heard of Omega 3. It is not naturally produced by the body but has a range of health benefits. Consuming Omega 3 has the following advantages:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce tryglycerides
- Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
- Reduce the chances of stroke and heart attack
- fight depression and anxiety
- Improve eye health
- Help with brain health.
These are just of the few of the many health benefits that Omega 3 offers.
Vitamin D, or as many people know it, the sunshine vitamin, is one of the most important vitamins your body needs to synthesize. We need take vitamin D supplements because of the lack of sunshine we get in the UK. The benefits of Vitamin D are as follows:
- Regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphurus
- Facilitates normal immune system function
- Vital in the development of bones and teeth
- Improves the bodies’ resistance to many diseases
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These supplements often come as a combination because they work so well together. They are found in the connective tissues in the human body, usually at the ends of bones in the joints. Taking these as a supplement will help to rebuild worn cartilage, which will help prevent diseases such as arthritis. People are split when it comes to the benefits of these supplements, however, in my experience, they definitely work. Their benefits include:
- Reduction in inflammation
- Supporting healthy joints
- Treating bone and joint disorders
- Treatment of glaucoma
Turmeric is a natural spice that is regularly used in Asian cooking. It is known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Grown for it’s root, this little orange spice packs a punch and can be used by anyone. The health benefits are:
- It is a anti-inflammatory
- Powerful anti-oxidant
- It has anti-cancer effects
- It can help with skin conditions
- It is said to be nourishing for the brain.
These are just a few benefits of this spice hero.
There are many supplements on the market, but you must research carefully before you take them. It is imperative that you get the advice of your health practitioner, qualified nutritionist or dietitian, before you take any supplement, as taking too many, and ones you do not require will be very detrimental to your body.
Myths Around Supplements
There are certain myths about supplements. How helpful they are is really a question for each individual that takes them. The jury is out on how they are actually enhancing our lives. Like I previously said, taking the correct supplements is vital and this is the only way you will know what is right for you. Let’s have a look at some of the myths:
- You can’t overdose on supplements – You most definitely can overdose on vitamins. You can do serious damage to your vital organs. For example, overdosing on vitamin C turns it from an anti-oxidant into a pro-oxidant, which will severely damage your cells.
- Supplements are never necessary – This is simply untrue. Supplements can be necessary depending on your ethnic origin. They can also be needed if you are allergic to milk, as you may need calcium and vitamin D. Pregnant women are also advised to take a folic acid supplement.
- Supplements and vitamins should be taken on an empty stomach – There is limited truth behind this. Water soluble vitamins can be taken anytime. However, fat soluble vitamins are more successfully digested when they are taken with a source of fat.
My Daily Regime
Throughout my years as a trainer, I wanted to ensure optimal health for myself. I mean, if I didn’t practice what I preached, then how can I expect people to listen to my advice!
The way I did this was to carefully research what my body needed to be at it’s healthiest. We all have different needs but for me it was Vitamin D, Glucosamine and Chondroitin, Omega 3 and Turmeric. Due to being a vegetarian, my body needed help to ensure good health of joints and bones. I visited my GP for a blood test, which put me in the right direction in regards to my required supplementation.
I have found the above supplements support me to go about my daily needs. They help with my training, as my recovery rate has definitely sped up.
Supplements for Fitness
The supplement industry is booming. Although the obesity rate is increasing, the fitness industry is also on the up. As the fitness industry increases, more supplements are sold. More exercise means more strain on the body, which in turn leads to an increased need for supplementation.
When it comes to supplementing for fitness, it all depends on your goal. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to pack on muscle? Or is your goal to enhance fitness and get stronger? An endurance athlete would not want to pack on bulk, just as a bodybuilder does not care about speed.
Supplements that are used to enhance training can range from creatine, to nitric oxide. These 2 alone, can help take training to a whole new level. However, please ensure you take them with great caution. For example, our bodies naturally produce creatine. If you supplement with synthetic creatine for too long, the body will stop producing it’s own stores. That’s why it is imperative to research your supplements before taking them.
Supplements at Home
I believe that there is definitely a place for supplements. The body does not produce certain nutrients, and although it can survive without them, including them will no doubt help your body fight off infections and illnesses. You couldn’t drive without a car, right? You can get from place to place, but wouldn’t it be so much easier with a car? The same applies to supplements.
As you guys know, I am an advocate for working out at home, as I believe it gives us more control, peace of mind, cleanliness and it can also help us stay on top of our supplement regimes. By working out at home, we can ensure we consume the right supplements at the right time. For example, consuming a pre-workout bar before training and a protein supplement straight after training. No messing with travel, bags or lockers. Just training and then nourishing your body.
The age old discussion of just how good supplements are for you, will go on for a long time, so you just need to work out what works for you, and go with that. As aforementioned, it is always advisable to get the advice of a qualified professional before you start self supplementing. If not taken correctly, they can do more harm than good. This has been my guide to supplements. I hope you have enjoyed the article, and it has pointed you in the right direction.
Thank you for reading this article. If you would like to leave any comments and/or feedback, please do so below. As always, it has been an absolute pleasure having you here. Stay safe and keep well.