Can taking a supplement actually improve my performance in and out of the gym? Are supplements even safe? What are supplements anyway? Which supplements should I be taking and how much? There are so many different brands, how do I know which is best for me? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, hopefully this will help.
A supplement (sup-ple-ment) is something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. For the purposes of this writing, supplements are products containing ingredients such as: vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and enzymes.They come in forms such as tablets, capsules, soft-gels, gel-caps, powders and liquids. The supplement industry is a huge business saturated with thousands of companies selling the same stuff. And for the most part, it actually is the same stuff. Very similar to gas stations, any station you go to sells the same gas. They may advertise that they have the best additives for your engine but at the end of the day its fuel and it came from the same place. (Retrieved from www.dictionary.com)
One of the biggest concerns with any supplement is safety. Which ones are safe to take and which ones aren’t? Unfortunately it’s not that easy and the answer isn’t definitive because some are perfectly safe and others aren’t. Supplements aren’t reviewed by the FDA prior to sale for safety and effectiveness. The manufacturers and distributers of the supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they go to market. That means that we as consumers are left to trust whoever makes the supplement. It means what they say is in the bottle may not even be in the bottle. It also means there may be additional ingredients that aren’t listed on the bottle and until something bad happens and there is a safety concern, no one will ever know. DANGER! (Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ ucm109760.htm)
If you’ve ever bought supplements from us at New Era you know that we carry specific products from select companies. We’ve carefully selected these companies because we use them ourselves and feel very confident in their safety. Think of us as your personal Ginny Pigs. Poliquin (http://main.poliquinstore.com/quality-assurance) for example has multiple tests run on their products prior to hitting the market. It does make their supplements a little more expensive but in that price, you’re buying the safety of knowing you’re getting what the bottle says you’re getting. SFH http://www.sfh.com/education/science/omega-3-fish-oil) sells fish oil from Main. It’s our belief that there is no higher quality fish oil on the market. Our goal is and always will be to only sell products we feel safe taking ourselves.
So which supplements actually work and should be taken regularly? When training hard there are a few musts! Then, depending on your goals there are always more that can help. In order of impor tance:
- 1. A high quality multi-vitamin: If you have a perfect diet and eat enough fruits and veggies you might be fine without them. But how do you know? A multi-vitamin is a lot like an insurance policy. You never need it…until you do. Which is why most people have insurance and is also why most people should be taking a multi-vitamin. They’re fairly inexpensive and pretty easy to swallow.We recommend NOW Nutrition or Poliquin.
- 2. Fish Oil: There are very few people who shouldn’t be taking fish oil. If you eat fish 2-3 times a week you’re probably fine without it. If you don’t, it will provide noticeable improvement in achy joints by reducing inflammation.
- 3. Magnesium: Most people are in need of magnesium and it’s many benefits. Studies show it can assist the immune system in keeping you healthy, control inflammation, blood pressure, energy levels, and help manage diabetes. Magnesium comes in a a bunch of different forms such as taurate, gluconate, oxide, phosphate, hydroxide, chloride, bicarbonate, etc. Our advice; stay away from oxide as it salt based and doesn’t absorb very easily in our bodies.
- 4. D3: Key in promoting healthy bones by improving the absorption of calcium. But there is recent and mounting evidence that links low levels of the vitamin to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, muscle and bone pain, and, perhaps more serious, cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, ovaries, esophagus, and lymphatic system. (Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/ food-recipes/vitamin-d-vital-role-in-your-health)
- 5. A clean Isolate Protein: Here’s the story simplified; in working out you’re breaking down muscles and they become depleted. In order to gain strength, stamina, endurance, power, etc. it is crucial that you aid your body in repairing and fueling those worn out muscles. For humans,, the optimal time for that refuel is an hour window post exercise. There are a ton of proteins on the market but the best for a post workout shake is an Isolate due to its high rate of absorption. If you’re looking for a meal replacement you are fine with a blend. Whatever the protein is for, our advice is to buy one thats clean and has minimal ingredients. When reading the list of ingredients if it has more than 5-10 ingredients, search for a better option. We like Bodylogix (http://www.bodylogix.com/canada/natural-whey-isolate/), Myogenix MyoIce,(https:// myogenix.com/products/myo-ice), Myogenix Iso1-Natural (https://myogenix.com/products/ISO-1- Natural), Dymatize Iso100 (http://www.dymatize.com/shop/protein/iso-100) just to name a few. There are other clean proteins on the market, we just have good experience with those listed.
- 6. Probiotic: Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. Some common conditions they treat are: Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-related diarrhea, skin conditions such as eczema, urinary and vaginal health, help in preventing allergies and colds, as well as oral health. (Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what- are-probiotics)
Next, depending on your goals look into taking these:
- 7. Glutamine: Glutamine has been a staple for athletes and fitness enthusiasts for benefits to muscle recovery and glutamine’s impact on the body’s immune system as a whole. Glutamine has many advantages to helping improve performance and health but the biggest benefit of glutamine in my opinion is the reduction of soreness. I can honestly say that there is a significant difference in how sore I feel when taking glutamine vs not taking it…Night and day! I strongly recommend metabolic Nutrition TAG. (https://metabolicnutrition.com/product/tag)
- 8. Creatine: Creatine is a molecule produced by the body and found in fairly high doses in foods such as meat, eggs and fish. It’s comprised of several amino acids and is present in almost all cells acting as a energy reserve. The majority of creatine is stored in muscles which is why it’s shown to improve strength, power and anaerobic activity. One of only a handful of supplements that has been tested over and over for years and actually shows scientific proof of doing what it says it does. In the early days of creatine the problem was that it caused bloating and cramping in a lot of users. Not really the case anymore but if you do experience those issues EFX Kre-Alkalyn is a good choice! The most common form of creatine is a monohydrate which you can’t go wrong with. There are other forms that are said to increase absorption but the jury is still out on those.
- 9. Carnitine: Carnitine assists in the breakdown of energy stores in cells and plays an essential role in making fat available for muscle tissue – promoting muscular energy. L-Carnitine utilizes the long-chain fatty acids that are present in your body for energy and also supports a healthy environment for lean muscle growth and development, which leads to a strong, lean and defined physique. L-Carnitine is not a stimulant fat burner, and has the many other general health benefits.We like Pro Supps L-Carnitine.
- 10. BCAA’s: There’s more research that supports the use of BCAAs than most other supplements on the market.They are said to potentially enhance muscle protein synthesis, improve body weight control and fat loss during energy restricted diets, as well as improve endurance. Here’s a pretty good article if you’d like to learn a little more: (https:// www.crossfitinvictus.com/blog/should-you-be-taking-branched-chain-amino-acids/)
Supplements can provide benefits when used properly and chosen carefully.They can also be a huge waste of money if you believe everything the label says and buy blindly. Stick to the ones that have been around for decades and used by many with no negative side effects. Use the list above as an easy guide to get started and always feel free to ask us at the gym or through email. Keep in mind these recommendations are solely based on our experience, what we’ve seen work and appear to be safe.This is not to say that there aren’t other options available that are equally as effective, I’m sure there are. In addition, if there is a product you want that we don’t carry just let us know and we can most likely get it for you.