Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat:
Supplements should be addressed after nutrition, and shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a varied whole food diet.
If you’d like to know what we mean by a ‘varied whole food diet’, head over here: How To Create The Perfect Weight-Loss Meal
Alright, so we’re in agreement that you can’t expect to take these and get great results without addressing your nutrition and lifestyle? Good.
Because honestly? As much as we’d love to imagine that we live in a world where everyone’s intentions are nothing but pure…. certain supplement companies can be highly misleading.
Because they’re just that- a company.
And as a company, their goal is to have you reach into your pocket and hand over some hard earned cash for their product.
So, what is it everyone secretly wants when it comes to their health and fitness?
Hence the bold claims that taking such-and-such pill or powder will ‘double your results in half the time’ or ‘get you shredded in 7 days or less’.
Such claims are most oftentimes unfounded- hence the creation of this article, so we can give you the lowdown on the products that might actually be worth your time.
As a general rule the more skulls and flames a package has? The less likely you should be to buy it.
Worthwhile Supplement Number One:
Probably the first product type that springs to mind when most people think of supplements is a protein powder- probably alongside an image of ‘gym-bros’ fist bumping and talking about gains.
But the truth is a good quality protein powder? Can be a beneficial supplement even outside of fist-bumping social circles.
Now if I were a supplement company trying to pedal you my product, I’d probably be droning on about the increased absorption speed of a liquid protein in relation to a solid meal, and cite the need to have fast absorption post training for recovery purposes.
And such claims aren’t entirely without merit…
However the number one real world advantage of a protein powder isn’t in any benefit over real food- it’s in its convenience.
Most of us work jobs that don’t allow us the freedom to eat whenever we want, and because of this it’s common to turn to a low-protein, processed snack mid-afternoon as we find our energy dipping.
A good quality protein powder gives us a more nutritional sound option than turning to a doughnut or a bag of crisps, and will far more effectively contribute to us achieving our health and physique goals.
You have whey, casein, pea, hemp… low carb, higher carb and everything in between depending on your needs (and tastes).
Whilst it should never make up the majority of your protein intake (real food should do that). If performance, fat loss and health is your goal, shooting for above 0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight of protein is a good measuring stick, and having a shake as an option makes it that much easier a target to hit.
Whilst (as with everything on this list), it’s not 100% necessary, it can certainly be a valuable asset if you find yourself always on the go, or perhaps struggle with getting enough protein in through the day.
Check out this recipe to make your shake even more delicious, and have it as a treat: Immune Boosting Green Smoothie Recipe
Worthwhile Supplement Number Two:
Omega 3s are a fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties- and works to counter balance Omega 6s (pro-inflammatory).
For ideal health it’s been suggested a 1:1 ratio between Omega 3s & 6s is the goal- however modern diets and poor meat and soil quality has lead that be be closer to 16:1 in favour of Omega 6s in recent times.
Omega 3 supplementation has been linked with:
- Decreased inflammation
- Improved joint health
- Increased cognitive function
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Reduced risk of heart disease and various illnesses.
Now you can help to naturally create a more favourable 3-6 ratio by eating more:
- Fatty fish
- Grass-fed beef
- Unheated Olive oils
And eating less:
- Processed meats
- Canola/vegetable oils cooked at high heats
However benefits have been shown by supplementing with a gram a day of a good quality (sourced from smaller fish) omega 3 pill or oil.
Again, taking the action to ensure you’re eating less processed foods and more natural products will play a large role, but adding in supplementation from a reputable source has the potential to improve your health and fat-loss attempts.
Worthwhile Supplement Number Three:
Ok so I’m guessing you didn’t see this one coming.
Creatine is often seen as a ‘meathead’ supplement, due to it’s ability to improve potential power output (and causing slight fluid rendition within the muscle belly).
However recent research is pointing more and more to creatine supplementation causing the following benefits:
- Improved memory and cognitive function*
- Decreased symptoms of depression*
- Improved muscular endurance
- Minor increase in testosterone
- Reduced DNA damage
*More so applicable to vegans/vegetarians.
Creatine is found naturally in some animal and fish meats, however not in the 3-5 gram active dose quantities needed for the majority of health benefits.
Is it needed? As with all of these supplements, no.
Does it work? As (again with all these supplements) yes.
Worthwhile Supplement Number Four:
Once again I feel it’s important to note what you’ve already heard me say countless times: this shouldn’t be a replacement for whole foods.
Greens powders are vitamin and minerals in as simple to mix form. Would it be better to get it with the fibre of fruits and vegetables (or the zoochemicals from meats)?
However, is this a convenient option if you’re travelling, or are having a protein shake for breakfast as you’re in a rush and want it to be more nutrient dense?
A good greens powder can help ensure you’re getting enough nutrients from your diet, so if you struggle with eating enough fruits and vegetables, or know you will due to travel, it can be a very worthwhile investment.
Worthwhile Supplement Number Five:
Probiotics contribute to healthy gut and digestive system health.
They can be found naturally in yoghurts, kombucha, kiefer amongst other sources and are healthy bacteria that keep your insides functioning well.
This is especially helpful if you’ve been taking antibiotics for whatever reason, are partially stressed, or recovering from an illness.
Ideally you’d want to pick a reputable brand with between 3-5 billion (yes, billion) as a starting dose (although it can be increased to 10).
Personally outside of the above factors (stress or illness) I’d suggest getting the majority of your probiotic intake via natural sources, but supplementation does have it’s place.
Now, Let’s Beat A Dead Horse…
I know you know, you know I know, but let’s cover it one more time shall we?
A well balanced diet and lifestyle should be addressed before looking to supplements.
And are these everything available?
A quick trip to a supplement store will let you know the answer to that one: not even close.
But, these five? These five can be justified.
The “Super-Shred-Fat-Burner-5000” however?
It’s a little harder to get on board with that one.
A good calorie balance and lifestyle will address that far more effectively (and a good black coffee is a great shout for a pre-workout if you’re wanting one!).
Knowing what’s worthwhile and what’s a money-grab is half the battle when navigating the complicated world of nutrition supplements.
Just remember- whole foods, sleep, hydration and a good training regime will make up 90% of the results. Everything else? Is just the icing on top.
Getting your head around what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and when it’s OK to supplement (and what kind) can be very confusing.
Believe us when we say we completely understand how difficult weight loss can be. The Luke Bremner Fitness team have worked with hundreds of clients who initially found weight loss difficult challenging, as you may be now.
If you are currently struggling to lose weight and are unsure where you’re going wrong, perhaps we can help. We appreciate losing weight and improving your health can be overwhelming and confusing. By breaking it down in to simple, actionable steps that are achieveable, we can help, just like we have with the hundreds of clients we’ve worked with – many of whom you can read about here.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.