07 Sep Supplementation – What do you really need?
This question arises quite frequently with our online or offline personal training clients. The concern is real and there are definitely sometimes advantages to supplementing. The problem is that the fitness & supplement industry has muddied the waters when it comes to what you really need.
What supplementation do you really need?
This brings me to the first question. What do you really need. Most of us listen to some fellow lifters, weight loss colleagues, etc. What works for them will work for you and me. Well, that can be dangerous, inefficient, or expensive and at its worst all three.
How to identify your need?
Urine & blood testing might be the best option to really identify what you need. The problem is the expense.
There are a couple of other options.
- Identify your goals: weight loss, recovery, performance, muscle gain, etc.
- Write down your basic diet for one week, don’t change anything
- Analyze the diet for the following factors
- Macro-Nutrient Intake: carbs, protein, fats.
- Vegetable intake
- Fruit intake
- Nutrition during exercise
- Sleep patterns
Goal based supplementation
- Weight Loss: weight loss supplementation is sketchy at best. Some of the supplements that work can have interactions with medications. You should consult your physician before randomly using supplements.
- 2 Cups of coffee per day spaced throughout the day then add
- 2x10mg of synephrine, get used to it, then add
- 2x 90 mg of salicin (white willow extract)
- Muscle Gain
- Carb+Protein drink during workout (30g of carbs+10-15g of protein)
- Creatine 5g/day, no loading phase necessary, basic creatine monohydrate the best
- Nitrate through 500g of your chosen veggie like beets
- Injury Recovery
- 1.5-2.0 g of protein / kg of weight; in g/lbs = a little bit under 1g/lb
- Supplementation of 3-9g of fish oil/day (too high of anti-inflammatory response can reduce healing)
- Avoid oral Vitamin E supplementation, since it may slow healing
- Vitamin A may be taken by up to 10,000 UI daily for week 1-2 of an acute injury but will build up toxicity.
- 1-2g of Vitamin C can help recovery from surgery, injury and ulcers
- Turmeric can be taken to up to 8g without contraindications. It has a poor oral bioavailability and should be taken with black pepper extract (piperine).
Nutrition based supplementation
We are talking about good basic nutrition. I know you have a busy life. That is why I had you write down your nutrition for 5 days. It will give us some ideas on where we can help with nutrition.
- If you are low in carbs, don’t worry about it, you usually do not need to supplement it unless you are an endurance athlete and need a higher carb intake.
- If you are low in omega-3 fatty acid, because of your fat sources you can supplement 3-5g/day with some high quality fish oil
- If you are low in protein, we recommend supplementing with a high quality whey/vegetable protein. A minimum of 0.8g / kg if you are completely sedentary, up to 2g/kg as an athlete
- If you are low on veggies & fruit on some days you can supplement with a freeze-dried greens & fruit product on those days, as well as some fiber, if your diet is low fiber.
- If you have weight gain goals, or performance goals you want to make sure to eat during workouts longer than 60 min and or workouts in the early morning. A mix of carbs+protein comes in handy (mentioned above).
Sleep & Recovery
If you are not sleeping enough (<7 hours). You should definitely see what the cause is:
- Do you allow enough sleep? allow 7.5 hours of sleep at least
- Do you have the television on, or watch movies or read on your tablet? It will interrupt your melatonin production. You can get a blue light filter app for your device or nerdy glasses 🙂
- Are you a worrier? Write down the things that go on in your mind and take a 10 min warm to hot foot bath. It helps you to relax
- If all of these fail to improve your sleep:
- 200 mg of magnesium citrate or malate can help as a base
- 600 mg of lemon balm and 80 mg of lavender oil can work for people who have intrusive thoughts or anxiety. Take it 30 min prior to your bed time
- If you have trouble falling asleep take the magnesium and 500 mcg of melatonin 30 min before going to bed.
Supplements should always be exactly that: they should supplement your nutrition and your lifestyle. They are not a replacement and should not be abused. Make a serious effort in order to get your ducks lined up in a row.
Have an awesome day,
Berardi, J. & Andrews, R. (2013). The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Precision Nutrition