What Supplements Should I Take When?
Achieving a health and fitness goal is not just a matter of putting in the training time and getting the right macros from your food.
As you progress in your health and fitness journey, you will need additional help as you near your goal. Help comes in the form of designing a supplement program.
The term “supplements” refers to products including vitamins and minerals which have been manufactured for the purpose of supporting your nutritional program.
If you are physically active, your macronutrient requirement will be higher than someone sedentary.
You will also need to provide greater protection for your immune system and organs.
Trying to get all of these from whole foods will be difficult especially if you’re a full-time student, hold down a 9-to-5 job or hands-on entrepreneur. Supplements are portable and convenient.
It will not take more than 30 seconds to shake your whey protein drink and even less to pop a few vitamins.
There are many supplements in the market. In fact, there are so many types of supplements including varieties that it can be overwhelming and confusing.
You have to be selective and purposeful when choosing the supplements for your program. Supplements have different functions.
Not all will serve the purpose of attaining your health and fitness goals.
Here are a few tips on designing a supplement program…
Know Your Body
Even if you have been training and following a clean diet, it would be advisable to err of the side of caution and get yourself medically cleared by your doctor or a licensed health practitioner.
The majority of supplements in the market are synthetic. Some include artificial sweeteners and food coloring.
You could have an adverse reaction to them or ingesting some of these ingredients could exacerbate a pre- existing condition.
Your doctor or perhaps a certified nutritionist can advise you on the types of supplements, vitamins and minerals that you need.
Research On The Most Reliable Brands In The Market
The supplement industry is unregulated. This makes it a must to be especially selective in the brand(s) you will use because manufacturers are not required to prove the authenticity of their product.
Recently, big retail chains such as Wal-Mart were caught selling natural herbal supplements made of rice, wheat and other cheap fillers.
Before you buy your supplements, identify the most reliable brands in the market.
While supplement review websites are helpful, many of these are sponsored by supplement manufacturers. Ask the people you can trust in your gym for their advice.
Review Your Progress
As mentioned earlier, supplements are designed with different functions in mind.
But then there are the basics which could be categorised as standard components in a supplement program.
The reason why these are considered standard is because their functions are applicable to a wide range of health and fitness goals. Your basic supplement stack could include:
• Whey protein – Fastest acting type of protein in the market that could help enhance recovery time and muscle repair.
• BCAAs – Essential amino acids that your body must have for repair and maintenance.
• Vitamin C – Functions to protect your immune system and is a valuable anti- oxidant.
• Vitamin B – Helps relieve stress and improve mental focus.
The next step is to evaluate your current progress and identify the courses of action that could help you improve performance.
For example, you have stalled in your weight loss program. First, this is normal so do not be worried!
Weight loss does not follow a linear path. As your body goes through changes, its internal systems will undergo its own adjustments. Usually, a simple tweak in the diet should get you back on course.
But you may wish to consider these supplements which are popularly recommended to augment weight loss:
• Green Tea Extract – Supposed to curb your appetite and increase metabolism.
• Chromium Picolinate – Supposed to enhance the use of insulin and allows for better conversion of carbohydrates into energy.
• 7- Keto- DHEA – Supposed to work by increasing your metabolism.
Before trying any new supplement, always do the research first and check with your doctor if these are safe to take given your health condition.
Develop A Schedule
Supplements tend to be more effective when taken according to schedule.
This is because each type of supplement has a specific function and optimising its benefits will often come down to timing.
Going back to our weight loss example, assuming you have been cleared to take these supplements, your intake schedule could look like this:
Upon Waking: Whey Protein
Before Breakfast: Chromium Picolinate
After Breakfast: Vitamin C, Vitamin B
Before Exercise: Green Tea Extract
During Exercise: BCCAs
After Exercise: Whey Protein
After Dinner: 7- Keto- DHEA
Include A Schedule To Cycle Off
Many supplements carry an advisory on their label that it is “generally safe” to use their product year-round.
Keep in mind that most of these products contain synthetic or artificial ingredients. Prolonged use of these substances may not be ideal.
Even whey protein powder despite its general acceptance to the mainstream market is best taken periodically.
Once you finish a container of whey protein or a bottle of vitamins, give your body one to months off before taking the supplement again.
There are many studies that promote the use of supplements, vitamins and minerals.
And there are also many studies that refute their value and effectiveness.
Some of the strongest proponents of vitamins such as the late Dr. Linus Pauling, have research that show how vitamin C can help alleviate the damaging effects of illnesses as grave as cancer.
The best approach toward the use of supplementation is moderation. These are after all designed to “supplement” your health and fitness goals.
Supplements are not “wonder pills” or “magic powders” that will get you from zero to hero overnight.
It’s great to include supplements in a holistic health, fitness and wellness program but these can quickly become counter- productive if you develop a dependency to them.