Supplements. Everyone seems to be talking about them. Everyone is (maybe) using them. Advertisements fill up our news-feeds, IG feeds, and Google search results (is that just me?). But what are THE best supplements out there?
It’s pretty hard to find unbiased information or opinions on what supplements are necessary or beneficial for real people, folks not looking to get a shredded six pack or drop down to sub-10% body fat.
Look no further.
Today, I’m going over some of the supplements I recommend to my clients, why these supps, and other things to consider.
Before you click away thinking this is another paid review, know that I am not affiliated with any companies mentioned. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any way for this post. I just want to drop this knowledge bomb on the interwebz and help others find some good information.
Why should I take any supplements?
We’d think that malnutrition is no longer “a thing” in the developed world but this is far from the truth. Many times, people’s daily intake does not supply sufficient quantities of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. This is especially true for those who travel a lot, who have food aversions, and with those who are trying to lose weight.
Do I NEED a supplement?
You’ll only want to take a supplement if the benefits outweigh the risks (duh).
Do a supplement needs analysis by analyzing the foods you’re currently eating and your current exercise plan. A nutrition coach can be really helpful in pointing out gaps but if you want to do it yourself: log your food for three days and check out where you’re coming in short.
You’ll also want to consult with your doctor or nutrition coach to make sure that the supplement will not interact with any medications you’re currently taking.
What brand should I buy?
Supplement content is not regulated by the FDA, so companies can basically put whatever they want into a capsule and call it a supplement. To mitigate this risk, ALWAYS:
- Choose a larger company that’s been in business for a long time
- Make sure that the company provides certificates of analysis showing that their supplements are third party certified for purity.
- Choose the supplement option with the fewest number of ingredients.
What should I take?
I recommend taking five staple supplements. These are low risk supplements that are safe for regular use.
If you can tolerate a milk protein blend (like whey), that tends to be absorbed best. It is a great supplement to use when a whole-food choice is recommended but not accessible (like when you’re traveling). How often you should use this supplement depends on how close you are at hitting your protein needs without it.
In our standard diets, we often come up pretty short in our omega-3 fatty acids, so taking a fish oil is a great option. Also, unfortunately, much of the available fish supply contains environmental pollutants, so it is really hard to get enough omega-3s into our diets. It’s best to supplement with fish oil daily and occasionally eat fish.
We can never get enough fruits and veggies; they provide so many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, while also being strongly alkaline. A greens supplement will help make sure that you get enough of those nutrients if you’re not great about eating fruits and vegetables. I also love to take my greens supp whenever I’m traveling, because I am not as likely to get as many veggies as I should eat.
Multi-vitamin & Multi-mineral
Most North Americans are marginally deficient in several micronutrients, so you should be taking a multivitamin every day. Pick one that contains as close to 100% of the daily value of all nutrients as possible. As women, it’s important to grab a ‘women’s’ specific option to ensure adequate intake of iron and folate.
Ahhhh, I love my BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) for sipping during and after a tough workout. These little babies will give your muscles quickly digestible protein (AKA energy) during a tough workout. BCAAs are great for preserving your lean muscle when you’re on a calorie restricted diet. Of the five supplements, this is the one you can skip if you’re short on $$ but I HIGHLY recommend it for those who are aiming for fat loss.
Hopefully this demystifies supplements a little bit for you! If you have specific questions, let me know! I would be happy to chat.
Although I am a Precision Nutrition L1 coach, I am not a registered dietician. Before implementing any advice listed, consult a medical professional.
What supplements do you use?