Making Sense of Supplements: How to Not Waste Your Time and Money
I had a friend of mine message me a few days ago asking about my thoughts on supplements.
He had gone into Walgreens and had seen this daunting wall of supplements that they had on display and wondered what many of you have probably wondered – how do I make sense of this all?
With the vast amount of supplements out there it can be extremely difficult to make an informed decision on what to do – I understand this and, just like you, I’ve seen these types of displays at different stores in the past.
Today, I’ll help simplify things for you and give you my thoughts.
Before I even get started I want to let you know something – I am not a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist, nor do I have any degree in nutrition, I do however possess a fair amount of knowledge on nutrition that has been gathered through years of personal use and researching.
With all that being said, let’s dig in!
One of the first things to understand with supplements is something you have all heard – supplements exist to supplement your diet – mind-blowing thought I know.
However, I have to tell you this because so many people fail to recognize that point – they have horrible diets in the first place and then try to use supplements to make up for everything they are doing wrong – not the greatest way to go.
First, I’d advise you to fix your diet and then go from there. A great resource on fixing your broken diet can be found from the team at Precision Nutrition – the people I look to for all things Nutrition – I’d highly recommend taking a look at it.
After getting a stronger grasp on what a good diet looks like you can then really start to get a grasp of what supplements to take.
Now, seeing that the majority of the clients I work with or people I talk to want to lose weight or lose body fat let’s start with supplements to aid in that.
Supplements That Help With Fat Loss:
- Protein Powder
- Fish Oil
This list comes from Precision Nutrition and you can read more from them here (By the way, I’ll reference them a lot. They are a great resource on nutrition and have helped me learn a great deal.)
Do I think you need to go out and buy all of these supplements right away and take them religiously? No, not at all. But, in terms of fat loss these will help you out.
I know you are itching to know more about these supplements and I’ll tell you shortly, but first I have to reiterate a past point.
Remember how I mentioned you should work on fixing your diet first?
Well, when my client Jerry lost 70+ pounds guess what he did first? He worked on fixing his diet. I had him take some whey protein eventually to make it easier for him to get enough protein every day, but the cornerstone of his nutrition was an improved diet.
Now, back to those 4 supplements I mentioned.
Here is the skinny (pun intended) on what you need to know.
- Protein Powder – If you are getting enough protein through your diet (About 1 gram per pound of body weight) then you may not need to use any protein powder. However, using protein powder is a fast, efficient, way of upping the amount of protein you consume. This will allow you to build muscle, raise your metabolism, and function more efficiently. There are a variety of kinds of protein powders and to learn about the specifics click here. Don’t get too enamored with which is the absolute best type, I personally use whey protein from a store called Elite Nutrition. I receive a discount for being a personal trainer which helps a bit on the financial side 🙂 I will tell you that a protein supplement from Walgreens or Walmart will do just fine as well. Try something out and see what you like.
- Fish Oil – This is a supplement that is not only good for your overall health, but also has been shown to help a great deal with fat loss. Many people take this in the capsule form, but the liquid form I’ve found to be much more convenient. I can promise you it doesn’t taste fishy either. Over the past month or two I’ve used the fish oil from Carlson Labs and I’ve liked it thus far. To learn pretty much everything about fish oil click here.
- Multivitamin – Using a multivitamin supplement is all about fixing your nutrient deficiencies. Think of it this way – if your body isn’t functioning efficiently, you aren’t going to be in the ideal state to burn fat. As you fix your deficiencies you’ll have more success.
- Greens – We all know we should eat our veggies, but many of us don’t. To make sure you still get the necessary nutrients you can try a greens supplement such as Athletic Greens. I do a pretty good job eating my veggies so I haven’t tried out this supplement yet, but I encourage you to use it if you struggle to eat your veggies. The Athletic Greens supplement has amazing reviews and is worth taking a look at.
I mentioned that these are some great supplements to use if you are trying to lose fat or lose weight, but they are also super important for simply everyday health.
If you have read this far and are wondering about other supplements such as a pre-workout, creatine, or something else I would say this – you don’t really need them.
Sure, if you are an elite athlete or trying to become one this may come into play, but for any recreational lifter trying to get fit I would say to save your money. Focus on an improved diet, better sleep, lower stress, and increased hydration. If you have all of those things in check you will be more than alright. Seeing as how many of still have a lot of those things to work on I’d say you should start there.
I personally use whey protein, fish oil, and a multivitamin. Those don’t cost all that much each month and so it works for me. If you want to spend a few hundred dollars per month on supplements be my guest, but I’ll tell you that you are probably wasting your money – something nobody wants to do.
To wrap things up just remember that supplements exist to supplement – focusing on food first and foremost is the most important thing!