Supplements have become "the norm" in the fitness industry. Fitness fanatics swear by their pre-workout powders and post-workout protein shakes. Fish oil? Check. Multivitamin? Check. Magnesium? Check. You name the deficiency, there's a supplement for it. Can you even have a good workout without downing caffeine right before it?
My opinion on supplements is that our bodies truly don't need them...if you're eating a whole food, all-natural balanced diet that provides you with all of your nutrients. However, that isn't easily manageable in today's world. Here are some tips I'd like to share:
Get to know your body.
Vitamins and supplements only work to the extent that you know your body’s needs. For example, are you tired everyday? Are you having trouble sleeping? Are you having problems with digestion? Explore your body and go from there. Be patient once you begin taking your selected vitamin or supplement. Don’t expect quick fixes, although you may see improvement quickly. Give your body time to respond and treat the imbalance. Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see improvement. Sometimes it takes exploring a few different methods of treatment to solve our body imbalances. Also, be sure to consult a doctor; just because your Biotin has more mgs, doesn't mean your body needs or can even absorb more.
Are they safe?
The broad answer is yes. However, a word of caution… Everyone is unique and we all have sensitivities so it is always best to consult a certified health professional before incorporating anything into your daily routine. One big word of advice is to buy from a reliable source. Many companies are all about the money and include more additives than the active ingredient. I head to iherb.com or vitacost.com and look into trusted sources.
How do my eating habits effect my vitamin and supplements choices?
What are you putting in it and what are you not? For example, if you are vegan or vegetarian, you are getting very different nutrients than someone who eats a lot of read meat and fish. Your food choices are completely personal and I think everyone should find the time to figure out the foods that they love that love them back. In the same way, consider what you might be leaving out of your daily eating patterns and look to vitamins and supplements to help balance any areas where you aren’t getting enough. For example, Iron is found in red meat but someone who was vegan and isn’t making sure they eat their leafy spinach greens might need a daily boost.
What do I take?
Pre-workout: Occasionally, I drink an all-natural pre-workout formula or black coffee before my HIT or strength training workouts.
Post-workout: Real food (combo of protein + carbs) or post-workout shake made with protein powder (I love VEGA's plant-based proteins or if I'm looking for a sweet treat, I stick with Quest Nutrition's formulas).
Other: Currently? None. I used to take biotin, a probiotic, multivitamin and fish oil everyday but now I aim to get these from real food and found that I feel better this way. For example, I'll get my Omega 3 fish oils from salmon and other fatty fish and probiotics from kombucha.