What Supplements Should I Take?
I’ve been asked by a few people recently if I take any supplements and if so, which supplements do I take. There’s quite a lot of detail out there especially on the World Wide Web however it seems that this plethora of information can often lead to confusion. I’ve decided to add my two cents to the debate. I’m not a medical professional so what follows is only my opinion and what I’ve found works for me and my circumstances.
The first thing to say is: You can lead a perfectly healthy life without ever taking any supplements. If you eat a well-balanced diet and lead a healthy and active lifestyle then you probably don’t need to consider any supplements to support you. If you fit this profile then chances are you don’t need to read the rest of this article. You might be curious though?
I’d like to think I fit the profile above and I do, depending on my current training schedule, take supplements. There’s not a whole lot that I get from the supplements I take that I can’t get from a quality nutritious diet however, I don’t always have the time to prepare the meals that my body needs at the times it needs it. Plus, with advances in dietary supplementation and the fact that a lot of the vitamin content in food can be lost during cooking not to mention mass harvesting, foods sprayed with pesticides and meat processing then you can really start to see how supplements can be beneficial in support of a healthy diet.
There’s only three supplements that I recommend and two of them are only needed if you are engaged in a resistance training programme.
As I’ve already mentioned a lot of the food we eat has been processed to within an inch of its life. Modern cooking techniques can also alter the nutritional composition of fruits and vegetables, depriving our bodies of the vitamins we thought we were consuming. How can you be sure then that you’re getting the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals? By taking a multivitamin of course. There are many products out there and I’m not going to recommend a particular brand, although I always aim for one that contains a mineral boost in addition to the multiple vitamin kick.
2) Whey Protein
I'm a big fan of whey protein and can’t imagine not using this powder after a gym workout now. If I was able to cook a few protein rich chicken breasts and eat them immediately after a resistance training session then I’d do it. The problem is I don’t have the time for that and what’s more, I go to the gym first thing in the morning so the thought of chicken for breakfast doesn't really appeal to me.
Whey is the highest quality and best form of protein in my opinion. The main reason I take whey after a workout is because of its muscle recovery powers. The protein helps to repair damaged muscles and supports more lean muscle mass growth than resistance training alone if consumed soon after a workout. I've been taking Kinetica whey protein for the last 6 months and have really noticed the difference both in recovery times and in lean muscle growth.
I studied protein quite a bit during my Sports Nutrition course and was delighted to learn that whey also plays a role as an antioxidant, helping to support a healthy immune system. Some studies have also shown that it can help people coping with stress and has some cancer fighting properties although more studies are required in this area and that’s well beyond the scope of my knowledge and this blog.
If you’re in to resistance training or just getting started, I can recommend whey protein as a supplement. Aim for a product that has above 70% protein yield per serving and follow the instructions carefully. I usually have one shake a day after my morning workout with my sexy porridge breakfast!
I must admit that not too long ago I thought that creatine was the root of all evil. I had heard many negative rumours about creatine and foolishly I believed them all. That was until my Sports Nutrition course opened my eyes to the positive benefits of this supplement. In particular I read an article from the International Society of Sports Nutrition related to creatine where they put to bed a lot of the myths that I had heard previously and provided detail, case studies and evidence of creatine supplementation in conjunction with exercise.
Creatine need only be taken as a supplement if you are considering a resistance training programme. Creatine is already produced naturally in the body in small doses and is perfectly safe to take as a supplement once you follow the guidelines i.e. the loading phase and the rest periods. The reported benefits of creatine are in improving anaerobic capacity, strength, and lean body mass in conjunction with training. So creatine is only for bodybuilders then? Actually, studies show that there is room for greater improvement and percentage gains for general gym goers like you and I thanks to creatine supplementation compared to elite athletes. Good news for office workers that like to hit the gym!
I trialled creatine over the course of a 3 month period this year. It’s difficult to assess the overall gains that creatine provided me as I was very disciplined with the new training programme and, while I did make gains during this period, the percentage of gains made as a result of creatine supplementation is difficult to gauge. I did however increase the weights I was lifting consistently (albeit minor increases) over this period as well as improving lean muscle mass.
I like what I've seen so far and I believe in the quality publications that I have read so I'm excited to push myself hard during my next resistance training programme to (hopefully) reap the benefits that creatine has to offer.
There you have it folks, the three supplements that I use and recommend. As I mentioned previously I am not a medical professional so you should always consult a doctor before taking any supplement.
Do you currently take any supplements? Have you taken any of the above before? Do you agree with my position stance or is it all nonsense?? I’d love to hear what you have to say, please leave me a comment in the section below.
Until the next time…..eat well and exercise regularly!
Yours in health,
P.S I love talking about wellness so feel free to drop me a line to discuss any of the above. Contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Low Down
Brian Crooke is a wellness consultant specialising in the design, improvement and auditing of wellness initiatives for Irish businesses. He is the founder of Office Worker Health, a platform dedicated to promoting health and wellbeing to the working population.
Don’t miss out on updates or announcements by signing up to the newsletter below.