Update: Supplements – What to Take, and Why

Supplements are common ways that athletes increase their benefits from exercise. They can make the difference between a fit, lean physique, and a slightly doughy one (for lack of better words). But they can also help improve general nutrition and healthy eating. With this being said, keep in mind that nothing beats a clean diet and exercise. Supplements should be used to assist with goals, not take the place of healthy eating and physical activity.

A common question, is whether to take supplements in liquid form vs. a pill. Your body will absorb 98% of a liquid supplement, while sometimes only absorbing 3-20% of a pill. However, pills can be great if you can’t stomach the liquid, or for a grab and go type lifestyle. If opting for pills, look for those that come in capsules (think those clear plastic pills that are 2 halves joined in the middle, versus the hard pills with no coating).

Multivitamin:multi

A multivitamin should be taken first thing in the morning. I like to take mine after my first couple bites of breakfast, because I get stomach pain if I take it on an empty stomach. Your body needs13 essential vitamins to function, and adding a multivitamin to your daily routine assures that you get everything you need. Remember – it’s always best to get all your nutrients from whole foods, but a multivitamin is a good SUPPLEMENT to aid in your diet.

Fish Oil:fish oil

Taken in the morning, and/or with meals. Fish oil is comprised of essential fats (aka – fats that your body can’t produce on it’s own). Fish oil helps stabilize insulin; so that dietary simple sugars are stored as energy instead of fat. Fish oil can also help preserve muscle (ie – if you don’t work out daily, you will maintain your gains through your off days). The recommended dose of fish oil is 220 mg of EPA and 220 mg of DHA per day. Fish oil is sensitive to sunlight/oxygen, so look for a dark glass bottle, and a smaller bottle if possible (the more you open it for a serving, the more oxygen gets in). Krill oil is less sensitive to oxygen/light so it’s a great option.

bcaaBCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids):

Helps growth of muscle, fatigue, recovery. Last longer. BCAAs are great for helping maintain muscle mass while in a caloric deficit (help lose fat but maintain muscle). They may also help improve mood and increase workout intensity, because they compete with tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the brain. Serotonin can increase the feeling of fatigue (think turkey day naps), so BCAAs can combat that. The current suggested ratio is 2:1:1 (2 parts leucine, 1 part isoleucine, 1 part valine).

glutamineGlutamine:

Key roll in metabolizing protein. Helps body release HGH which helps metabolize body fat, increase muscle growth. For non-weight lifting individuals, glutamine also plays key roll in immune system – used by white blood cells to fight off infection.

 L-Carnitine:l-carnitine

Take in the morning on empty stomach. It acts as natural fat burner, and transfers long-chain fatty acids, such as triglycerides, into cell mitochondria, where they may be oxidized to produce energy. L-Carnitine has also been shown to reduce fatigue and serve as an appetite suppressant as well.

Protein:protein

There are multiple types of protein, the most commonly known being Whey – a fast acting milk-based protein that is best at supporting muscle gain. Other types of protein include casein (longer acting – perfect for that late night protein boost to get you through the night). Try to get protein from food sources, versus a protein shake or bar. Protein shakes are good additions but females should try to stay to 1/day at max. Any more than that may add fat as well. The average recommended daily intake for women is 1g per lb per day.

Creatine:creatine

Creatine monohydrate is converted into creatine phosphate in the body to keep ATP levels up. This increases the muscles energy availability, enhancing the bodies ability to do more high intensity work. Creatine’s chemical properties mean that it carries a hydration shell. This increases the amount of water in muscles. Therefore, it’s recommended that extra water is consumed when taking creatine. If all the creatine isn’t absorbed, it floats around in body (bloat) until it’s removed in urine. Take before you exercise.

CLA:cla

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a fatty acid that has been shown to cause fat loss. It is found in dairy and red meat. CLA can help increase metabolism, and enhance muscle growth. Research does, however, show that the effects of CLA are most pronounced during the first 6 months of supplementation, and slowly plateaus for up to 2 years. CLA should be taken with each meal, and recommended doses range from 3.2 to 6.4g/day.

Fat Burners, pre-workouts, etc.

These are a category all their own, and I will go more in depth in my next post about them. Check out my post on Epiburn Pro, the newest fat-burning, appetite suppressant from USP Labs here.

My Daily Supplements

As the new year has finally kicked off, I think almost everyone I know has some sort of resolution/plan to improve their health. It might also have to do with Spring Break and Summer looming over us, as it’s all we can think about  with all this cold weather!

I can’t say that I am a supplement expert, or that I have it down to a science. But I thought I would share what I take (on as much of a regular basis as I remember) and the benefits that they provide my health.

Disclaimer: All these products can (and were) purchased at the Vitamin Shoppe. I may be partial because I used to work there, but I also believe of all the box stores (Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, and Vitamin World) the Vitamin Shoppe has the best deals, and they train their employees to know about all their products, and strive to provide education daily to those employees.

Probiotic

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 12.41.40 PMAs far as probiotics go, I still have yet to figure out which is the best one to take. However, I tend to stick to the “middle of the road” options. This probiotic isn’t the cheapest, but it has 13 billion organisms, which is enough to convince me it’ll help my horrible digestive system. I don’t share this a lot, but I have a HORRIBLE digestive system. I’ve tried a few different things, short of giving up certain foods (gluten mainly) because I’m 12 and can’t stop eating toast or PB and J… And all my research says probiotics and enzymes (see next supplement) can help break down any food you eat, leading to a happy digestive system.

Digestive Enzyme

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 12.53.33 PMDigestive Enzymes are taken with each meal to help breakdown everything that you eat. Depending on what you require, there are different enzymes for you. This one that I take, helps breakdown carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fibers, and dairy. Yeah, my system is bad, so I need lots of help. To be fair I’m also crappy at sticking to a regime of taking supplements daily, so I have yet to see how much this really helps. That’s a goal for this year, to actually take them.

Greens Powder

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 12.57.08 PMThis is one of the things I throw in as often as possible. I don’t eat as many vegetables as I should, and it definitely shows. This powder, mixed into a smoothie, or protein, or even just mixed into apple juice gives all the nutrients of eating every green growing thing on this planet. Slightly expensive ($2 a day roughly), but worth it. Also helps get things moving…

Epiburn Pro

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 12.59.24 PMThis is a supplement that a lot of people won’t agree with, but if I’m being honest and telling you what I take, here you go. This is a fat-burning, appetite suppressing, caffeine pill. It’s a thermogenic, so it leaves you sweating, with freezing fingers and toes, raises your blood pressure… But it works. And I love that I can take one pill in the morning with a glass of water, and don’t have to drink coffee where my breath stinks and my teeth turn yellow every day. One pill is 100mg of caffeine – a little more than a cup of coffee. This is not for the faint of heart, or the caffeine sensitive.

Whey Protein

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 1.03.02 PMThis is the only product I don’t get at the Vitamin Shoppe, and that’s because they don’t sell it. I LOVE cellucor. And will likely switch over to their weight loss supplement instead of epiburn pro for my next bottle. I also get 25% off at cellucor.com from Christian Guzman. Whey protein usually upsets my stomach but it’s worth it for the protein benefits, and the flavor. My favorite from Cellucor: Cor-fetti. But every flavor I’ve tried is amazing. Bodybuilding.com also has 4 serving bags of each flavor so you can try flavors. I have a big jug of the Cor-Fetti, but little bags of Cinnamon Swirl, PB Marshmallow, and S’mores.

There are obviously thousands of other supplements out there, a lot that would probably help me (ie: multivitamin, vitamin B, etc). And I do take a multi-vitamin every once in a while, but I’m not consistent with a brand that I would tell you is my holy grail. I do like Optimum Nutrition’s women’s sport multi though, because It’s a small gel-cap, vs those ginormous tablets that are usual for multivitamins.

What supplements do you guys take? Any that you recommend?

The Best of Both Worlds

Any of you who have read my blog for more than the past couple posts have probably come to the conclusion that I like to workout, and I like breakfast, specifically smoothies, and coffee. When I stumbled upon this lovely recipe, from Fit For A Bride, I KNEW I had to try it.

I’m awesome at stealing other peoples ideas and incorporating them into my own life. But I always want to give credit where credit is due, so please check out this blog, where I got the idea/recipe, and give her some love! She definitely did all the leg work, and her recipe is so perfect I didn’t change a thing!

“The Perfect Coffee Protein Shake”

  • CoffeScreen Shot 2014-10-02 at 12.24.59 PMe – 1 cup.Sara recommends making a cup the night before and sticking it in the fridge. I like this idea.
  • Protein Powder – 1 scoop
    • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (don’t get unsweetend plain, the vanilla is crucial)
    • Unsweetened Cocoa – use this if you use vanilla protein powder, which is what I usually have around. Otherwise, if you use chocolate protein powder, you can skip this step.
    • A Frozen Banana – I peel it, chop it up, stick it in a ziploc bag and freeze it overnight.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 12.24.34 PM

I love my nutribullet, because I can blend this all together, and then run out the door. No extra dishes, no pouring into a different container.Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 12.24.00 PM