5 Minute Reads - Supplements

5 Minutes Reads – Supplements

Health and Fitness Topics Explored with Kyle in 1,500 Words or Less

From the Community: “Do you recommend taking any particular supplements?”

I have tried a lot of supplements over the years.  Even though I know better now, I’ve learned a lot of lessons that I the hard way which I try and pass on, so my members can take the fast track to what I know works.  The one lesson that everyone seems to have to learn for themselves is that, when it comes to health and fitness, there is no secret pill and there are no short cuts.  Health and fitness must be earned by good choices day in and day out.  This is not simply for body and fitness composition.  If you want to be healthy, you must eat well and exercise regularly.

When changing something in your life, I think it is natural to try and maximize benefits while changing as little as possible.  Why would you change your entire diet and lifestyle, if you could lose weight or gain muscle by doing everything the same in your life and just add in some supplements?  The unfortunate reality is extremely simple; people just don’t want to accept the reality until they exhaust every possible way that does not involve making big changes to their lifestyle and way of thinking.  You can save yourself YEARS of frustration, if you just accept these simple facts about living a healthy life: You must eat healthy, you must exercise regularly, you must get enough sleep, and you must manage stress.  Yes, it will be hard to change your habits and routines.  No, it will not be hard…at all…a year from now and the rest of your life to maintain your new routines and lifestyle.  Believe me, I went from fast food for every single meal, and I mean every single meal, to eating extremely clean.  It took a while, but my brain’s reward system with food has shifted and I now get just as much satisfaction and enjoyment out of knowing that I am eating healthy, nutrient dense, high-quality food as I used to get purely from taste.  Most people cannot imagine that and I couldn’t either, but believe me, I do not have daily battles with food.  I eat heathy because it has become a habit that I truly get a lot of pleasure from, not to mention the thousands of health and fitness benefits.  I was in great shape, but as soon as I cleaned up my diet, I also looked like I was in great shape.

Let’s think about what a supplement is.  It is something you add to your diet to “supplement” a deficiency or to boost something.  So, before we get into supplements further, if we take a shitty diet and we add kale and avocado to a meal, we still have a shitty diet and all of the negative effects that come with eating that shitty food.  So, when talking about supplements, unless you eat an extremely clean diet, the supplements you take are going to have such a minimal effect relative to what real food can do for you that it’s not worth the effort.  

Ok, you get it.  Food and nutrition is more important.  You‘re still may not change your eating habits because you’ve seen infomercials, ads, and Instagram bodybuilders on steroids attribute their bodies to supplements, so here’s the info…I wonder what has made me so jaded about this topic? It couldn’t be all the crap food Americans eat.

Protein - Over the course of a day for an athlete, typically .7g to 1g of protein per pound of body weight is the recommendation.  If you don’t eat a lot of meat, fish, eggs, then supplementing could have a benefit. For muscle building, it seems that 20-40g of protein is ideal.  Ideally, for muscle building, this should come from animal proteins (whey or casein which are both derived typically from milk).  

Consuming real food or supplementing with whey or casein protein powder are good options.  Lactose, whey, and casein are all different components of milk, so if you are sensitive or allergic to one, it does not mean you are sensitive or allergic to all of them.  There are a reasonable amount of people who do respond in an allergic way to whey or casein protein supplements, so you should be aware and see how you react.  Soy protein also can cause allergic reactions in some people and can be supplemented, but it seems not to be less ideal as animal proteins.

Creatine – 5g per day and there is no need to time or cycle on/off.  

Creatine is quite well-studied and seems safe and effective.  It helps release energy to aid cell function during stress which can cause strength increases with supplementation.  Creatine is mostly found in meat, fish, and eggs and can be supplemented with cheap monohydrate powder.  A small percentage of people do not respond to creatine or can have adverse effects, but the same goes for every type of food.  98% of athletes in the Olympics supplement with creatine and it would be the one supplement I would recommend you test on yourself.

Fish Oil – The minimum dose for general health is 250mg of combined EPA and DHA, which are two different fatty acids found in fish oil.  Depending on your fish consumption, the amount you should supplement will vary.  The American Heart Association recommends 1g a day, but if the goal is to reduce muscle soreness, 6g a day will be effective.  Fish oil can be supplemented throughout the day.

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and a diet with a ration of roughly 1:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is associated with healthier blood vessels, a lower lipid count, and reduced risk for plaque buildup.  Regular diets high in meat and eggs are high in omega-6 fatty acids which is why fish oil is recommended to balance the ratio.

Vitamin D – The minimum effective dose is 1,000 – 2,000 IU, but the current daily recommended allowance is currently set at 400 – 800 IU.  The safe upper limit may be as high as 10,000 IU a day.  Vitamin D3 is more effective in the body than Vitamin D2.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient, so it is good to take with meals or fish oil.  The sun is a major source, but it is also found in fish and eggs and added so many dairy products.  Although most people are not deficient in Vitamin D, they do not have an optimal level which can be achieved through supplementation.

Vitamin D is critical for human survival and can increase cognition, immune health, and bone health as well as have an impact on testosterone levels and other hormones.

Other Supplements – There are many other supplement options out there with a variety of benefits, but I wanted to keep it simple. Above are the things that are very commonly agreed to be safe, have a positive impact on health and fitness, and are hard to overdose with controlled supplementation.  Something to keep in mind: if you are going to supplement vitamins and minerals, you should know where you levels stand from your diet.  There are negative effects from overdosing, so you should not simply take a multi-vitamin, or other supplements, unless you know that you should be taking.  Magnesium became a super popular supplement a few years ago and there were a lot of people overdosing through supplementation because they were getting plenty of it through their diet.  A simple blood test can help you determine where your levels are and consuming real foods should be the first place you start to resolve any deficiencies.