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Supplements - Insurance for Achieving Your Goals...or Just Hype?

Brian Calkins - NSCA-CPT, ACE | Cincinnati, Ohio

Eating right in combination with a well structured exercise routine is the most effective path toward long term, permanent enhancement in your health, fitness, and achievement of your weight loss goals.  But eating right takes time and often takes some advanced preparation on your part.

With today’s busy lifestyles finding that time to prepare your meals in advance can be a challenge.  And since many of the foods we eat are highly refined and processed, they lack many of the nutrients that are essential for optimal health and accomplishing your goals.

That’s where nutritional supplements can play a supportive role in helping you accomplish your goals.  But…


Do You Really Need Nutritional Supplements?

No! You do not need to take nutritional supplements to accomplish your goals provided you can get quality whole-food meals every 3 – 3 ½ hours.  Supplementation is always a second priority to consuming real food. If real food is not assessable or convenient, then supplementation is a simple & effective way to insure you’re getting all the nutrition you need.


What Supplements Can Do For You

The labels of many nutritional supplements make some pretty outrageous claims.  And the advertisements on TV and in magazines lead you to believe that supplements will help you shed pounds of unwanted body fat seemingly overnight. 

As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s not to say that supplements have no place in a balanced fitness or weight loss program.  There are some that are well suited to support you in accomplishing your goals.

For the most part though, supplements are just that…a way to supplement extra nutrients into your diet.  If you’re not eating a healthy diet already, taking a random array of vitamins isn’t going to work some kind of miracle on your body or your metabolism.

As your first priority you should strive to eat a diet that’s full of healthy macro-nutrients (lean proteins, starchy whole grain carbs and fibrous carbs), and micro-nutrients (vitamins, and minerals). Supplementation should be used as "an addition to”, not as a replacement for normal food.

If you always seem to skip breakfast (which often is the most valuable meal of the day) a good meal replacement supplement or a high quality protein powder will add to your total nutrition and potentially enhance the results you see from your exercise and dietary changes.


How to Choose the Right Supplements for Your Goals

There are, of course, many different kinds and brands of supplements on the market today.  They range in price, quality, and availability so it can be hard to decide which supplements you should be using.

First, be careful of randomly selecting supplements based on advertising or label claim.  They all have fine print on their labels that read, “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA”.  That simply means that the claims made haven’t been evaluated by a governing body.

Does that mean that they don’t work like the labels and advertisements claim?  Yes and no.  A few supplement companies are very reputable and truly provide the highest quality products.  Many, on the other hand, are not so reputable and provide inferior products with much less nutrients than listed on the labels.

So, above all, purchase only supplements that are made by reputable manufacturers AND that have substantial independent research that supports the product.

Secondly, you should only use supplements that add to your overall nutrition.  A high quality vitamin-rich supplement that comes by way of “live food” will insure you get all the vitamins, minerals & antioxidants you need to maintain optimal health.

Live antioxidants” go a long way to help fight off damage caused by free radicals, and also have been shown to help prevent some diseases including many forms of cancer.  They make a great insurance policy regardless of your goals.

Meal replacement powders are another great choice, whether your goal is to lose unwanted body fat or to gain some extra lean muscle tissue.  Meal replacement powders are simply a powder that mixes with water or milk to make a great tasting and highly nutrient dense shake.

Meal replacement powders are a very convenient and a cost effective way to ensure you get a quality breakfast (or any meal for that matter) while providing your body with all the calories, protein, and other nutrients it needs for energy and goal achievement.

A quality meal replacement can also make a great post-workout recovery drink to as it can supply your body with a lot of high quality protein (to repair the damage caused by exercise) and the specific carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals you lose during an intense workout.

In general, I often recommend meal replacement powders & “live” antioxidants to clients, especially if they cannot get to real food every 3 – 3 ½ hours.

If you have any questions about nutritional supplements, please ask.  We’ll be happy to give you clear direction on what supplements to use, how to use them, and which companies provide the highest quality supplements that can fit with your goals and into your budget. Below are 3 nutrition resources that I not only recommend without reservation, but also use on a regular basis.

Supplements Recommended by Register Dietitians, Personal Trainers & Medical Professionals:

  1. For Meal Replacements – Click Here
  1. For “Live” Fruits & Veggies (fibrous carbs) – Click Here
  1. For Prepared Fitness & Weight Loss Food Delivered to Your Door – Click Here