Supplement talk can be a slippery slope depending on who you are talking to. There are literally thousands upon thousands of different supplements in this world. We have hundreds of companies trying to figure out the next “shredder” pill to sell. Needless to say, things can get a bit confusing when trying to decide what works and what doesn’t. Here’s the thing: if something actually works good at putting on muscle or burning fat, it’s probably illegal. What we are left with, then, is trying to figure out what products work “good enough” and have been proven to show consistent, long term results.
Before we get into the list, I want to tell you what you will not see. You will not see any type of fat incinerator, fat blocker, carb blocker or anything of the like. These products can lead to you believe that you can still eat junk and lose body fat. But nothing…yes, NOTHING…can overcome a bad diet. You can’t out train a bad diet, can’t out supplement a bad diet, can’t out run a bad diet…you HAVE to change your nutrition habits to be successful in your health and wellness goals…period!
With that said, IF you have your nutrition on lock, there are vitamins and minerals (or combos) that have a CORRELATION to fat lose. But correlation is not always causation.
Now, let’s get into our list. This is simply a list of supplements that have been proven to help with your overall health and wellness goals. Again, understand, to get the maximum benefit from this list your nutrition must be LOCKED DOWN! Supplements are named as such for a reason!
At this point everyone has at least heard of fish oil. This one is probably the most debatable (in this writer’s mind) also. Not because it doesn’t do its job. Because quantities can vary so much from person to person and quality is insanely variable from product to product. Fish oil is not something we take because we have a fish oil deficiency. Deficiency implies that our body requires it, and we don’t require fish oil to function per se. We do, however, require a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. And considering our world it smothered with Omega 6 fatty acids, fish oil is a simple way to even the playing field. Shoot for 4-6 tablets a day, depending on your weight. And use common sense when it comes to quality. If you’re buying 200 tablet bottles and getting 1 free and only paying $15, good chance there’s plenty of stuff in there that you don’t want.
2. Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)
This is one that, unless you’re in the bodybuilding crowd, you probably have never heard of or considered. BCAA’s are primarily used for muscle damage repair after resistance training. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscles (and of life in general), and ingesting them around your workout will help with repair and growth (if you’re eating correctly). However, BCAAs do much more than build muscles. For instance, studies have shown that BCAAs (Leucine in particular) can improve insulin resistance (can lead to diabetes) and antioxidant stress (can lead to cancer). And if you’re trying to lose weight and cutting back on your carb intake, this can be your diamond-in-the-ruff. BCAAs help to regulate blood glucose levels, which can help rid your body of sugar cravings. Shoot for 5-15g around your training.
3. Creatine Monohydrate
Yup, I said it…creatine. This is one of the most debated (amongst the public) and researched supplements around. Creatine has been referenced in the same sentences as steroids and growth hormone. It is important to understand what creatine IS and IS NOT in order to understand why can benefit you. First, creatine is NOT a steroid or growth hormone or any other anabolic substance…it’s just not. Creatine is more like a vitamin or mineral than a steroid. Not because we need it to survive, like fish oil. But because of how our body utilizes it to enhance certain functions and processes. There have been no adverse effects consistently found, even with the kidneys, when consuming creatine. Creatine is primarily used by athletes and weight lifters to enhance strength and hypertrophy. You also need to be eating right to achieve these things (notice a pattern?!). However, MUCH evidence suggests that creatine improves cognitive function AND it has been shown to increase immune system function. So, this supplement is much more than a muscle builder!
Now it’s up for you to decide if any of these supplements can help with your health and wellness goals. I’m sure you noticed that protein powder was not on this list. This topic will be extensively covered in another post. For now, know that whole foods always trump powders and bars. Thanks for hanging in there!