Supplements are now beginning to play a more important role than ever in the life of not only the elite athlete, but also the regular health conscious person who is looking to achieve results the quickest way possible. Walk into Tesco or Boots and they stock a huge variety of supplements claiming to boost performance, lose weight, add muscle and increase energy etc. Pick up any fitness or health related magazine and you will be bombarded with ‘wonder’ supplements, in some magazines over half of it is taken up with advertising trying to sell their latest magic pill.
Before talking more about the ‘core’ supplements that we do recommend it’s absolutely paramount that you don’t run before you can walk. The first port of call with any goal, whether that be improving performance or losing weight, is always diet. We have seen many clients turn to supplement s and throw money in that direction first before addressing their diet. Supplements may give you a 10-15% boost, but your daily food choices will have a much bigger impact on how close you come to achieving that goal you have, so we at Cre8 Fitness will always advise you on your diet before supplements.
When it comes to supplements it’s always best to start off with the ‘core’ supplements that are going to give you the most bang for your buck. First of all we recommend testing your HCL levels (click here to read more), this will help with knowing what your body is breaking down and therefore what nutrients & minerals its absorbing, as well as helping to identify what other supplements you may need. If you are taking supplements without knowing your HCL levels it may be pointless in taking them in the first place.
At Cre8 Fitness we believe that fish oil supplementation is key to your daily routine, whether your goal is to lose body fat or gain lean muscle. There are two primary reasons why we believe this to be the essential supplement, 1. We generally do not eat enough fish containing high enough levels of omega 3′s. 2. The fish we do eat can be of poor quality by the time it reaches us and we actually consume it…..unless you live in Norway or Alaska! Be aware that there are many different fish oil brands on the market; some do contain high levels of mercury so always chose quality over quantity when it comes to your body. For those of you interested in positively and optimally altering body composition and maximising our training efforts as well as general health, click here to read the many benefits of fish oil.
How can it be true that ordinary nutrition is not enough? It’s partly a quantity-versus-quality problem. Most of us aren’t eating enough of the right things. We eat a lot of what we would call overly processed, hormone pumped, artificially enhanced flavoured, simple carbohydrate and refined sugar foods that contain large quantities of trans fats. Because of this, it may not surprise you that most of us suffer from some form of mineral or vitamin deficiency. You may not be aware how much impact a trace mineral deficiency can have until you’ve started a supplement regime and find that you have more energy and awareness, and fewer aches and pains. For the human body to complete all the tasks it has in a normal day, it must be given a wide and complex variety of vital nutrients. Becoming deficient in any one of these essential vitamins or minerals causes a breakdown of the metabolic pathway that produces optimum efficiency and performance goes down quick. A good multi-vitamin taken at the right dosage will help improve your mineral levels of zinc, magnesium, selenium, potassium amongst others. In addition to this, vitamins such as D3, B vitamins, C, A will be boosted, hence why a good multi-vitamin can be instrumental in health and enhancing your efforts in the gym. Making sure you take a high-potency multi-vitamin/multi-mineral formula may help ensure the presence of those essential nutrients necessary for thousands of metabolic reactions. Factors to be considered include the different dosage levels for men and women, due to the different nutrients their bodies need to do what they do every day.
A lot of people use magnesium as a natural relaxant as it reduces cortisol and in doing so helps you get to sleep as well as improve the quality of sleep. However magnesium has an abundant number of other positive effects on the body and here are some of the reasons why we suggest magnesium should be supplemented. Sweat loss during intense exercise depletes magnesium – so the more you exercise the more of a deficiency you can create. Magnesium is the ultimate stress management nutrient and supports the adrenal glands that get worn out from stress. Magnesium allows the body to burn fuel and creates energy in an efficient cycle during exercise that does not lead to lactic acid production. Magnesium activates enzymes that control digestion, absorption, and the utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. When sufficient levels of magnesium are present in the body cholesterol will be limited to necessary functions such as the hormone production. Magnesium converts Vitamin D into its active form so that it can help calcium absorption. Magnesium is nature’s calcium regulator; too much calcium entering cells can cause symptoms of heart disease & asthma. Magnesium helps protect cells against environmental neurotoxins.
If you don’t get enough zinc you could see symptoms including, poor sleep, weakened immune system, low sex drive & loss of appetite to name but a few. We carry out zinc tests on clients and find 95% of people tested to be zinc deficient. Zinc is one of the most crucial ‘trace elements’ that you need in your body. This is used by your cells in order to help your immune system, protein synthesis, wound healing (it’s crucial for the makeup of our plasma membranes), cell reproduction, conception and hormone balance (zinc plays a role in maintaining our testosterone balance). It is a powerful antioxidant, helping to prevent cancer, DNA synthesis, smell and taste (zinc is a great supplement for those with difficulties smelling), growth, ovulation and sperm count. An all round great supplement.
Vitamin D is processed in the skin when we are exposed to sun light, and is a common deficiency in adults. A recent study at McGill University in Montreal has shown that in adults, vitamin D deficiency leads to fatty accumulation in muscle tissue and lower levels of maximal strength. Vitamin D levels were found to be strongly correlated to the percentage of fat in muscle, with lower D levels resulting in higher fat content. Vitamin D has shown in scientific research to provide the following benefits; improved bone health, reduced skin problems like psoriasis, prevention and/or remedy of multiple sclerosis, reduction in cancer risk, improved blood sugar levels and reduced insulin resistance, improved neurological conditions including depression and bipolar disorder, enhanced immune defence against cold, flu and other infections, improved muscle function, increased ability to lose body fat. Vitamin D3 is both a vitamin and a hormone. It acts as a vitamin when it binds with calcium for proper absorption. Humans cannot digest calcium without adequate amounts of Vitamin D3.
Supplements can play a role in achieving optimal health and body composition; however the first things first, get your diet in order. The key is in the title ‘supplement’, they are there to supplement your nutritional needs and goals.
While some supplements are great and do exactly what they are designed to do there are many out there that do not. Always choose supplements wisely as not all supplements are made with the intention of boosting your health but only boosting the financial profits of the company that sell them. Take magnesium for example – many magnesium supplements are made up with a form of magnesium oxide which the body can’t absorb.
As mentioned always go for quality when it comes to supplements and take the correct dosage – this is a common mistake with fish oil for example, taking 1g of fish oil p/day and expecting to see positive changes in body composition. Dosage is dependent on body fat with a maintenance dose further down the line sitting around 10g p/day. Do not guess when it comes to supplements – find out what the correct dosage is and it’s more than likely you will see the desired effect.