If you are weight lifting or going to the gym on the regular you probably have thought about taking supplements. But which supplements should be taking? What are the essentials or do you need to take a whole bunch of different colourful pills and powders? Well at it turns out, you don’t need to take every colourful pill and powder out there but there are some essential supplements that every lifter needs… and a few you should avoid!
Below are 5 essential supplements every woman need and 3 you can do without!
Please do note that each person’s individual needs and goals are different and you may need a few more supplements than the ones listed below. For example, those with low energy may need extra B vitamins while those looking to boost fat loss may wanna look into supplements like L-Carnitine. I would suggest consulting a well researched plan like this one or speaking to a holistic nutritionist to identify any additional supplements you may need.
- A quality protein supplement: By high quality we mean a protein powder that has been manufactured in the “healthiest” way possible. For example, micro filtered New Zealand Whey protein has been proven be “cleaner” than many of the other whey proteins out on the market. You wanna look for brands who are transparent, use little to no additives, are free of aspartame/ xylitol and fake sugars, and are derived from hormone/ antibiotic free milk. Some good brands include Diesel by Perfect Nutrition and Kaizen’s Natural’s Isolated Whey Protein. Also don’t dismiss vegan, plant based protein supplements! They are just as effective and nutritious as whey based proteins. Good plant based protein brands include Vega, Sunwarrior, Sprouted Protein and Bodylogix Vegan protein.
- An effective BCAA supplement: BCAA stand for Branched Chained Amino Acids. They are essential amino acids that are found in our food. These amino acids are the ones that are most important for muscle maintenance and growth. Supplementing with them is recommended as they help you maintain your lean muscle mass, gain muscle, and recover from tough workouts. Stick with BCAAs that are free of any additives, fake sugars and other junk like caffeine. You could however opt to buy a BCAA powder that is sweetened with stevia and include other supplements like CLA. Just make sure to read the labels and research the product before buying it!
- Digestive Enzymes: Often forgotten, digestive enzymes are super important for digestive health. If you experience bloating, gas, constipation or generally feel like you are not fully digesting your meals, try having digestive enzymes before your meals. It’s one thing to eat clean, nutritious food, it’s’ another thing to digest it and ensure your body is actually absorbing all that good food!
- A multivitamin: Due to the poor manufacturing, harvesting and farming practices, the levels of vitamins and minerals in our food is diminished. Chances are you are probably not getting enough vitamins from your diet! It’s super important to invest in a quality multivitamin. Be careful though! Not all multivitamins are not created equal! Best place to find higher quality multivitamin is at your naturopath’s office or a health food store that carries products that are made more ethically. Some good brands include Usana, NOW, and Douglas Laboratories.
- Fish Oils (Omega 3) : Essential fats in the form of omega 3 (which are found in fish oil) come with a slew of benefits. Fish oil can help improve your cardiovascular health, is good for your joints, can lower cholesterol, help manage weight, improve brain function… the list is endless! With so many good benefits, it’s often the most recommend supplement aside from multivitamins. Everyone could use a dose! Like other supplements make sure to buy a quality brand like Nutra Sea.
…and the three supplements to avoid:
- Fat burners: Fat burners are loaded with stimulants like caffeine, taurine and ephedrine. For this reason they can be dangerous to take! They also contain a concoction of other herbs that can interfere with how your body functions. Recently, a few well known brands of fat burners were found to contain BMPEA and picamilon, which mimic amphetamines! I personally have never been a fan of such products and would recommend you avoid all fat burners.
- Pre- workouts: Similar to fat burners they are often loaded with stimulants which can cause jitters, anxiety and heart palpitations. Best to avoid these products! If you really need an extra boost pre-workout try caffeine (rather a caffeine pill or a strong cup of coffee) and perhaps L-carnitine and some BCAAs during….
- Gimmicky products featured on infomercials like Garcinia Cambogia: Let’s face it, those infomercials that promise quick weight loss without a change in eating habits are just too good to be true! Which leads me to say, if anything SOUNDS too good to be true, be wary! Do your research! Often times the products featured on these infomercials don’t contain much of the active ingredient for them to actually work! So in the end you end up paying money for fillers.
Remember, in the end supplements are meant to complement a good diet, like the one here! Do not rely on any supplement to save you from bad eating habits and an unhealthy diet. Focus your energy and your efforts on eating well, making good choices and training hard and use supplement as as means to assist you in that.