My (not-so) Essential Supplements
Starting out with this blog post, I have to say outright; Supplements should be the last thing anyone should consider using to improve their diet quality.
Address food first; improve food quality, vary your portion sizes, and aim to be consistent as often as possible.
A Supplement should always supplement the diet, it should never be used as an easy way out.
Having said that, here’s a few of the essentials that I make sure I keep stocked
The macronutrients get a lot of attention, but we need to make sure we target micronutrients in our diet too. They’re essentials for the usual bodily functions that we all know about; immune function, water balance, energy production, detoxification & digestion. But deficiencies in any of the micros could also impair performance in training and our ability to recover.
There’s 30+ micros we need to get from food, so it’s near impossible to manage them each day. This is where a multivitamin can be a nice failsafe.
Quality of your diet should always be targeted first, include lots of greens and plenty of high quality protein sources; but beyond this the odd few micros might not get the attention they need.
- Whey Protein
In the context of improving body composition (building muscle, dropping fat), protein is a very useful nutrient. Even in the context of overall health, if we can preserve more muscle mass in to old age, overall quality of life can improve too.
Unfortunately protein tends to be the one nutrient that most people have trouble consuming. When it comes to high quality sources (like chicken, beef, fish), we need to buy it, prep it, cook it, store it, and then actually sit down and eat it.
I always encourage my clients to make the effort to create these habits, but when it comes to eating 2.2g/kg+ of protein each and every day, occasionally we won’t have the time.
Whey Protein can be a very useful supplement to bump up protein intake here.
The reason I picked Whey in particular, is because it’s probably one of the best protein supplements on the market. Essential Amino Acids? It’s got all of them. High BCAA content? Absolutely. High Leucine Content? Yep, the highest. Plus it’s digested and absorbed quickly, and it’s also got a really high biological value; in a nutshell this means we can absorb almost all of the protein we consume from Whey.
Honestly, it’s probably one of the most useful recovery supplements you could buy, and for convenience sake alone it’s a good idea to have some stocked up.
MyProtein tends to be my go-to brand; there’s usually great specials on the site, so you could get a month’s supply for €30 on a good day.
- Omega 3
Omega 3 does a huge amount of good for the body; it’s got anti-inflammatory properties, it can improve our cholesterol profile & blood sugar management, it aids in recovery and it’s even been shown to augment fat loss. So it does a whole lot for the body.
Omega 3 is an essential nutrient, which means we have to get it from food sources (the body can’t create it). Unfortunately, in general we don’t eat a whole lot of fatty fish in Ireland. There’s always exceptions, and if you are someone who makes the effort to eat Salmon, Mackeral or Anchovies, keep going!
For the rest of us, an Omega 3 supplement makes sense.
Brands like Eskimo Oil (found in most health food shops), GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil (occasionally there’s good deals in health shops), or Myprotein’s Omega 3 are all decent quality products.
Quality wise, the liquid versions tend to be a little better (and they’re better value too); but if you don’t like the idea of these the capsules are still a great choice.
Aaaaaand as far as essential supplements go; these are the only ones I would recommend having at home. It is possible to get everything we need from food, but that’s not to say we should act like a martyr to prove this point. If we have trouble consuming enough of a certain nutrient, that’s exactly what supplements are there for.
Hopefully this was some help to you!
If you take any of these supplements already let me know, or if you have any more questions about them let me know too!