Why Supplement?

Why Supplement?

Feb 22, 2012

Should you take supplements? If so, which ones? And why?

I get asked all the time if supplements are needed to get great results with P90X or Insanity. People are trying to guage whether or not they want to shell out the $$ for a supplement if it’s not really necessary. And they may not understand why they should or shouldn’t take a supplement.

So are supplements “needed” to get great results?

Before I answer that question, let’s look at what supplementation really is. Supplements are just condensed food (or parts of food) meant to fill voids or holes in our diet. They are NOT drugs. And we shouldn’t think of supplements and drugs in the same category. Since supplements aren’t drugs, they are generally very safe. Some supplements (like protein, creatine, glutamine, electrolytes, and amino acids) can help fuel the body for natural muscle repair and growth following resistance training.

And other supplements are designed to make up for the fact that our diet isn’t complete in all areas. For instance, if we don’t eat enough foods to get our body’s daily requirement of a vitamin or mineral, we can get it through a vitamin supplement. Or if, due to strenuous exercise, we deplete our body’s stores of a certain substance (like glycogen, electrolytes, etc.), a supplement can replace that item more efficiently and quickly than using our diet to gradually restore the depleted substance over the course of a day (or several days).

So back to the question, are supplements necessary to get great results? NO!! Here’s the truth = You can still get great results with P90X or Insanity, even if you don’t supplement. However, I believe it’s harder and will take longer to get those great results. Why? Because if you are leaving holes in your nutrition, and taking longer to replenish the building blocks of your recovery and repair, you are slowing your results. And if you aren’t giving your muscles the fuel they need to repair and grow at their full potential, they won’t grow at their full potential. That’s just the facts.

So, if you can’t afford the supplements, should you just throw up your hands and quit? Of course not! But if you can afford a few key supplements that will most positively affect your body’s ability to run at maximum potential, should you consider adding them to your routine? Absolutely!

Below I will list a few of what I consider the best “Bang for your buck” supplements:

  • Shakeology
  • Whey Protein
  • Creatine
  • Vitamins (multi, B,C,D)
  • Essential fatty oils (fish/flaxseed, omega 3,6,9)
  • Recovery supplement
  • Pre-workout supplement

Since all of us are on a different budget, we may decide to take more or less supplements than those I just listed. And that’s fine. The total amount that I spend monthly to buy all of the supplements I listed above comes out to $220. But since 2 of those supplements (Shakeology and whey protein) take the place of food in my nutrition plan, I’m not actually spending $220 per month in addition to my normal food costs. It’s actually less (more like $90 per month on supplements that are purely for supplementation and not for nutrition). That may be way out of your range, or you may want to spend that much plus more for other supplements like thermogenics (fat burners), amino acids, etc.

What do some of the experts have to say about supplements?

Steve Edwards, a consultant for Beachbody, has addressed supplements and supplementation strategies several times. He sums it up well:

“Using proper supplementation strategy can help us live healthier and perform better, especially when we train hard and even more importantly when we’re dieting and exercising.

I break my supplements into basics and situational. Basic supplements are things I take pretty much all the time. Situational are those I use depending on what I’m doing. Let’s look at these first. In the same way that your diet should reflect what you are doing, so should the supplements you take.

For example, two of the most proven supplements in history are creatine monohydrate and 4 parts carb to one part protein recovery formulations. Neither are daily tonics. They are for given situations. Creatine is useful when you’re training hard and trying to build muscle or anaerobic strength. If those are not your goals it’s not only a waste but can interfere with your diet by encouraging your body to retain water to increase cell volume. Recovery formulations are only for when your glycogen stores are extinguished which takes hard exercise or starvation. No one eating well and exercising 30 minutes a day or less would ever need a recovery formulation. In fact, it would be terrible for you. However, when your training hard, eating lean, and using up your body’s limited glycogen stores the stuff is more valuable than gold.

Basics are things you should take everyday, like food. Since it came out Shakeology is on the top of my list. It’s like a healthy insurance policy in a glass.”

I hope this helps answer some of your questions about supplementation so that you can make a wise decision based on your own goals and your own budget.

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