1.24.2021 – Ultimate Guide to Supplements
The Ultimate Guide to Supplements
by Traveling Trainers Nutrition Coach Alex Andujar
January 24, 2021 – So you’ve decided to start a new fitness journey, huh? First off, congratulations on making the decision to better your overall health! Obviously, the next step is to waltz into a place like GNC or Supplement Superstore and drop some serious coin on various supplements, right? The walls are lined with all sorts of products. It’s like Willy Wonka’s Factory but for fitness enthusiasts!
Not so fast.
While loading up on supplements may seem like a logical first step in your journey, there are likely a lot of them you can do without. I’ll break down why in this ultimate supplement guide.
Powders, Pills, and Shakes Oh My!
When I first started working out, I did exactly what I talked about above. I waltzed right into a GNC and my immediately spun around Exorcist style. There were so many products. I had no idea what I wanted or needed. I simply knew people who worked out took supplements.
After consulting with the sales clerk, I walked away with my wallet a lot lighter and my hands a lot fuller. If I recall correctly, I bought everything she recommended which included a pre-workout, a giant bag of mass gainer powder, Men’s vitamins, and of course protein powder.
I blindly trusted the clerk not actually knowing if I needed any of those things. She said I did, so that’s what I bought month after month after month.
That pre-workout? It made my skin feel like it was crawling with bugs. I hated it.
The mass gainer shake? It was so thick and gross. There were SEVERAL times when choking it down that I had to pause to make sure it didn’t come back up.
How about the protein powder? Well, that was okay, but it was also incredibly hard to consume post-workout because the mass gainer shake left me feeling SO full.
And the vitamins? Those were fine, just pricey.
I hated the products, but I kept taking them because that’s what I was told I needed. I never saw any of the gains these products promised. Hundreds of dollars down the drain paired with the frustration of not seeing progress.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything like an ultimate supplement guide to help cut through the noise of what I ACTUALLY needed.
Do You Need Supplements?
While adding supplementation into your routine may seem like a good idea, hold tight. Supplements are just that – meant to SUPPLEMENT your regular diet.
Far too many people look at supplements as a way to band-aid the things they aren’t getting in their life.
Don’t want to eat fruits and veggies? Just take a multivitamin or use a greens powder!
Aren’t interested in eating lean protein with each meal? Whip up a protein shake!
Wanting to lose weight fast? Just take CLA or do one of the many sham Detoxes out there! Spoiler alert: neither of those things will help you lose weight fast.
Don’t want to go outside and get some natural sunlight/Vitamin D? It’s cool. Just pop a pill!
I firmly believe we need to start looking at supplements differently. They are meant to fill in the gaps in our diet, not replace things like they are so often used for.
I bet you thought you were going to get a comprehensive breakdown of various supplements in what’s dubbed the ultimate supplement guide, didn’t you?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here’s the down and dirty secret of supplements: until you get your diet in line most supplements are unnecessary.
What supplements actually matter? Let’s take a look.
The Actual Ultimate Supplement Guide
Now, I hope you don’t think that I think all supplements are useless. I don’t. I think most people just need to get their diet in line and based on the gaps they still see add the supplements they deem necessary.
That being said, there are a few supplements that I believe are okay to use right off the bat. So what’s on my ultimate supplement guide?
While I believe you should get most of your protein from whole food sources, I know how hard that can be sometimes. The more protein you need in your diet, the harder it becomes to consume in whole food form.
Enter protein powder.
Quite honestly some people in the fitness industry don’t even consider protein powder to be a supplement as it’s closer to actual food than it is anything else.
I’m a big fan of using protein powder in a morning shake or smoothie. Smoothies are a great way to get in a good amount fruits, veggies, and protein. You can even level up your smoothies up with some healthy fats to get the complete package.
Another great use is a regular ol’ protein shake as a snack in between meals. Most protein powders are 24-30g protein per scoop which is a solid amount.
And before you ask: no, there is not a best brand of protein powder in my opinion. Find a brand you like with flavors you like and stick with it. Simple as that.
While I’d love to sit here and think you’re getting ALL of the vitamins and minerals you need from food sources alone, it’s highly unlikely. That’s why I’m fine with you taking a multivitamin.
Again, make sure you’re eating a well-rounded diet filled plenty of fruits and vegetables so you can get a lot of your micronutrients naturally. A multivitamin will simply help fill in the gaps for anything you’re not consuming or not consuming enough of.
Like protein powders, there really isn’t a “best” multivitamin. Whatever vitamin you choose, make sure it’s USP Verified. USP is an independent party that tests the quality of vitamins to ensure you’re going to get what the vitamin says you’ll get.
Creatine is the most researched supplement in the fitness industry and has been deemed to be 100% safe and effective. Feel free to do your own research, but trust me on this one.
Taken before a workout, creatine can help your muscles generate a little extra oomph. They’ll give them that extra little push when you start to fatigue. Some people like to take it afterwards with their post-workout shake which is also fine.
Just like the others, there isn’t a best brand here. You will want to look out for one big factor – that you’re buying 100% Creatine Monohydrate. Most creatine supplements are pretty cheap and last a good long time since you only need 5g per day.
What About Everything Else?
Right about now you’re probably saying to yourself, “Ultimate Supplement Guide? Dude talked about THREE supplements! That’s a pretty lame guide if you ask me!” And you’re right. But so am I.
Everything else isn’t necessary. Here are a few that I’ll quickly dispel.
You don’t need pre-workout. What you need is better sleep. Think you still need to spend a bunch of money on pre-workout? Go look at the first ingredient on most tubs. I can all but guarantee the first ingredient is caffeine. Instead of spending money on tubs of pre-workout just drink coffee before a workout.
Think you need a greens powder? For sure step up your veggie eating game. Experiment with different ways of cooking and seasoning them before you say, “But I don’t like veggies!!!”
Fat Burning Pills? Yeah. Those don’t work and are 100% a waste of money. At least the others I listed above do something. Eh, I take that back. Most fat burning pills are glorified laxatives so do with that what you will.
I can go on and on about countless others, but this is a blog post so it has to end at some point.
If there’s anything I hope you take away it’s that you don’t have to worry about supplementation, especially if you’re first getting started on your journey. Instead, focus on the habits that will create the biggest effect for change such as daily exercise, a diet high in whole foods, and consistently good sleep.
Those things will go a lot farther for you than supplements will. I know the ultimate supplement guide wasn’t exactly what you were probably expecting, but I hope you this post saves you some money and helps clarify what you do/don’t need.
Still have questions about supplements? Reach out to us and we’d be happy to help!