Monday, February 16, 2015

6 Essential Supplements: Supplement Series Part 2

Part 1 of this Supplement Series helped define who needs to supplement and more importantly, WHY. This section will help identify the Top Six Supplements that the Post-Grad Athlete might consider to create a nutrition “insurance policy” to cover the losses of nutrients found in even the most nutrient dense super foods.

There are 6 areas where most people fall short when it comes to nutrition. Even the most conscientious healthy eater will have good days and bad days. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the majority of Americans are falling terribly short on the bad days and even the good days are marginal.

If you fall in one of those categories (I know I do), then consider adding one or more of the following supplements on your bad days or daily as a nutrition “insurance” on your good days. Working in Athletics, you might think I’m surrounded by healthy food—but NOPE! I’m mostly surrounded by deep fried foods, hamburgers and high fat dinners that people who attend sporting events want to eat. Even the best healthy eating plan can come crashing down if I’m not well prepared before a game. So to keep my body running at peak performance, I rely on some supplements.

The following are what I consider essential!

  1. Protein: While lean meats or plant based proteins are best, a high quality protein supplement is a real time saver for the busy post-grad. The average woman needs 20-30 grams of protein and men should get about 40 grams. I know I fall short almost every day because I don’t have time to have chicken or eggs with every meal (my go-to’s). Soy based products are off of my list as well, because I’m at high risk for developing estrogen-based breast cancer (soy has estrogen in it and can increase a woman’s blood value by a lot). What’s left? A protein supplement that is NOT soy based.
  2. Fish Oil: Our body functions best with a diet that consists of a 1:1 Omega 6:Omega3 balance. Seafood, wild game and some plants have a high Omega 3 profile. Because the SAD (Standard American Diet) includes high intake of corn/corn oil, soybeans/vegetable oil and factory farmed meat and poultry, most people end up with a 16:1 Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio. It’s no wonder so many people suffer from inflammation, heart disease and poor metabolism. Omega 3 fats also keep our cell membranes fluid, which is critical for brain function. All of these reasons make Fish Oil an essential supplement.
  3. Greens Supplement: You should be eating 5 or 6 cups of fruits and vegetables a day to meet BASIC nutrient needs. Falling short? A greens supplement will help fill in the gap.
  4. Multivitamin: Most people are at least marginally deficient in several micronutrients. A multivitamin is a no-brainer.
  5. Protein+Carbohydrate Recovery Drink: If you are involved in high intensity exercise (a gym rat for at least an hour, or a HIIT workout, or PLYO) your body will recover faster and improve athletic performance when you use a recovery drink after those workouts. It will replenish glycogen, decrease breakdown of muscle and increase protein synthesis. In other words—it will make you feel better in less time after you workout, it will preserve the muscle that you do have and help create more.
  6. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): BCAAs are also recommended during workouts when fat loss/muscle preservation is the goal. If you’re interested in losing FAT, opt for the BCAA’s instead of a recovery drink.

So, at first glance this list might be a little overwhelming. When you break it down, its actually just filling the gaps that are meant to be provided from a diet rich in nutrient dense whole foods. A diet that is increasingly difficult to create in today’s busy over-processed world.

In Part 3, I’ll share a product that I personally use (and why) as well as some other product recommendations from myself (Registered Dietitian).


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