I just wanted to throw up a quick lil post to respond to a recent reader question. Rachel, this one is for you! Oh and Michael, this may help to answer a least a bit of your question. 🙂
She asked me…
“hey, could you explain your vitamin schedule? which vits you take on each day? for example…are there some you take everyday, and some you only take once a week. thanks! xx”
Very interesting question and let me start with my basic (and quick to the point) belief on supplement and vitamins.
- They should only be used as what their name suggests. A SUPPLEMENT. In no way shape or form should they be used as a replacement for a healthy and balance diet. If you are deficient in something, than you take them. If you’re not, don’t bother because 1. they are $$$$ and 2. if you take something because you hear it is good for you from others, you may be doing more harm than good. Do your research and learn about something before jumping on the “I take this…” bandwagon.
- Despite my first point, there are some supplements that I believe to be important for anyone and everyone regardless of their diet. This is because of the way that our food is grown/raised these days. They don’t carry the same nutrition boost as they used to. Therefore, those crucial components (omega fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, etc) that are said to be super high in certain types of food may not be as high as they once were.
- Don’t take supplements to try to correct an issue that is just ‘too hard” or “too much work” to do otherwise. What I mean is, don’t run out to buy a fat burner because you don’t want to take a hard look at your diet and exercise routine. Don’t buy the latest and greatest pre-workout because you desperately need some form of motivation to workout. I will stop there because I really dislike pre-workouts and can start ranting about them…
- For supplements that are just beneficial to the body overall, but not required, buy what you can afford and what you know you will use.
Okay, I think I have more to say than that, but I will move into what I take (and a lil reasoning on why I take it) so that I can keep this post short.
***I take the exact same things every day with the exception of the intra- and post workout supplementation on rest days***
- Scoop of Pranin Whole Foods Porto Bello D powder. This goes into my oats and gives me a lil boost of vitamin D every day. Not only is vitamin D crucial for bone health and integrity, but there is a lot of great new research on the positive role of vitamin D in a number of chronic diseases (MS, heart disease, etc)[read more]. It is also thought to give you more energy as studies begin to look at it’s association with mitochondrial activity (your energy creation center for cells!). One study found that recovery times following muscle contractions were significantly reduced if Vitamin D was adequate, while they decreased mitochondrial function was found in those subjects with low Vitamin D levels. [source]
Do I recommend Vitamin D for everyone? Not sure as I haven’t done enough research on it yet.
- 1 capsule of Natural Factors Women’s Multi Probiotic with Cranrich. This is taken right after my breakfast. I was told by my nutritionist to begin taking a probiotic (as well as many dr.s that I saw..) when my tummy went crazy 1/2 a year ago to try to calm my digestive distress down. Although this is not really new knowledge, I was really unaware of the importance of a healthy gut flora until looking into it more following my ‘attack’ so to speak. Probiotics are now flying off the shelves as we begin to learn that our polluted environment is tampering with the careful balance of bacteria in our guts and causing quite a large number of digestive issues in more people than ever before. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and a biggie, the medications we take, all kill many beneficial bacteria in our gut and have been hypothesized to lead to many health issues. Aside from just the issues associated with digestion (nutrient absorption, gastric upset, reflux, etc), poor gut flora has also been linked with chronic disease (Chrohn’s, IBS, IBD, etc [read more also here]) and even basic functioning (lack of energy, immunity, repair, etc). It’s quite surprising how much influence your belly has on the body. While I can’t say that all of the positive changes with my tummy are due to the probiotic, I can say that the cranrich strain has essentially gotten rid of my UTI issues (sorry to the men…) that I was chronically experiencing.
Do I recommend a probiotic for everyone? Yes. If you can afford it, it’s definitely something that should be a staple in everyone’s fridge.
1/4 scoop Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey (various flavours). I put this in my oats for a bit more protein and some nice flavour. The extra boost of protein is important right before a workout as it provides your body with those amino acids that will be used to rebuild torn muscles during your training. A quick digesting protein source is also beneficial first thing in the morning as your body has not only been fasting all night, but was also spending that time to repair and rebuild tissues and muscle. As a result, it’s a good idea to supply your body with a source of protein to replenish those amino acids for your body to use.
Do I recommend Whey for everyone? For your breakfast or pre-workout, no. Whey is great for a fast digesting protein BUT for pre-workout or just simply breaking your fast, any quality protein would be just fine.
- 1 scoop of Rivalus Post RX. This is the cleanest brand of BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) that I have found on the market (no artificial sweeteners to upset my stomach) that I use to protect the muscle I have while I’m still trying to find out how much fuel (calories) my body needs to keep on and put on weight. How? Basically, BCAA’s which are meant to leave a constant flow of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in your blood stream during and/or after your workout to ensure that your body has the building blocks it needs (amino acids) to repair those muscles you just tore during your workout. If you don’t have those building blocks available, you body will begin to break down your own tissues/muscles for growth. This is catabolism (“breaking down”) and not a good process as it will leave you spinning your wheels in the gym. In taking these I have found that I have been able to spare the muscle that I have gained (and possible put on more of with it’s help!) while still trying to gain weight.
Do I recommend BCAAs for everyone? Again, not sure. I would have originally said no because I think you should only spend the money is you are unable to reach your calorie requirements AND are finding that you are loosing muscle mass while trying to bulk up
I now believe that those extra aminos may be able to help you build and sustain muscle growth even if you have an adequate diet AND they are especially crucial for those who choose to train fasted (Intermittent Fasters), whether that be fasted cardio or weight training. ***Other opinions are welcome! I’m still learning on this one***
- 1/2 scoop of Schinoussa 100% New Zealand Probiotic Whey. I only do half a scoop simply because I bake it along with 2 egg whites for my post-workout muffin (remember my tummy doesn’t tolerate shakes). Whey is a super fast digesting protein source which is great for post-workout when you body is now going into muscle repair mode and needs a quick source of protein to use for growth.
Do I recommend Whey postworkout for everyone? If you are lifting heavy and will not be eating a good quality meal (good protein and carbs) following your training than a BIG YES! I still think that due to the efficiency of whey, it’s better for taking after workout over whole foods which require more breaking down and work from your already tired body BUT whole foods do work as well. ***If you’re vegetarian or vegan, whole foods vs protein really doesn’t make much of a difference in my opinion as both will require further breaking down (vegan proteins have higher fat and fiber contents). I would recommend egg protein, as it has the highest protein quality ranking (aside from soy), or brown rice and/or pea protein for vegans (sprouted is best) over any others. I would advise against soy due to hormonal issues and GMO risk. Check out this article for some interesting info.***
- 1 scoop Pranin Purefood Acerola C. This is a vitamin C supplement, which is also baked into my post-workout protein muffin, that I received as a sample from my training BUT I will probably continue to use it due to the many benefits of taking vitamin C after a hard training session. Vitamin C has wonderful antioxidant properties to combat those free radicals in your body. Following a hard training session, your body releases these free radicals which can cause cell damage [Read more]. With that in mind, taking a lil extra vitamin C directly after my workout is just one of the ways I try to bring my body back to homeostasis (balance) and protect it from the harmful byproducts of an intense weight training session. Yes, even good things can do bad things. Vitamin C is also depleted during times of stress (mental or physical) so when you are working out, you are actually using up some of your Vitamin C because your body is in a stressed state. Once again, I take some to bring it back up.
Do I recommend Vitamin C for everyone? It’s great for you, but no. If you can afford it, go for it. If not, there are other staples that I would recommend spending your $ on first.
- 1 full dropper of Trophic Liquid Super Potent Chlorophyll. Once again this is added to my post workout protein muffin as a way of re-balancing (at least a lil bit) out any negative affects of an intense workout. In this case, the chlorophyll is a very potent alkalizing agent that will help to re-balance the body’s acidity levels. I have mentioned before that your body becomes very acidic when you exercise (I learned that in my LifeWatchers course at work), especially if you are workout out intensely, and because the body doesn’t like to run in an acidic state (has been said to lead to inflammation, which has been suspected to play a contributing role in a number of other chronic diseases) it’s only beneficial to combat that with something highly alkaline (or basic) to try to get the body back to the preferred pH levels (more alkaline or above 7). Of course, you can take this anytime of the day and how ever often you want as, like I said, it’s only beneficial and probably impossible to overdo (become too alkaline) because with the standard American diet (high carbs, processed foods, protein, etc), it is often speculated that almost everyone is around 6-7 on the pH scale at least!
Do I recommend Chlorophyll for everyone? No. Do I recommend looking into alkalizing agents in the diet? YES. As mentioned, because our diets are high in acidic foods, ensuring you are getting alkalizing foods in your diet will only be beneficial. You can find a list of these foods online (as well as which are the most acidic) but in general, most vegetables are high, especially green ones (spinach, kale, etc), vinegars and citrus fruits (counter intuitive eh?), avocado, sprouts, herbs and spices (cayenne pepper and garlic are the highest), green tea, wheat grass and many gluten free whole grains (millet, quinoa)
AM or PM snack
- 2 tsp Barlean’s Omega Swirls Fish Oils (Double Potency-Key Lime Flavour). This is one supplement I highly recommend for EVERYONE! The benefits of fish oils (or more specifically, your essential omega fatty acids 3 and 6) are huge and despite eating a lot of fish, you may still be not getting as much as you think due to our polluted environment and the crappy ways we raise and catch fish these days. What I mean by essential is that these two crucial omega fatty acids are not made in the body. Instead we have to get them from food. The different forms of Omega 3 (DHA, EPA and ALA) and Omega 6 (many) are than used by the body for a number of extremely important bodily functions including brain and reproductive organ structure (DHA), normal cell functioning, cell signalling and much more. They also play a big role in inflammation, which is a hot topic of discuss these days. The Ratio of Omega 3 to 6 is important to know as well. Typically we are higher in Omega 6 than we should be which has been linked to inflammation in the body [more info]. Therefore it’s important to take note of how much omega 3’s you are getting from your diet. As a last point (I could go on forever..), the 3 forms of Omega 3’s are derived from different sources and although your body can convert between some of the forms, the efficiency of those conversions is limited and so it’s best to get them more directly. Fish, squid, krill and other marine oils are going to be the best source of EPA and the most important one of the 3, DHA (most abundant in the brain). For non-fish eating vegetarians and vegans there are some alternatives but you will not receive the same amounts. You can go with algae based omega supplements, which are the only ones I have found to contain any DHA (plant sources don’t generally have any) but I’m thinking are hard to find. Conversely, you can have flax, chia, hemp and some other plant based oils to receive the ALA to convert to EPA to then convert to DHA. The issue with this, as mentioned, is that this processes are very inefficient leading to a much smaller amount of DHA being made in the end even if you are taking in a lot of ALA (the limiting factor).
Do I recommend Fish oils for everyone? YES YES YES! Deficiency of your key omega fatty acids have been linked to a number health problems including inflammation, cognitive decline (DHA), cancer, reproductive consequences (DHA), Retinal issues (DHA), heart disease and more. If you don’t eat fish than I would strongly recommend getting a good quality supplement as you are are probably not getting enough ALA from your diet alone to make the other 2.
Night Time Snack
- 1 overly heaped scoop of Optimum Peanut Butter Chocolate Casein. This is part of my snack right before I go to bed and it’s what I look forward to every night. Casein is a slow digesting protein (as opposed to a fast digesting one like whey) that will fuel your body with a quality protein source (and thus amino acids) throughout the night and supply the tools needed to re-build those muscles you tore up in the gym that day.
Do I recommend Casein for everyone? No. It’s more expensive and not really necessary. Plain, unsweetened dairy including cottage cheese and yogurt (get greek for the most protein) also contain casein that you can substitute as a nightly snack. You can even use a faster digesting protein (whey) if it’s paired with a fat source (like a nut butter, coconut oil, etc). The fat source is digested slowly and thus will also slow the digestion of the protein in your body. For those with allergies to whey/casein and/or dairy OR those who just wish to eliminate dairy from the diet, supplementing with regular protein sources (meats, egg whites, fish, etc) or a vegan or vegetarian whey is just fine as a snack.
- 1-2 capsules of Natural Factors Full Spectrum High Potency Multi Enzyme. I began taking these at each of my three meals and nightly snack as a way to try to help tame my digestive distress a few months ago. Basically, enzymes are what the body uses to digest your food by breaking them down into smaller components so that the nutrients can be released for absorption. The body possesses many enzymes that break down specific foods and if you are lacking in a particular enzyme your ability to break down that food may be hindered, which can than potentially lead to digestive distress. Take, for example, someone with lactose intolerance. the reason they end up with bloating, gas, and other unpleasant symptoms following the consumption of dairy is due to the lack of the lactase enzyme (or just not enough of) to break down the lactose in dairy products. Due to this deficit, the lactose gets broken down using other processes (bacteria may do it) that result in those negative consequences. So with this in mind, I began to take them as a way of helping my stomach out in any way that I could and they do seem to help. Another big reason why I take these enzymes is because if you are not digesting your food properly you can actually end up being deficient in certain nutrients because lack of break down leads to the lack of nutrient release and thus absorption. This particular multi enzyme contains a number of enzymes responsible for the digestion of fats, carbs and protein.
Do I recommend Digestive Enzymes for everyone? No. If you are having stomach upsets following meals than perhaps it’s something to look into. Also, and this may be too much information BUT if you notice that your stool contains visible particles of food than it may also be a sign of poor digestion and thus potentially poor nutrient absorption. In this case, I would recommend trying one out.
Wow failed again at a short post. I just really wanted to get through the reasoning behind what I take so that you know that I’m not just shoveling in supplements like it’s my job. They actually have purpose as SUPPLEMENTATION to my diet and lifestyle as they should.
As as a super quick finisher…
My short list of supplements that I think are useless. ***Please discuss with me any that you feel are good for you as I would love to hear other opinions!***
- Fat burners. Did cavepeople use fat burners? Ok, kind of an extreme example but the whole point here is that they are most often unnatural and used as a quick fix when individuals want to shed some weight without taking a harsh look at their diet instead. There is no easy way out.
- Pre-workouts. Okay I may get some comments on this one but I don’t think they are necessary and thus you are wasting your money. If you can’t get yourself motivated solely with the thought of going to do something you love, than why are you doing it? Do you really love it if you need that extra jolt to light your fire?
- Greens supplements. Okay, for those who are constantly going, and I mean constantly, maybe I will let this one slide BUT for everyone else, why spend 50 bucks on a tub this stuff when you can buy a 2 dollar frozen package of greens for your smoothie or a bundle of kale to cook up for a meal? I don’t get it. Eat yo greens people. Don’t waste your money!
- Nitrous Oxide supplements. Used for a ‘pump’ that will make your veins dance (ie. get super vascular). Why do you need this to workout I ask? I have heard there are other benefits of taking these so if you have experience them (less fatigue, greater muscle endurance, etc) let me know.
- Green Tea or the Green Coffee Bean Extract. Oh Dr. Oz how you have created a monster. Do you know how many women I have seen come in to pick this
crapstuff up to help them “shed a couple.” Boy oh boy. Okay fast answer, it’s a perceived quick fix (does this stuff actually work? If it ‘does’ is it a placebo affect?) without the effort.
So there are probably more but I’m going to stop ranting now… 😛
I hope this helps Rachel 🙂