The world of nutritional supplementation can be a very confusing one full of conflicting advice, vested interests, half truths, and smoke and mirror advertising gimmicks. Let us try to demystify the jargon and provide sound and rational advice that works for real people in real situations. We have tried and tested every product on ourselves, learnt all the lessons and experienced both mistakes and successes in the process. Our aim here is to provide sound guidance for the key ways to supplement your diet, whilst also educating you that not all of the same products are created equally. Comparing supermarket bought fish oil with its pharmaceutical grade equivalent is like comparing a Macdonalds burger flipper to Gordon Ramsey!
Effective nutritional supplementation is an absolute must for anyone seeking to optimise their health or athletic performance (the latter cannot exist without the former in any event). We are so beset with poor food choices and toxic levels of pollutants that even the fish in our rivers are turning into hermaphrodites, so any well meaning dietician who spouts the “three square meals a day” line is so hopelessly out of date as to be embarrassing. This article on the best supplements has been written to guide you that little bit further in making the right choices for you. It by no means gives the game away, and we reserve the right to hold back a number of industry secrets for our exclusive clients, but it does detail some of the best “bang for your buck” products currently on the market. Over time we will add more supplements or you can always contact us to learn how we would assess and prescribe the most relevant and effective supplement protocols for you unique biochemistry.
Despite the surplus of food that causes the western world so many problems with its waistline, we are far too susceptible to a host nutrient deficiencies that well meaning but misguided nutritionists would say can be easily rectified by following a balanced diet. That is unfortunately poppycock! If we were living in a tightly controlled bubble, perhaps it would be true, but consider the irrefutable facts that modern mass produced food has been leached of much of its goodness as well as being adulterated with harmful chemicals (two enormous reasons to choose organic fare whenever and wherever you can), and that we live with an unnatural undercurrent of stress nagging away at us and raising our needs for essential micro nutrients (who doesn’t have one or all of a mortgage/rent to pay, bills to sort out, parental stress, work stress, and like most of our personal training clients who are based in London, travel/commuting stress).
A single nutrient deficiency can be both harmful to your long term health (you won’t feel it yet, but its consequences will almost inevitably come back to haunt you in later life) and severely compromising to your ability to get the most out of your healthy exercise and diet programmes. You will have heard of the old adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and nowhere is this more relevant than in your body’s ability to respond positively to an exercise stimulus. After running numerous Comprehensive Metabolic Profiles for our clients, we know that overcoming any deficiencies magnifies their progress, be it fat loss or muscle gain, by a highly significant margin.
For example, Charles Poliquin has demonstrated that many track and field athletes are deficient in taurine and magnesium due to all of their high velocity throws. Restoring those two vital nutrients brought about immediate increases in performance in the gym.
A good multi nutrient formula should be regarded as essential insurance by all people who are conscious not just of the physical appearance and performance of their bodies, but also of their health.
Protein isn’t merely the essential building block necessary to building muscle, it is also vitally important to maintaining a healthy metabolism, balancing blood sugar levels, and supporting a strong immune system. Think about your vegetarian acquaintances for a second – they always have the sniffles, right? That is because vegetarians hardly ever take in sufficient complete protein and are always running on empty.
Exact protein intake is an entirely different topic from this one, suffice to say that we recommend a minimum of 1 gramme per pound of lean body weight, and in the case of hard training / carbohydrate intolerant individuals this amount can easily double!
There are many types of protein powder that can help us to reach our daily protein intake targets, but whey protein is widely acknowledged to be the best as it provides the highest level of branched chain amino acids, which make it more effective as both a muscle builder and metabolism and immune system supporter.
Additional research suggests possible medical uses for whey that are quite unexpected and different from whey’s traditional role as an immune booster and anti cancer functional food. For example, whey may be able to reduce stress and lower cortisol and increase brain serotonin levels, improve liver function in those suffering from certain forms of hepatitis, reduce blood pressure.
Whey Protein Played a Key Role in Helping Develop This Physique!
How many of us really and truly eat sufficient green vegetables? Be honest now – not a lot is it. A good greens supplement is designed to overcome our lazy food habits and add the vital nutrients that should be an essential staple of our daily diets. Moreover greens can boost your immune system by supplying a broad array of vital antioxidants.
The ingredients in green supplements have been clinically proven to:
- Support immune system function
- Strengthen cell integrity
- Combat bad breath
- Scavenge the body for free radicals thereby protecting muscles from oxidative stress and damage
- Support healthy weight loss
- Cleanse and detoxify the body from harmful toxins
- Aid and support healthy bone formation
- Improve brain health and thinking abilities
- Improve nerve function
- Improve blood profile
- Improve digestion
- Boost energy levels
Typically greens supplements are plant based supplements that are made from plant sources like alfalfa, barley, grains, nuts, spirulina, wheat grass, herbs, vegetables, legumes and seaweed. However, most of us would be best advised to avoid any product containing wheat grass or alfalfa as these are both substances that are known to trigger common food allergies.
Greens supplementation is particularly beneficial as it will alkalise the body. The stress hormone cortisol raises our acidic levels, and greens can reverse this very swiftly. Hence a greens drink post exercise can be very useful indeed to mitigate the effects of cortisol (raised as a result of training stress).
If this wasn’t reason enough to add a good greens drink, if cortisol is reduced it also reduces the body’s need to raise insulin (elevated insulin levels lowers blood sugar), therefore cutting cravings.
Fish oil is the number one supplement of choice for our personal training clients here at Ultimate Performance. Nothing else is as effective at putting the body in fat burning mode, aiding muscle growth, and enhancing general health. We tell many clients (following an assessment of their hormonal profile) that if they want to put muscle on and lose fat, take at least 30 grammes of fish oil a day. Yes, that’s not a misprint – 30 grammes. It works like a charm. In fact some clients find that levels as high as 45 grammes yield the most spectacular results.
Additional excellent reasons for using fish oil include:
- It reduces inflammation – a factor that is increasingly recognised as aiding longevity and reducing the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
- It improves insulin sensitivity – therefore allowing glucose and amino acids to be delivered into your muscle cells rather than being diverted to fat cells.