I receive about 3 emails per week saying something like, “I am having trouble losing weight, what supplement would you recommend?” If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time you will come to realize I do talk about using meal replacements or whey protein for different reasons.
Supplements will help you to lose fat faster, help you recover more quickly, and help you feel better sooner after training.
So the question is… should you take them? As with any broad but extremely important question the answer is…..it depends.
Here’s the question you have to ask yourself . Does your diet look like crap and you’re hoping supplements will be a magic bullet? If you’re coming to me with this question and you’re still eating fast food a couple times per week, don’t like to eat vegetables, hate the taste of water, only like a couple fruits, has dessert with most meals, drinks a lot of coffee, drink soda or diet soda, eats mostly processed foods and skips breakfast. No amount of supplements will help you.
So lets first a look at the elephant in the room which is your bad diet. I am not going to go into a big nutritional lesson today, since I have written over 30 articles on the subject already. Click here to check some of them out.
So assuming you are fully committed and taken action to eating healthier, what supplements will help?
Here are the supplements that I recommend on a regular basis. I use a company called Prograde. They’re high quality, I know the owners, and love their customer service. Yes I do make a small commission if you purchase through my links, but if you want to go with some other company that’s totally cool too.
Before I tell you what I believe will help you, I must remind you to consult with a doctor before taking a supplement in case you have some pre-existing issues.
So what do I recommend? And Why.
Protein Powder: This is the basic of basics. Based on research, protein is essential to lean muscle, increases the feeling of being full, requires more calories to be burned when breaking it down, and this makes it the real winner, it’s the least likely to be stored as fat! I generally recommend .8-1.o g per ideal body weight. So if you should be 130 lbs, try to get between 100-130 grams of protein. Now I have found that most people get less than half of that! If you aren’t use to eating 20 grams of protein with each meal, then it can be tough. So I like to use protein powder in my smoothies that I make. I usually drink at least 2 per day, sometimes 3. Now there is nothing magical about the protein powder, but it is quick, handy, and high quality. What should you look for in a protein powder? 100% whey protein (avoid soy like it is the plague), low sugar, a natural sweetener like Stevia, no fake sugars (usually in the form of sucralose, another name for splenda, or aspertame) and low in fat. For a woman, the body can’t break down much more than 25-30 grams at any given time, so don’t go overboard with the protein at each meal. Click here to learn more
Multivitamin: Think of this as your real health insurance. One a day. Just to cover anything you might be missing in your diet. It can be a nice safety net when we don’t get all the daily vitamins and nutrients we need. Click here to learn more
Post workout meal: Again, there is an enormous amount of research proving the fat burning and muscle toning benefits of the meal you eat right after your workout (within 45 min). Your muscles are craving protein and simple sugars. The problem is so many people know this, but don’t make the time for this important meal. So take in maybe 30-40 grams of simple sugars (I like to use fruit), and 15-20 grams of whey protein (fastest to absorb). I just use my regular protein powder and blend in fruit. But some don’t even want to do that, so the other option is to have a post workout powder that already has the components necessary. It is low fat, and has a 2:1 ratio of sugar to carbs. If mixing a powder is easier for you, this is a good option. This is the first supplement I ever recommended and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Click here to learn more.
Meal Replacement: Most people also know that eating smaller more frequent meals seems to help more people stay on track with their body fat goals. There are many reasons for this which I am not going to get into, but yet again with our busy lives and people not wanting to prepare food ahead of time, a meal replacement powder can be a good option. They are very well balanced and should fill you up pretty good. This is perfect when traveling, or when you’re in a bind and haven’t prepared anything ahead of time. This does contain a little sucralose , but believe they are in the process of switching over to stevia. Click here to learn more
Energy bar: These I will sometimes use as a meal replacement or as a dessert 🙂 It fills my sweet tooth while at the same time being a pretty low calorie, but very good tasting treat. These all organic bars are pretty low in protein (wish they were higher), but not too processed and use all organic components. Plus they are around 150 calories so they won’t be breaking the calorie budget. Click here to learn more.
Omega 3: Fish oil or krill oil. The amount of research that shows benefits to increased omega 3 fatty acids is pretty staggering. If you ate a fatty fish everyday day (like salmon), you probably wouldn’t need a supplement, but I also wouldn’t recommend eating fish everyday because of the mercury. I take a krill oil supplement that has much higher levels of omega 3s.
So there you have it, basically those are all the supplements I can recommend. I have experimented with others, but these are the ones I feel science supports the most. Feel free to not buy from these links, but do your own research and make sure it is from a trusted source, has high quality ingredients, has been as less processed as possible, and doesn’t contain fake sugars. The downside is that they are going to cost a little more than some of the cheaper brands out there, but the upside is the quality of the product is much more natural and healthier.
Remember, supplements are there to “supplement” your healthy eating. Stay consistent and expect results! – Dave