Supplements you might actually find helpful
I get it all the time, at BBQs, mixers, the gym, dinners and even coffee shops where patrons and their crappuccinos just “happen” to eavesdrop into a prospective client’s consultation. I get an immeasurable amount of emails and messages almost daily asking about dietary intake, healthy foods and supplements so I decided to put it altogether in one spot for you to refer to.
There are some on this list that I am a big proponent of and some that I am not. If I haven’t used it I WILL NOT recommend it either. That being said, I know that some supplements can be very useful depending on your goals with say, fat loss, performance, muscle building, detoxification, or just general wellness. They are not essential by any means and sometimes just make life easier, which also may act as a defense against the potential shortcomings of a poor diet.
I’ve provided links to some products and these are ones I can personally attest to as good products.
Hong Kong clients should order from Redwood Health if they want the best price and highest quality products.
Clients that are happy paying international shipping costs may also find TrueNutrition a great resource for many of the supplements I recommend here. Their prices are very competitive and it may interest some of you that like to buy in bulk and know what’s going in your supplements. Enter code: “RNC825” to get 5% off your order.
Protein Powders (Whey, Whey Isolate, Vegan, Vegetarian, etc.)
While carbs and fats are your body’s energy sources, protein is the foundation of all your body’s tissues including your skin, hair, nails, and probably the most important, muscle tissue.
This, by far, has typically been the reason why my clients fall short at achieving their physique goals. Protein intake can either make or break you when it comes to fat loss or lean muscle gain.
Do I suggest it to all my clients? Simply put, no.
Do I encourage clients to eat whole food protein sources such as organic eggs, grass-fed meats, free-range chicken, non-GMO tofu, yes. I do believe these foods are far superior to any supplement protein powder on the market but unfortunately we live in the real world and these things aren’t always within arms’ reach.
This is the biggest advantage for my busy, working professionals for a quick shot of nutrients pre- and post-workout. Obviously, having a protein shake is a much better option than moseying on down to the closest Micky D’s or ordering a pizza when you’re sleep-deprived and overloaded at the office.
As a personal preference and as a service I provide to my local and international clients, I suggest sticking with a powder that you can mix yourself versus prepackaged can/bottles (Musclemilk) and protein bars. TrueNutrition has some amazing products along with a design-it-yourself interface to create your own blends. Enter code: “ RNC825″ to get 5% off your order.
For my local Hong Kong clients interested in maintaining health, losing lbs or toning muscle, I recommend Optimum Nutrition Whey and Biotrust Low Carb for clients who prefer dairy-based products. Alternatively, for clients who prefer plant-based products, Progressive Nutritional’s Vegessential all in one and Sunwarrior Warrior Blend.
BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids)
Branched chain amino acids are a must for all those who train fasted in the morning. Why? The use of BCAAs will help you retain lean mass while training in a fasted or dieting state. This is important. The more muscle you have, the more muscle you keep, the easier it is to lose fat and keep it off. They also help your body maintain a healthy metabolism, you avoid rebound weight gain, and you maintain your hard earned physique all year long.
Keep it short and simple, if you’re not eating the rainbow on a daily basis and you follow a diet high in refined and processed foods you might want to pop one of these bad boys with your meal. It can also aid with any mineral or vitamin deficiencies in your diet.
Fish Oil (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna, etc.)
Unless you’ve been stranded on an island somewhere, I shouldn’t have to bore you with a long explanation on why you need this one. Not only does it help with reducing body fat, decreasing inflammation, improving cardiovascular health, boosting sex drive, the recent studies have also showed us that it helps with keeping you motivated. The fish oils actually influence the dopamine and serotonin systems in the brain, which lead to an increase of motivation while lowering the incidence of depression.
New scientific evidence suggests that people don’t get enough vitamin D to function optimally. Its potential benefits were actually featured in the New York Time’s Top Ten List of medical breakthroughs in 2007. Not only this but vitamin D may boost strength and athletic performance. How much should you start taking? 2000 IU per day is a good dosage to start with. So save yourself some moolah, and simply step outside to get some sun for 10 – 15 minutes each day.
Let’s start by saying this – creatine research has been on fire – it is the only legal supplement with several studies to support its efficacy. In the late 90’s to early 00’s it was primarily seen as a muscle building supplement. However, now it’s been seen on the move to more of a “general wellness” supplement. Yes, that’s right, I just may prescribe this little gem to my grandparents!
What is Creatine? Well, simply put, it’s your body’s stored form of energy that can be easily assimilated and used for moderate to high intensity activities. Think: when you’re lifting weights or better yet, explosive, finger extension movement so you can life-up on that game of candy crush you’re so addicted to!
Besides increasing muscle creatine contents for more “explosive” performance boosts, creatine can also help with the cells in your brain, bones and liver! New research conducted has even shown anti-depressive effects as well as its ability to help with certain neurological diseases, particularly cells that are responsible for Parkinson’s disease.
In terms of cognitive benefits (memory formation and retention), studies done with vegans and vegetarians show that in a state of relative deficiency, their cognitive performance was less than mediocre. These studies seem to show that in order for you to be at your optimal level, cognitively, the body cannot be in a state of creatine deficiency.
There is a myriad of research with creatine but I thought I would shed light on just a few that have resonated throughout the years. Bottom line, creatine can help in many aspects of living a healthy life and considering how inexpensive it is, I’d recommend almost anyone to jump on the bandwagon with this one.
As an echo, supplements are not essential to your success and you may in fact do just as good without them with a balanced whole foods diet.
One thing you can be sure of is the constant flux and advances in nutrition and supplementation. Some of the info I have broken down today may be different next year or even next week for that matter. My advice, check back often as I will be updating this page regularly.
Brustovetsky N, Brustovetsky T, Dubinsky JM. On the mechanisms of neuroprotection by creatine and phosphocreatine. J Neurochem. (2001)
Dahl O. Estimating protein quality of meat products from the content of typical amino-acids and creatine. J Sci Food Agric. (1965)
Genius J, et al. Creatine protects against excitoxicity in an in vitro model of neurodegeneration. PLoS One. (2012)
Klivenyi P, et al. Additive neuroprotective effects of creatine and a cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitor against dopamine depletion in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. J Mol Neurosci. (2003)
Lyoo IK, et al. A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of oral creatine monohydrate augmentation for enhanced response to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in women with major depressive disorder. Am J Psychiatry. (2012)
Hespel, et al. Ergogenic effects of creatine in sports and rehabilitation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18652080?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=12