The Logic Behind My Favorite Supplements
Last week, I was coaching our hockey showcase and during a question and answer session that revolved around nutrition, a young athlete raised her hand to ask if she needed to take a multi-vitamin in order to be healthy and a good athlete. It gave me pause to realize even a young girl is concerned that she is not taking the right supplement. Short answer, I told her no, that she could get all the essential nutrients and good health from eating whole foods. I did mention that some athletes at the higher level may require added protein and BCAA's for example but at that level most healthy kids/adults should be able to get everything they need from eating mindfully.
The multi-billion dollar supplement industry will have you hooked and spending large amounts of money whether the product is needed or not. As we all know, the best form of optimal nutrient intake is from a whole food diet. Fruits and vegetables and other whole foods contain micro nutrients that are not found in pills due to the difference of the break-down/metabolization process combined with body chemistry and other foods. For example the maximum absorbtion and utilization of antioxidants/ nutrients from broccoli can be enhanced by combining a healthy oil with greens consumption.
That being said, there are times to supplement depending on level of exertion, build, needs etc. For me, a mid-twenties female athlete that works out 3+ hours a day, these are my favorite brands that demonstrate "clean and natural" options. If I was not working at such a high volume, I might reduce my intake of these supplements.
1. "Better You BCAA": Branch Chain Amino Acids are essential aminos that are building blocks of protein. These aminos help preserve muscle glycogen stores, fueling your muscles and minimizing protein breakdown durning/post exercise. This gives your body a reliable energy source to tap into during performance, saving muscle breakdown and promoting recovery. I don't suggest clients take this unless they are performing at an elite level. You can get BCAAs naturally through foods like, meats, eggs, beans. I choose this brand because it is a natural product, sweetened with stevia leaf instead of an artificial sweetener such a Sucralose, tastes great, and doesn't upset my stomach when it is sensitive during/post exercise. Drink before, during, and or after exercise (I like to drink 1/2 during and 1/2 after).
2. Better You Pea and Oat Protein: Why I prefer plant based protein... Healthy digestion and muscle recovery are at the top of my list when picking supplements. My main attraction to pea and oat protein is that it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, including BCAAs that you need to effectively build and keep muscle. This doesn't apply to many other plant based proteins such as rice. Plant protein is also considered alkaline forming vs. Whey protein, which is slightly higher on the acidic side (not bad for you! Just showing the comparison). While keeping our bodys' pH levels in mind... we try to aim to be more on the alkaline side rather than the acidic side. In general, Higher acidity reduces the effectiveness of our antioxidants, which have the job of defending harmful free radicals in our bodies that cause cell damage, promote disease. This "Better You" plant based protein is GREAT on my digestion, fully replenishes my muscles, and meets my protein requirements for my training. This type of protein is great if you feel you aren't getting enough protein through your diet, whether you're an athlete or not. Moderate, natural protein supplements are ok in addition to a low-imflamation diet, BUT getting your essential nutrients through whole foods first is ideal. *Again, athletes expend more energy and may need of a protein supplement after performance for optimal recovery, and muscle building/maintenance.
3. Vital Proteins: Collagen Peptides: Why is collagen all the rage right now?! Collagen is the protein "glue" that holds our body together. According to the the Vital Proteins website, "Collagen is a protein made up of amino-acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine, all of which help our body's connective tissue, skin, hair, nails, as well as gut health...... Our products are natural sources of essential proteins, sourced from pasture-raised cows in Brazil and New Zealand and wild-caught fish in Hawaii." Collagen will decrease as we age and put additional stress on our bodies, this supplement can aid in the process of strengthening hair, skin, nails, and joints, along with helping leaky gut, and reducing cortisol (stress hormones) levels. Collagen has been known to help repair the lining of our guts and improve digestion, which sparked my interest! I have been taking this Vital Protein Collagen Peptides for months now and have noticed higher tolerance for foods that usually cause me irritations and have also shown consistent patterns with smooth digestion.
Unfortunately the Better You products are only available in Sweden at the moment, but are soon looking to be distributed in the States! When shopping for these supplements look for companies with natural products that don't contain artificial sweeteners, and have minimal ingredients. You can see and order Vital Proteins online under my "Products tab".
*Everyone's bodies react differently to supplements, please consult with your doctor before incorporating supplements into your diet. Start with a whole food, low-inflammation diet before being quick to incorporate supplements.