Updated: Jan 29, 2021
Before you read on, it’s important to note that I am not a Registered Dietician. However, I am a certified nutritionist via the Mac Nutrition University and always continue to research what I feel I should recommend to my current clientele.
*For all the supplements I have suggested here, I have linked the one’s I use/recommend at the bottom of the article. I have absolutely no affiliation with any of the linked brands...
First, What Does ‘Supplement’ Even Mean?
If you do a quick Google search for the definition of supplement, it’ll come up with this meaning:
‘A thing added to something else in order to complete or enhance it’...
This is an important thing to note before you read on...
Who Shouldn’t Take Supplements?
If you have a horrendously bad diet and think to yourself that you’ll ‘just take a couple of little supplements’ to make up for that then I’m afraid you’re mistaken. A supplement is something that should be taken to enhance an already sound diet. You can’t outrun a bad diet and you sure can’t out supplement one... and yes, that includes Raspberry Ketones. If you don’t know your current caloric intake, protein intake and/or pay no attention whatsoever to your micronutrition intake either, then perhaps start focussing on the basics before worrying about things like ‘what supplements should I take’.
*IMPORTANT NOTE – There is NO SUPPLEMENT that you are going to take that’s going to ‘melt the fat off of you’ or ‘boost your metabolism’ to a level that you can just sit around and do jack shit and the fat will melt off of you. When that supplement exists, ‘The Tank’ will let you know. Until then, consistency/adherence with your diet and training is always going to be number 1...
Who Should Consider Supplementation?
The people most likely to require supplementation are those who are nutrient deficient, people who are perhaps in hard dieting phases, people who are training very hard and/or a combination of both. As normal food is typically restricted, then so are the micronutrients that you would have potentially consumed as well. It’s also important to note, that you could likely have a balanced diet in these situations if you focus on it but again, not everyone will likely be doing so. Supplements ARE NOT a requirement but sometimes, easier to consume (for many people)... in fact, most supplements aren’t great for burning fat (or whatever they advertise) but AMAZING at burning a hole in your wallet.
Supplements I Would Recommend & Why?
Again, some things here can be achieved through a normal diet but if I had to suggest some things, then here is a (small) list:
Multivitamin – When I say multivitamin, I don’t mean a ‘super dosed’ multivitamin that has 3000% of certain vitamins. A good basic ‘certified’ multivitamin is adequate. Long term multivitamin use has been shown to have potential benefits and I like to think of it as just a small ‘safety net’. Again, if dieting, you will be getting less micronutrition in, and this could simply be used as a ‘top-up’. Please don’t use a multivitamin as an excuse for a poor diet though. In any case, to check for any nutritional deficiencies, it is best to get blood work done.
Essential Fatty Acids – If you don’t eat oily fish 2-3 times per week, it’ll be very unlikely that you will meet the requirements suggested for the optimal intake of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA). This is where Fish Oil Supplementation comes in. Fish oil has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, decrease the risk of cardiac death, decrease blood pressure and decrease waist circumference. It doesn’t seem to have any direct effect on our performance in the gym but for our overall health, it sure looks like it does, which is most important. Personally, I don’t eat fish... so I always supplement with fish oils.
Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D3 is normally synthesized in the skin upon the exposure of sunlight. So if you live here in sunny Scotland (or any other place that gets next to no sun) then Vitamin D is something you COULD BE lacking (remember, blood test). Food-wise, Vitamin D is also found in fatty fish, beef, Vitamin D fortified foods (cereals, dairy products etc). Severe deficiency in Vitamin D can cause osteoporosis and can be a contributing risk factor for cancer, hypertension and several autoimmune diseases. So get those levels checked, especially if not exposed to sunlight often.
Creatine – This is most beneficial for people who train intensely. Think 10 seconds sprints (or short bursts) or ‘Heavy’ lifting. It’s naturally produced in the body (in smaller amounts) and is perhaps the most researched supplement that there is. If your goal is to perhaps run a little faster or (potentially) lift that extra rep or two, creatine MIGHT WORK... providing that you have a good training plan and nutrition plan there to assist it, as well as adequate hydration. Never mind funky super creatine blends. Creatine Monohydrate is all that’s needed. Cheap and cheerful and does what it’s supposed to do.
Caffeine – Again, supremely well researched. Every pre-workout that you have or have ever taken, this will be its number one ingredient and the one that you are looking for. Caffeine is a stimulant (a substance that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body) and simply put, will aid you in your training. It mentally helps ‘switch you on’ and can also help with muscular endurance (Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle to repeatedly exert force against resistance. Performing multiple repetitions of an exercise is a form of muscular endurance, as is running or swimming.) However, the benefits can be ‘blunted’ if you abuse it too often. Best use caffeine as and when needed for its full benefits.
Whey Protein – Protein is found in animal products and its main purpose is growth and repair. You can EASILY get protein from your diet alone (unless Vegan or Vegetarian, it will require a little more attention) if you pay attention to it but for some people, they find this difficult. That’s where Whey Protein comes in. If you need to boost your protein intake and to just get it in easily/conveniently... then that’s when I would use it. These days, most of them taste pretty decent too, which helps. I prefer a Whey Protein Isolate, as it is digested a little easier. Isolate simply means it's lactose-free (or close to), so if you feel you have a bit of intolerance, then this may be the best choice for you too.
Is that it? For most people who read my posts... that’s it... yes, really...
As I alluded to before, supplementation at the bottom of the list of things you should be focussing on in terms nutrition (and weight loss) at the beginning of the start of your journey.
Focus on overall nutrition, focus on consistency, focus on building good habits... when you have everything else nailed down, then perhaps you can think about anything additional.
For everything you want to know research-wise regarding supplements, please visit:
Multivitamin – Click Here
Fish Oils – Click here
Vitamin D3 – Click Here
Creatine – Click Here
Whey Protein - Click Here