Being fully committed to a health program isn’t just about hitting the gym hard – it’s about incorporating a healthy balance of exercise, diet and lifestyle choices into your schedule. For many looking for big results, incorporating vitamins, protein powders and/or supplements is a great way to keep yourself on track and see those results quickly. Before you head to your closest health and nutrition store to stock up, though, do your research – finding the right supplements and understanding what you’re putting into your body is extremely important.
1. Not all supplements, powders and pills are the same. Even though they may look the same or at first glance provide the same benefits, make sure you’re reading the labels on each type of ingredient before purchasing. With protein especially, I recommend to stay away from protein that markets the added value of “Amino Enhanced” protein. Brands that are currently sold in Whole Foods Supermarkets (like Garden of Life, for example) is a good quality protein.
2. Don’t restrict yourself to supplements. Don’t get me wrong – supplements are great to include into your regimen and do provide immense benefits while keeping you on track; however, make sure you’re also getting nutrients from whole foods. If you’re looking for vitamins or protein, healthy foods are great to incorporate into your diet – mixing your protein powder with fruits, spinach and greek yogurt will provide you with a nutritious and healthy meal! Some other foods great for protein that won’t overload you on calories are:
a. Natural Peanut Butter is probably the most popular.
b. Greek Yogurt – It is high in “good” bacteria to aid in digestion.
c. Chia Seeds
f. Flax Seeds
3. Understand your overall health and fitness goals. Are you looking to bulk up? Gain weight? Lose weight or inches? Based on your overall health and fitness goals, specific supplements or vitamins will be more beneficial. For those looking to lose weight, incorporate proteins with low carb and sugar as well as low-calorie ingredients. For those looking to bulk up or taking on more high-intensity training, taking both pre and post workout supplements will provide fuel and aid muscle recovery, therefore helping promote muscle growth.
4. Do your research and be conscious of your personal health. For first timers looking to take on supplements or protein powders, feel free to ask questions! You want to know what you’re putting in your body and how it will affect you. Also make sure to read the label extra carefully if you have allergies or a specific diet plan. One of the most important things to know is if you have any type of milk allergies, or are lactose intolerant. Whey Isolate, Whey Concentrate, Milk Protein Isolate, Casein, Egg, all have different absorption times and you want to get the maximum absorption with each meal. If you are vegan then you will want a plant based protein such as Rice, Pea, Hemp, Soy Protein.
Regardless of what supplements you choose, make sure you’re putting your health first and listening to how your body reacts. Good for you for taking the next step in health and getting more focused on your goals – good luck!