Let’s talk supplements

Supplements are often something people turn to in hope that they provide the answer to their fitness or body composition goals, especially as the marketing of them can often make us believe this.

When we look at The Fitness Collective food pyramid, we can see that supplements are at the top of the pyramid, being the factor that has the least impact, when it comes to body composition changes. Focusing on supplements, without considering the lower tiers of the pyramid is similar to trying to put the roof on a house that isn’t built yet. 

When it comes to thinking about nutrition we always encourage our members to look to get as many nutrients, vitamins and minerals from food sources first. Whole single ingredient foods provide a vast array of nutrients, but also associated cofactors, and often further benefits such as fibre that may be beneficial for gut health. So primarily, we want to be looking at getting a wide range of nutrients from a wide variety of foods. 

But we also understand particularly if there are dietary preferences such as vegetarianism or veganism, that can make it a little more challenging to get all the nutrients we need. Also when we look at things from a convenience or performance perspective then we may opt to use specific supplements.

It’s useful to note here that specific health considerations may need more targeted supplementation.

The supplement industry is a huge money making industry, so we have to be considerate of this when we consider marketing strategies used in order to sell products.  

We’ve all seen these ‘special’ fat loss teas, promising the world. Whether that be detoxification, or weight loss, the truth behind many of these teas is that detoxification is much more complex than a couple of compounds, and weight loss comes down to burning more than you are consuming. So instead of consuming a tea that may cause laxative or diuretic effects (which can cause further issues), we can simply look to nourish ourselves with real food, and portion our intake and get a better result for not only our health, but also our performance.

We recognise that there are popular supplements such as multivitamins, vitamin D, and omega 3’s that are commonly supplemented and there may be a time and a place for these depending on each individual’s specific circumstances. 

Supplemental protein is also a commonly used supplement, as it can be really convenient for those that may struggle to get enough protein into their diets.

Also, there are a few popular performance related supplements, most notably creatine. Creatine is one of the most researched supplements in the world and shows many performance benefits. 

3 Things to watch out for when it comes to supplements:

1.As aforementioned, be careful not to get drawn into the marketing ploys of supplements promising the world. If a statement appears to be too good to be true, it probably is. Weight loss comes down to being in a calorie deficit, and it is often not the losing weight that is the hard part but keeping it off. If we aren’t changing our habits and lifestyle when it comes to nutrition and fitness and expecting to lose weight via a crazy diet for 6 weeks, or a ‘special’ tea, it’s obvious that as soon as you stop doing this and go back to old habits (that were the cause of the weight gain in the first place) you’ll put the weight back on. 

2. Watch out for ‘fairy dusting’. Often companies can use terms such as ‘proprietary blend’, which may have high amounts of certain compounds, but barely any of others. This way we don’t really know what we are getting.

3. Do your research or ask for help. Certain forms of supplements may have different absorption rates and different benefits to certain types. Magnesium is one example of this: There are several different types of magnesium from oxide, citrate, to bisglycinate. Some are better absorbed than others, and different types can be used for more specific purposes.

If you have any questions regarding supplements, please get in contact with the team.

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