Simple SupplementationJeremy Partl, RD, gives us a supplement (haha!) to his take on protein powders earlier this week. Here are his go-to supplement recommendations for lifters.
By: Jeremy Partl, Registered Dietitian
Earlier this week, I wrote about supplementing with protein—the characteristics of protein powders, the potential pitfalls surrounding the quality of supplements, and my go-to recommendations. The lifter’s frequent need for protein powder shows the potential value of supplementation in general. In the continuing debate over supplements, you have people who think it’s sacrilege to consume anything that is not a whole food, on the one hand. On the other, you have people who have a supplement for every corner of their diet. In this debate, I like to walk the middle ground.
Eating a varied diet of micronutrient-rich foods will usually provide nearly every nutrient needed for optimal health outcomes. Especially in the context of a well-balanced diet, supplementation is just something extra, playing only a small role in health enhancement, perhaps not providing any additional benefits. However, I still like clients to use some supplements, because they can be used to ensure adequacy, like an insurance policy to help them meet recommended requirements and shore up weak points in a diet that might not be well rounded.
Here is my shortlist of staple supplements that I like to recommend to nearly every client:
As an insurance policy, multivitamins help make sure that you are getting adequate amounts of every vitamin and mineral needed for optimal functioning. If you have little variety in your diet or are eating a low-calorie diet, the importance of the multivitamin is heightened. It is better to be safe than sorry with such a cheap supplement to ensure you are getting the most out of your body.
It is well established that creatine helps to build muscle, increase strength, and improve performance. But many people are not aware of the multiple other benefits of creatine supplementation. It has been shown to improve cognitive ability, fight diabetes, increase bone density, and improve energy levels. Again, it is another dirt-cheap supplement that is well worth its cost.
For many reasons, clients struggle to get enough protein in their diet. Protein powder is a great way to add protein into a diet and make sure that people are consuming enough. It can be something as simple as mixing with liquid to making a protein shake or adding it into baked recipes. Nothing beats the convenience (and usually taste) of flavored protein powder.
Fish oil is a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have been linked to improving heart health, symptoms of mental disorders, body composition, and more. The World Health Organization recommends eating 1–2 portions of fish per week. But if you don’t eat 1–2 portions of fish per week, fish oil supplements can help you get enough omega-3s.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to supplementation, this covers most of the bases for most people. It may be more than you need, but other than the cost of the supplements, there is little to no downside to taking these few.