If you pay attention even a little bit to the fitness and nutrition world, you know that supplements are big business. Even grocery stores that used to not carry things like whey protein now have entire aisles of fitness and nutrition supplements not to mention vitamins and herbs. Through the years I’ve used a variety of all kinds but over time have landed on the right formula for me. That special recipe is different for everyone, of course, but one thing holds true–there are some supplements you simply do not need.
I took these religiously for three years during my workouts. I erroneously thought they would help hydrate me and prevent soreness after my workouts. In truth all they really did was flavor my water and add sugar to my diet. I was afraid to stop taking them because I was convinced I would be so sore after workouts but when I finally did stop recently, I was happily surprised to see nothing had changed! Nothing! I still get the same required protein and aminos as I did when I was taking BCAAs and now I save about $35 a month! Skip these!
Again, I was dependent on this one simply out of fear that if I stopped, I would not be able to power through my lifting at the early hour of 5 a.m. Others told me to just do an espresso shot but I maintained that C4, my drug of choice, was my elixir! Turns out I don’t need it. Once you get up and start moving, your body is fine. It can power through. Truthfully, what turned out to be more important was getting something into my system at that early hour. I started drinking a protein/creatine shake during my workouts and I find I’m doing just fine. Still have energy and still making it through my workouts, even at 5:30 in the morning.
A few people told me they took collagen peptides for healthy hair and skin. While I was growing out my pixie I took it daily in my workout shake. But, when I no longer had a need for it, I stopped. And nothing has changed. My hair is still growing like crazy, my skin is the same and I have no issues growing healthy, strong nails either. I’m not convinced it added anything but cost.
Lots of companies out there are touting “red” and “green” drinks as a way to ensure you’re getting your vegetables. It’s better for your body when you eat the real thing, guys. I get it that it’s hard to strive for five and I’m not perfect in that area but we all need to commit to trying. We’ll be healthier and it’s probably less expensive, too. Even spirulina and greens shots add little value to your daily diet. I know there are some who would disagree but personally I have noticed no difference. This is the one place, though, where I will sometimes add this supplement back into my diet–when I’m doing a cleanse. It’s helpful to saturate myself with all the healthy things and it helps clear out the not so nice things left in my system.
Vitamins and Herbs
I have never taken an herb that I felt actually did what it was supposed to do except for Fenugreek back when I was nursing my children. Herbal supplements are not necessary. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you don’t need them. Now, if you have a special condition or health issue, you could very well benefit from herbal supplements but if you are healthy with no issues, skip them. As for vitamins, I do take a lot! But, they are mostly to help me with specific issues related to aging. I recommend everyone take a good quality multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D in the winter (if you live in a cloudy area) and a probiotic. Beyond that? You don’t need anything.
For those who are curious, I also take vitamin C, B complex, calcium and magnesium. C helps my immune system (I have three kids!), and the rest are helpful as I age through peri-menopause and have helped me with various symptoms.
Notice I have not mentioned two other popular supplements–whey protein and creatine. That’s because I take both of those and feel they are worth it for muscle building. I don’t need whey every day because I do consume enough protein-rich foods but it helps me in the morning when I just need to have something in my system for my workout. Creatine gives me the extra push I need to really progress with my weight training. I usually take it for about 8 weeks and then take a break from it just to switch it up and keep my muscles guessing. Both supplements are terrific for when you are trying to gain and both have healthy versions with little to know extra ingredients.
When it comes to supplements, I say try what you think might be helpful to you and see how it goes. But never feel like you need to be dependent on them and always be honest with yourself about whether you really do need them. Don’t be afraid to stop taking them and see what happens. You may be surprised to learn you don’t need them after all!