Dietary Supplements are not necessary to live your healthiest life. Supplements are exactly that, they are to be used to supplement your diet when your diet isn't full enough of certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
But, into the new millennium, there's been an ongoing battle between companies and evolution. Companies are trying to provide quick and easy ways to lose weight with supplements and neglect the inherent chemical process in all living organism known as metabolism. Then there are the companies that will target consumer's pain points of having a slow metabolism and offer a solution with their product. However, it still overlooks thousands of years of human's ability to adapt to their surroundings for survival.
Think about it, in the last 25-50 years, obesity has become an epidemic. But then look at the previous 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, hell let's go all the way back to 5,000 years ago, was it famine or overeating that was killing people? Our bodies don't just forget what our ancestors have experienced, they react to the environment around us.
But this click-bait title isn't about ancestry and human history. This isn't an Anthropology lesson, but it's about dietary supplements and weight loss.
The first thing you need to know about the supplement industry is it is not regulated by the FDA.
I have a few friends who sling multi-level marketing supplements (those get fast quick things) and promote the companies product, and when I mentioned FDA doesn't regulate products, one of the women posted an article about the supplement industry being monitored by the FTC. This apparently resolved the misconception that the FDA doesn't regulate supplements, but in actuality, it reinforced my point of view. The FDA doesn't control the supplement industry, the FTC does. Knowledge is power, friends, and when it comes to your health, it's important to know what the difference is between the two agencies.
What is the FTC? The Federal Trade Commission, and it is an independent agency of the federal government. The purpose of the FTC in the realm of supplements is to monitor the "truth-in-advertising" of supplements. Meaning, I can't have a fish oil supplement and advertise it as a way to increase male sex drive. Companies also are required by the FTC to disclose any harmful side effects, like weight loss supplements that raise blood pressure.
Why is it important to know this? Well the FDA regulates drugs, vaccines, food, medical devices, cosmetics, tobacco, dog food, etc. The FDA is created to monitor consumer products. So when there's an outbreak of salmonella in spinach, the FDA pulls the product. When dog food has bacteria outbreak, the FDA pulls the product. When it comes to food, FDA requires ingredients and amounts to be stated on the nutrition label. This is why it's important to know the difference between FTC and FDA.
Hopefully, by this point, you're realizing supplement companies have little to no regulations, so you have to be careful on what you choose. And the biggest seller is weight loss supplements and challenges through a supplement company. Although if you want an affordable weight loss challenge, I'm running one from October 1-November 19th. If you read this the week of October 1-7, you still have time to enter.
You don't need dietary supplements to lose weight. Dietary supplements won't kickstart your weight loss program. There's one way to lose weight, and that is by achieving a calorie deficit. Bringing in fewer calories per day than you are expending.
However, say you have recently switched over to a vegan lifestyle, you're losing weight, but your energy levels are low. It might be because you are missing protein, essential amino acids, and B vitamins because of your diet switch, and that's when dietary supplements can fill in the missing pieces. Taking some B12 supplements, BCAAs (branch chain amino acids), and vegan protein.
My diet isn't perfect, and I do use supplements to fill in the parts that are missing. I've received a few emails about my opinions about taking supplements for weight loss, and this is why I'm writing this article right now.
When I first started losing weight in 2014, I didn't take ANY supplements. I read an article about how drinking a coffee after your workout will help with fat loss. So that was the only post-recovery drink I consumed. After I took spin classes, I stopped at Dunkin for a coffee. Doing this helped me lose 50lbs.
Eventually, I was introduced to pre-workout. And that was my first supplement I started taking. Before I lifted with some of my work colleagues, we would sling some pre-workout, warm up, stretch and then the itchiness came on from the beta-alanine.
Beta-alanine and most pre-workouts are comprised caffeine and of essential amino acids like valine, isoline, leucine, and in some brands arginine and taurine. All of these help with athletic performance and pumping blood to the muscles for a good lift. Taurine is actually an amino acid that helps with focus. So if you get a little flighty, a pre-workout with taurine might be beneficial.
Needless to say, I still take pre-workout.
So here's my list of supplements I take. These work for my lifestyle and diet:
Fish Oil- Omega 3, essential fats
ZMA- Nighttime supplement of zinc, magnesium aspartate
Collagen Peptides- Helps strengthen soft tissues and bones
Protein- Only take when I'm lacking protein in my diet. I aim for 130-140g protein per day
Greens- When I don't eat enough veggies in a day I'll have a scoop of greens for nutrients
BCAAs- I make a BCAA intra-workout drink on days I have a tough lift
Pre-workout- To help fuel my workouts
Zzzquil- To go to bed at night
L-Carnitine- I take this when I'm going on a long 60+ minute run
I try to get most my nutrients through diet. When I take supplements its mostly to support my overall goal in the gym.