In my experience, it is important to take care of your hydration, macronutrients and essential fatty acids before worrying about anything else when it comes to nutrition and supplements and also consider what you really need.
First and foremost focus on whole foods and quality nutrition through a well-planned, healthy and well balanced diet and keep in mind that supplements should be viewed as just that, supplements, only contributing to 1% of your results, designed to enhance and improve your health, fitness and daily life. Proper nutrition, consistent training, adequate rest and recovery will lead to more lean muscle mass, a better body composition and overall, long lasting results.
Nutrition starts at the source; with the right planning and by eating real, whole foods you can achieve almost all of your nutrient needs. However, the "average" diet often times falls nutritionally short; we would hope that by following your structured meal plan, adhering to your macronutrient recommendations, using your VVT food diary and working with your trainer, you are anything but average.
Following on from previous insight, here we expand and give a brief overview, make recommendations and educate you with information to expand your nutritional know how beyond carbohydrates, proteins and fats, looking at a bit more detail (more) common nutritional supplements. These may help move you closer to your goals and take your training and results to the next level.
Always speak to your Trainer for recommendations on individual products and brands and consult your health care professional directly to consider which is right for you.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help ensuring the adequate intake of key vitamins & minerals and overcoming any nutritional pitfalls. However, if you do find yourself falling short or feel you could use a nutritional boost often the first port of call for many is multivitamins.
Multivitamins are designed to ensure you are getting all your requisite vitamins and minerals with clams to prevent chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Brands and choices run the gauntlet of the alphabet with near as many numerical and letter codes to go around however the most common standouts are Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
With their complementary roles within the body, these key vitamins are essential to the body with their antioxidant properties; they have been shown to promote tissue repair, reducing free radical damage and are suggested to protect against cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers and revers the effects of aging. These benefits explain why vitamin C (and similarly vitamin E) is the default for many to fight against the common cold. For natural sources of vitamin C look to spinach, broccoli, red peppers and citrus fruits, whereas, vitamin E can be found in abundance in fatty foods such as avocados, almonds, peanuts and olive oil.
Another common go to for many is B-Complex Vitamins, a group of vitamins which include eight B vitamins. Each with their own key function within the body, the group is responsible for proper bodily functioning. They aid in digestion, promote muscular response and energy production as well as from a role in the regulation of hormones resulting in mood elevation and even have been shown to lower LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) levels, and boost HDL (the "good" cholesterol).
Magnesium is a naturally occurring muscle relaxant, it assists and enhances with recovery assisting with neurological and electrical impulses. Studies have suggested that there is a link between magnesium and muscle strength leading to positive changes in overall physical performance and general health and wellbeing.
It provides relief for muscle cramps, strains, painful and involuntary spasms, and fatigue, supports energy production and assists in healthy sleep. Overall it helps to maintain and support a healthy lifestyle and rigorous physical activity.
Natural dietary sources of magnesium include nuts, legumes, whole grains, dark, leafy green vegetables and seafood however it can be beneficial to include magnesium in your daily supplement regime.
A critical element found in every tissue of the body, zinc is important for supporting and maintaining healthy immune function and responsible for red & white blood cell function. Zinc has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties targeting and neutralizing free radicles. Furthering on from this, it has been shown to improve sleep quality, and serves to increase protein synthesis and muscle building. It has also been shown to impact exercise performance serving to increase energy, improve cardiovascular health and strength levels. Also, acting as a libido booster, zinc is imperative to sexual function in both male and female reproductive health and fertility, serving to balance and maintain hormonal function allowing for increased testosterone and effective estrogen production, balance and use. A key thing to consider is that zinc production deteriorates with age with aged populations being specifically susceptible to zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency has been linked to body weight complications, fatigue and poor endurance.
Similarly to Magnesium, zinc rich foods include (red) meat, eggs, seafood (oysters in particular) and whole grains.
ZMA (Zinc-Magnesium supplement)
Generally zinc-magnesium supplements contain both zinc (in the form of zinc monomethine aspartate) and magnesium (aspartate) with the addition of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and is widely marketed as a "recovery aid" helping to promote better sleep quality with claims to raise strength levels and enhance hormonal levels. The point of difference for ZMA is the form of the zinc, and the zinc to magnesium ratio as well as the inclusion of pyridoxine, necessary for the function of carbohydrates, proteins and fats as well as maintain nerve and immune system.
As it is predominantly used to supplement and enhance sleep quality and recovery, ZMA is directed to be taken 30 - 60 minutes prior to bedtime, typically on an empty stomach, this helps with absorption rate during sleep.
Something to take note is that it is highly recommended that products containing zinc not be taken with foods or supplements containing calcium as calcium will inhibit and block the absorption of zinc.
Our bodies take a beating through the day; both in our daily life and during training, with our joints, specifically our joint cartilage, taking the brunt of the forces causing arthritic symptoms, inflammation and swelling. Supplementing with glucosamine may help to alleviate and relieve painful osteoarthritis symptoms and help with cartilage, joint health and recovery. Glucosamine is a natural product generally derived from seafood, specifically crustacean exoskeletons (shellfish shells) but also, less commonly, by the fermentation of grains such as corn or wheat. Being derived from shellfish, manufacturers will include a warning to those with a seafood allergy should consult a healthcare professional before taking the product.
Glucosamine has been shown to help relieve pain associated with arthritis, reduce inflammation, improve and increase joint mobility and ease of movement, help our bodies recover from cartilage damage due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties however nothing indicates that glucosamine will repair tendon and ligament damage caused by injuries.
As with most things in the health and fitness world, ongoing research is being done into the uses and benefits of supplementation; nutrition is a rapidly expanding and ever changing field with new and ongoing research happening daily.
The key is to use products from brands you know and trust; ask your Trainer for recommendations and educate yourself in order to make the right choices for you and your individual goals.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.