Supplements – What You Need to Know.
Not only is Winston’s Fitness a Gym, but we’re also a Supplements store. Downtown Grande Prairie has no lack of stores that cater to healthy nutrition by providing a broad range of dietary supplements. Not only specialized stores and gyms, but also drug-stores, grocery stores, and other outlets serve people who need to add something to their diet. But what are they? Why are they popular? Do I need to take them? How do I know what to buy? We’ll try to bring some clarity to these questions.
So what exactly are they? Dietary supplements grew out of a greater understanding of the nutritional needs of the human body. People have always been aware to some level that the body needs certain types of food to be healthy, but in the past several centuries, as scientists began to better understand the different foods the body needs, people began paying closer attention to what they are putting into their bodies, and began developing ways of supplementing their diets with whatever they lacked. Sometimes people’s lifestyles do not allow them to consume enough of a certain nutrient or food. An easy example is that of vitamins. The body needs certain vitamins but it may be difficult to eat enough of that food that contains a certain vitamin to receive enough of it. This is where supplements can help.
Supplements can provide virtually any of the nutrients people need – minerals, vitamins, fibre, proteins, and so on. Some of them are prescribed by doctors (folic acid for pregnant women or calcium for people past a certain age, for example), while others are taken by people on their own.
How do people actually add supplements to their diet?
They come in all shapes and forms. You can buy them as a pills, powder, or extract; you can add them to drinks or food or consume them directly; and they can combine various dietary nutrients in a single product – e.g. the multi-vitamin, or a protein-shake that includes other nutrients. This is a good thing especially for people who may not like or may not be able to consume supplements in a certain form.
Supplements vs. Completely Natural Foods
But can’t we get enough nutrients from natural foods? Actually, in most cases, we can. There are a few exceptions – folic acid is a good example as it would be difficult for a woman to consume enough spinach to reach the recommended amount. However, in most cases, it is possible to get your required nutrition from food alone. In fact, it may be better than taking a supplement. In most cases, research shows that the body absorbs nutrients better from food than from supplements.
Now, it may be possible to get the required nutrients from natural food alone, but it isn’t easy. For example, the recommended amount of protein for the average North American is 1/2 gram of protein per pound of body-weight. This means that, for example, the average North American should eat at least 2 chicken dinners a day (or any number of other protein-rich foods).
This is fine for someone who moves around a lot but for someone who spends a lot of time sitting or isn’t very active, this means a lot of calories. The problem is much greater for people who are trying to build muscle. The recommendation is between 1 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body-weight. That’s a lot of protein-rich food. On top of that, it’s necessary to complement it with fibre, carbohydrates, and other foods. This is a great example of where supplements can solve the problem. Using protein supplements can allow this person to consume enough protein without worrying about a massive number of calories. There are many examples of an effective use of supplements. While natural foods are in general superior nutritionally speaking, often the smart use of supplements allows people to balance their diets with their lifestyle and goals. It’s better to use a supplement than miss out on the nutrient altogether.
How to decide what dietary supplements you need.
So how do we figure out which ones to take if any? Here are some steps to help you think about supplements in your diet:
- Determine your body’s needs. Everyone needs certain nutrients to maintain their health. These include vitamins such as vitamin C, D, and E.
- Think about your goals. Are you aiming at building muscle? Protein supplements may be something to think about. Do you need to maintain health as you grow older? Vitamins, calcium, and some other minerals may be increasingly important.
- Figure out how you will get the nutrients you need.
Not all supplements are the same
We need to keep in mind, that unlike in medications and pharmaceuticals, there is very little regulation in the supplement category. Some supplements are made of natural ingredients, some are synthetic, most are mixed. There are also many different types even of one nutrient (vitamins, for example). This means it isn’t easy to be sure that a supplement delivers what it’s supposed to. You (or someone else) needs to do your homework. Don’t rely only on what the producer tells you.
Professional Help Can Make a Huge Difference
Supplements is one area where professional help can make a huge difference. A professional trainer or nutritionist (and we work with many here in Grande Prairie) can help identify your needs and suggest good, wholesome supplements to balance out your diet.
Contact us today to discuss your needs and let us help you toward better health through the proper use of supplements.