Sunday, June 17, 2012

Diet and Supplements, Random Thoughts

Supplements. Who needs them? I'm far from an expert on the subject. I'm not a registered dietician, I have no formal higher education in nutrition. I have no certificates on the wall. What I do have is personal experience with myself and clients, and observing first hand with them what works and what does not. I have collaborated with countless other trainers, coaches, and athletes, read more books and articles than I can remember on the topic, and basically made myself a student (though informally) on the subject. One can amass at least as much, if not more knowledge on a subject through their own organic curiosity as can be done in a classroom setting. Minus the indoctrination, but that's a different subject.

The subject of diet, nutrition, and supplements can take on quasi religious overtones. There are strong opinions and people get passionate and take it very personally. I prefer an objective, critical, unbiased, dispassionate approach.  To keep this brief, and not take up a lot of your time on Father's Day here are some personal observations for you to consider, somewhat random and in no particular order.

  • Cleaning up your diet is a far better idea than stacking supplements on top of a crap diet
  • You don't need fat-burners, pre-workout stimulants, pro-hormones, etc...etc...most if not all of them don't work at all or can cause long term harm. 
  • Beware of reading articles that look and smell legit, check and see who's behind them, what they're selling, and then be very skeptical 
  • Be very skeptical about everything, dig deeper, check and re-check facts from different sources
  • A simple whey or egg protein powder is adequate for post-workout recovery
  • Excessive use of pre-workout stimulants can cause adrenal fatigue and burnout
  • Many of the ingredients listed in various supplements are not approved by the FDA, have unknown side effects, inconclusive or no studies to back them up, and often simply do nothing at all
  • The supplement industry makes billions with false promises and wild unsubstantiated claims
  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • The typical western diet is highly inflammatory so a quality fish oil supplement is a good idea
  • Vitamin pills don't give you energy
  • Fat doesn't make you fat, carbohydrate does
  • Fitness magazines and media tend to grossly overstate or sensationalize things
The temptation to believe there are shortcuts to wellness, high performance, improved body composition, mental acuity etc... is nothing new. The unvarnished, straight truth is that anything worth having is going to take hard work and perserverance. You don't get something for nothing. What's the best step you can take to look, feel, and perform better? Clean out your pantry and refrigerator and remove all the highly refined, highly processed, sugar, trans-fat, and preservative laden garbage you've been calling food, and replace it with quality meats, vegetables, some fruit, nuts, seeds, berries, and certain healthy fats and oils, and you will emerge a different human.