Supplement Essentials

MJ Lamie

With the wide variety of supplements available on the market today, it can be hard for the average gym goer to determine which are essential for his or her body. As consumers, we are often drawn to shiny labels and incredible claims of energy stimulating pre-workouts, thermogenic fat burners, and protein based weight gainers. However, supplements, which are products used to help compensate for deficiencies caused by exercise or poor diet, are easy to navigate with a few tips. Some can be beneficial to our body if we chose the right ones and take them correctly.

The most important supplement is also the most basic: multivitamins. They are necessary for anyone who exercises on a regular basis, and are often overlooked because they aren’t as glamorous. A multivitamin is a supplement with all the essential vitamins our body needs to function properly, such as Vitamin B. When exercising, vitamins B6 and B12 are depleted at a rapid rate since the body uses them to break down carbohydrates for energy. Calcium is also depleted because it’s used for muscle contractions. Often when we are dieting, foods like fruits, a good source of B vitamins and other nutrients, may not be consumed. So, if you are dieting, it is even more important to take a multivitamin on a daily basis. A multivitamin with a time-release formula is recommended because it won’t secrete all at once, promoting optimal absorption in the body.

Omega-3s are very popular today, and many products highlight the inclusion of them on the label. For example, Joseph’s Bakery’s Lavash bread and Smart Balance peanut butter proudly display their inclusion of Omega-3s and with good reason- they are extremely good for the body. Omega-3s help lower cholesterol, improve cognitive function, lubricate joints, promote vein elasticity, and increase insulin sensitivity. They also help with muscle retention while dieting. Seafood has long served humans as a fantastic natural source of Omega-3s. But today the average American diet doesn’t include seafood on a regular basis. Therefore, this is a supplement well worth taking.

Fiber supplements are often overlooked because they are not glamorous, just like the multivitamin. Psyllium seed husk, for example, has a very subtle taste that goes well in a flavored protein shake. Taking it before bed at night will help you feel fuller and prevent you from waking up too early due to hunger. The function of this supplement is to lower cholesterol, make protein shakes feel more substantial, aid in digestion, and help to regulate the digestive system. Fiber is most important for anyone eating a diet heavy in protein and low in carbs. Fiber also helps us process food more efficiently and keeps the waist tight by reducing bloating.

While we exercise, our joints take a brutal beating because we utilize the same joints multiple times a week. For instance, your elbow joint is involved in many exercises that overlap in different workouts, such as shoulder, chest and arms. This depletes the cartilage in your joints faster than your body can rebuild it with the natural nutrients in your diet. It would surprise anyone in their 20s to experience joint pain. To prevent this, glucosamine and chondroitin is your answer. Glucosamine and chondroitin are found together as one supplement in pill form. Any local supplement shop or online store carries this product in its joint care section. This supplement will aid your body in rebuilding the cartilage at a rapid pace. If you keep working out intensely and consistently, it is possible that in mere months you will experience joint pain. Those of you that lift for power or use heavy weights should consider this supplement. Hyaluronic acid goes well with this supplement, but it isn’t nearly as important as glucosamine and chondroitin.

All of these supplements are gender neutral and can be taken by anyone. Each has been around for a long time and are well known. Consider taking them, especially if you’re taking on a serious workout regimen.

MJ Lamie is a certified personal trainer, a former employee of General Nutrition Centers, a men’s physique competitor and a longtime fitness enthusiast. You can follow him on Twitter @Mjlamie for daily fitness motivation, tips and tricks.