I recently wrote a post for Creekside Gym’s blog all about supplements, which covers general recommendations, as well as what to look for in a supplement.
But the way I see it, there’s a number of questions that we need to ask ourselves before we even consider what supplements we should be investing in.
Can you afford it?
Let’s face it - if there isn’t enough moolah in your budget each month after covering the basics (and the savings you want to make), well, let’s skip the supp talk. We got bigger fish to fry.
Are you clear on your goals?
Before you consider spending your hard-earned money on supplements, let’s take a minute and make sure we are clear on what you are trying to achieve here. Are you trying to…
Put on muscle mass?
Increase your endurance?
Fix a deficiency?
***Word of caution when it comes to pure “health” or “therapeutic” goals, such as fixing a vitamin deficiency: if this is you, you need to speak to a doctor about it. Reading reviews online and a blog post (or 10!) is not a responsible way to fix a health issue. Period.
Are you sleeping 7-8 hours a night?
I read somewhere that if the benefits of getting adequate sleep were attributed to a newly-discovered supplement, it would be considered a banned substance. Sleep is THAT potent! It helps improve your mood, recovery, hunger levels, insulin sensitivity, focus, hand-eye coordination, judgement… and the best part is, it’s FREE!!
If 7-8 hours a night doesn’t seem attainable to you at this point, know that any improvement in that direction will help. That is to say, if you are only sleeping 5hrs/night right now, then just increasing that number to 5:15 or 5:30 per night will already be a step in the right direction.
Are you managing your stress effectively?
I don’t think I am surprising anyone here by stating that high levels of stress are linked to decreases in athletic performance, sleep quality (see above), disrupted hunger signals, increased abdominal fat, and a host of other, more serious problems, like heart disease.
The kicker here, is that high levels of stress seem to be linked to these problems specifically in individuals that believe that stress is bad.
In other words, change your mindset, change your life! But really, even if you view stress positively, we could all stand to chill a little more. And if you are currently not managing your stress effectively, I urge you to spend the time and resources you were looking to spend on supplements on handling your stress better, first. Your body, mind and those around you will thank you.
Are you drinking enough water?
I have already written about the benefits of drinking enough water on Instagram (who knows, maybe I’ll make a blog post about it too, one of these days). Adequate hydration (including electrolytes!) is such a key element in virtually everything we do and experience (from coordination, to mood, to focus, to hunger, you name it!) that we’d be crazy not to get it dialed before looking into fancy pills and powders. Especially given that it’s free!
Are you eating 6-800g of produce daily?
Not a word of a lie, when people ask me what I do for a living and I need to explain what nutrition coaching entails, 9 time out of 10 I explain that I tell grown-ups to eat their veggies.
But much like with water, the benefits of eating adequate produce are innumerable. I won’t bore you with the details, as I’ve already written about the importance of getting enough veggies into your diet. Let’s just say that if you are unsure how to add produce to your diet, I’ve got you covered! Just click here to download Vegge Out. Once you are getting 800g of fruit and vegetables each day, we’ll consider your supplements needs.
Do you have a healthy digestive system?
What’s the point of taking supplements if you don’t have the ability to absorb them? In house terms, it’d be the equivalent of cranking the heat in the middle of winter instead of fixing a broken window.
If you have doubts about the integrity of your digestive system, or if you are looking to supplement to improve it, I urge you to seek professional help! Health concerns like this one are not to be taken lightly, so don’t be afraid to talk about poop with your doc.
Once you’ve given each of those questions a thought, I encourage you to head over to my article on Creekside Gym’s website for more specific recommendations.
If you’re a visual learner like me, I encourage you to download the Supplement Decision Guide that I created for you! It takes you through each question that we’ve already covered in this article. Give it a try! Just drop your email in the form below to download it.