“Take this pill and lose 10 lbs. in 10 days!”
“Sprinkle this on every meal and drop a pant size in 1 week!”
“Drink these shakes 3 times a day and watch your belly fat melt away!”
If you watch TV, read magazines, or surf the internet at all, you are probably bombarded with messages like these all the time. They make losing body fat and getting the body of your dreams sound as easy as: ordering their product, using it for a few weeks and voila, you have your dream body!
Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s not quite that easy. If you read the fine print, you will see that most subjects ate a restricted calorie diet and/or exercised while taking the product, and you will also see something that says, “RESULTS NOT TYPICAL.” Pretty sneaky, huh?
So are there any supplements that can help you get your dream body? In my experience there are definitely a few supplements that can help. The cool thing is, they help by improving your overall health. You see, when your body is healthy, it’s much less likely to cling on to excess body fat.
However, you must remember that supplements are just that… supplements! They supplement a proper nutrition and exercise program.
So once you have those things in order, you might consider buying some of the products I am going to recommend below.
Please keep in mind when reading these recommendations that the quality of certain supplements can vary drastically from one brand to another. I am recommending certain brands below because I have used a number of different brands and these are the ones that I trust. In the spirit of full disclosure, we are affiliates for a few of these products. So buying from these links will help support the efforts of Girls Gone Strong, and allow us to continue putting out great content for FREE! So if you’re going to buy, we would appreciate you buying through our links so we can keep GGS going strong. Thank you in advance for your support.
Finally, please consult your Doctor before beginning any new supplement regimen.
1. Vitamin D – Vitamin D, which is not actually a vitamin but a pro-hormone, has gotten a lot of press lately as more and more research confirms its importance. It’s so important in fact, that some Doctors are calling Vitamin D, “the single most cost-effective medical intervention in the United States,” and many of us are deficient in it.
Many people should be supplementing with around 4000-8000 IU’s a day, or sometimes more, if they don’t get much sun exposure. That being said, it’s very important to get your levels tested to prevent Vitamin D toxicity, which is unlikely, but still possible.
Quick tip: Keep in mind there is a difference between “normal” vitamin D level and optimal vitamin D levels. Remember, you are not trying to barely prevent rickets; you are trying to optimize your health. The Vitamin D council recommends that your Vitamin D level is at least 50 ng/mL. Mine level is usually between 70 and 80 ng/mL. I like the Pure Encapsulations brand.
2. Fish Oil – You may have heard that you should be taking fish oil for your health, but you may not know why. Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids EPA, DHA, and ALA, all of which have unique health benefits ranging from improving brain function and blood pressure, to improving symptoms of ADHD, bi-polar disorder, and even rheumatoid arthritis. While you can get Omega-3 fatty acids from eating algae, walnuts, flaxseeds, and a variety of fish, most of us still don’t get enough, especially compared to the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids we get. And a major imbalance of Omega-6’s to Omega-3’s can cause inflammation, and chronic inflammation is very bad for your long-term health. 3-5 grams a day of fish oil is great for most people.
Quick tip: Where you get your fish oil is of the utmost importance. A low quality source won’t have near the benefits of a higher quality source, plus you may have some heavy metal toxicity issues with lower quality source. We love the Omega 3 from Athletic Greens as well as Nordic Naturals.
3. Probiotic – Mmm… bacteria. Yes, bacteria. It may not sound very exciting, but the good bacteria you have in your gut are very important for keeping you healthy. Unfortunately, stress, poor nutrition, and antibiotics all play a role in destroying those good bacteria. But there’s hope! A high quality probiotic can replenish the good bacteria, aid in digestion, improve absorption of certain nutrients, and improve overall immune system function.
Quick tip: Take your probiotic 15 minutes before your first meal of the day for best results. You also want to make sure you take it at least 3 hours before or after you take an antibiotic to avoid decreasing the efficacy, and once you’re off the antibiotics, you might want to double up the dosage for a few days. Mercola makes a pretty good probiotic.
4. Digestive Enzyme – Everything from stress to aging to antibiotics to carbonated beverages can wreak havoc on your digestive system. And if you’re not digesting your food well, you’re sure as heck not getting the nutrition you could be getting! Taking a digestive enzyme with each meal can be a good idea, to ensure you’re getting the most benefit from you’re food.
Quick tip: Make sure you’re taking the time to chew your food thoroughly. Digestion begins in the mouth, and you’d be well served to take the time to chew your food until it’s almost a liquid before swallowing it. Sounds kinda gross, but very helpful! That, along with a digestive enzyme with your meals will help you get the most out of your meals. One of our favorite digestive enzymes is also from Mercola, and you can get your enzymes via Athletic Greens.
5. Whole Food Multi-Vitamin – If I were a betting woman, I’d say that your first foray into the world of supplements was a multi-vitamin. Maybe it was a Flintstones vitamin (no judgment!) or maybe you just picked up Centrum vitamins because you recognized the name. Regardless, somewhere along the way, you decided that you should probably take a multi-vitamin to improve your health.
Well, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news? You’re right! Multi-vitamins can be very beneficial. The bad news? The ones you’ve been taking probably aren’t worth a darn. Oops.
See, the problem with some multi-vitamins is that the levels of many vitamins and minerals are very low and/or from low quality sources so they are not absorbed well by the body. They also come in hard capsules that are difficult to digest and contain lots of binders and fillers. I much prefer a whole food multi-vitamin using high quality food sources like Athletic Greens, and you can find your fish oil at Athletic Greens too!
Quick tip: Most whole food multi-vitamins needs to be refrigerated once they are open to retain their freshness and potency. This is important so don’t forget it!
6. Bonus Supplement (***5 is a nice, round number for a list, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention protein powder because I get so many questions about it!)
Protein Powder – As you’ve probably gathered by now, here at Girls Gone Strong, we aren’t pushing protein powder in your face every 5 seconds as the “magic key” to fat loss and health. That being said, we do enjoy the occasional protein shake, and have been known to bake with protein powder as well.
And we do recommend taking a protein powder supplement if you struggle to get in enough protein, or have certain times during the day where you struggle to eat solid food (i.e. right before/after a workout, when you’re super busy, etc.). Protein shakes are also great immediately post-workout to get protein to your muscles for repair. But again, whole foods work well too.
Quick tip: If you are going to get protein powder, you must get a high quality powder. Not only will it mix better, taste better, and absorb better, but it’s much less likely to upset your stomach like other protein powders may have in the past. We LOVE the Biotrust brand of protein for it’s taste and it’s ingredients.
Like I mentioned above, certain supplements can be a great addition to a sound nutrition and exercise program, so make sure that those are your top priority. But when you are ready, please turn to the recommendations above to improve your health and your appearance.