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5 Essential Supplements You Don’t Want to Be Without

  Mar 20th, 2013

Essential Supplements for Your Health and PerformanceSupplementation is usually a topic of mire and contempt on this blog. Click here to see what I mean.

 

You see, supplements and I have a rather tainted past. I’ve spent far too much of my hard-earned money on supplements with little or nothing to show for it.

 

I don’t know about you, but I work hard for every dollar I have and having it wasted doesn’t sit very well with me.

 

As time has gone on I’ve expanded my horizons and gained a level of discernment that has made me realize that there are a few supplements worth investing in.

 

This doesn’t mean that they’re a necessity to build muscle, burn fat, gain strength or get ripped (far from it); just that they do serve a justifiable purpose.

 

Nevertheless, the vast majority of supplements are still a complete waste of money when it comes to the tangible results they provide.

 

That being said, there are 5 essential supplements you don’t want to be without. These are all supplements I take on a regular basis.

 

Not because I need them to maintain my ripped physique, or to continue to build muscle mass, but because they provide a number of other benefits for my body I’d be a fool to ignore.

 

All-Natural Complete Protein Supplement

Rose Acres Farms Egg White Protein PowderI know, who doesn’t have a protein supplement these days? A protein supplement is absolutely essential because it provides a quick and convenient way to quickly get in our protein requirements for any given day or meal.

 

No matter how busy life can get, there’s never an excuse for depriving your body of protein when you have a tub of protein powder at the ready.

 

Unfortunately, most whey protein supplements contain a certain amount of soy, are made from hormone and pesticide infested cows, are estrogenic, are made with incomplete proteins and have artificial ingredients that will compromise your health.

 

This doesn’t sit well with me. If it doesn’t sit well with you either, you have a couple of options:

 

  1. Pay a decent amount more for an all-natural whey protein supplement that comes from grass fed cows, like this one
  2. Replace your whey protein supplement with an egg white protein powder supplement

 

I personally use this all-natural egg white protein powder alternative, because it’s very affordable. It’s actually about 20% cheaper per gram of protein than what you’d get in a 5lb tub of Optimum Nutrition whey protein.

 

But be careful not to hammer back two or three egg white powder shakes. If you do, it’ll give you room-clearing gas and you’ll probably have to find a new group of friends when it’s all said and done.

 

Keep it to one shake a day and you’ll be fine. If you choose to defy my advice, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

Fish Oils

I dare say the benefits of taking a fish oil supplement are common knowledge among those of us with an internet connection and a set of literacy skills that exceed a 2nd grade level. Lucky for you, I read at a 4th grade level. 😉

 

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils has been linked to increased heart health, cancer prevention, accelerated fat loss, improved skin health and optimal hormone function, to name a few. So it’s kind of important.

 

The amount of fish oil “experts” recommend to take on a daily basis can vary widely. The American Heart Association, for instance, recommends 1,000mg of Omega-3 each day.

 

By the way, fish oil is not the same as Omega-3 fish oil.

 

Make sure you check your fish oil supplement label to see how much Omega-3 each pill contains because that is the important fatty acid you ought to be concerned with when taking a fish oil supplement.

 

Despite what the American Heart Association says, my research has indicated that a dose of 3,000mg of Omega-3 is sufficient for most individuals, even those who are active and train hard. In case you’re wondering, this is also the amount I take every day.

 

Keep in mind that AHA recommendations are based on the needs of the average American, not those who train at a high level.

 

Greens Supplement

Top Supplements - Athletic GreensProteins and grains make up a large percentage of the diets of most Americans.

 

These foods can have their benefits (especially complete proteins), but they also increase the acidity of our bodies, which can pose a number of problems: increased cortisol, less testosterone/growth hormone, muscle loss and a host of other debilitating illnesses.

 

After reading The Renegade Diet I’ve found myself increasingly eating fewer and fewer grains, but I’m not sure I’ll ever cut them out completely. So, I use a greens supplement as an “insurance policy” against the increase in acidity caused by these foods.

 

A quality greens supplement will balance your body’s PH by providing it with a number of alkaline (base) nutrients and antioxidants.

 

While I have found that my energy levels have been slightly enhanced while using a greens supplement, truth be told, much of why I use it is taken on faith. I suppose I could have my PH levels checked, but I’m not ready to take it there. At least not yet, anyway.

 

I use the ItWorks! brand greens supplement, but I know others that swear by (and promote) the Athletic Greens brand. Either way, with all the acidic crap we intentionally ingest, along with those we’re unintentionally exposed to on a daily basis, it’s money well spent.

 

Maca Root

Top Supplements - MacaI was first turned on to using a Maca supplement a couple years back on a recommendation and free sample from a good friend of mine that had started selling it as a side business.

 

I had honestly never heard of Maca before then. After doing a little research to make sure it was safe, and seeing that it was all-natural with no known side effects, I decided to give it a try.

 

Maca is a root that Peruvians have been taking for centuries for a variety of reasons.

 

It is often taken as a libido and fertility enhancer, which I can confirm it most certainly is (more on this in a moment), but there are a number of other benefits that make it worth considering.

 

One thing I noticed almost immediately after I started supplementing with Maca was an increase in mental focus. For someone with ADHD… Wait, what were we talking about… Oh yeah…

 

As someone who has a case of self-diagnosed ADHD, additional focus is always welcome.

 

I have also found it to easier to deal with stress when using Maca. Excess stress will wreak havoc on your cortisol levels and hinder any attempts you make at losing fat.

 

I’ve also read claims of Maca improving endocrine health, correcting hormonal imbalances (particularly among menopausal women), helping with depression and increasing energy. I can’t personally attest to these benefits, but feel they are worth mentioning, nonetheless.

 

Maca is also very affordable. You can get a one month supply for around $10 on Amazon.com.

 

As I mentioned earlier, if you aren’t ready to start a family, make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions if you’re a guy who’s taking Maca and isn’t ready to take that step in life.

 

Two of my three children were conceived while I was taking Maca. It may just be a coincidence, but both times it happened the month I started using it after a few months off of it.

 

I actually sent my Maca-dealing buddy an email to let him know the good news that my wife was pregnant with our 3rd child using the subject line, “The Maca Strikes Again…”

 

BCAA Supplements

Top Supplements - Biotrust BCAAIf you like to train in the morning before eating, taking 10g of these BCAAs before and after you train will prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue that can occur when training in a fasted state without BCAAs present.

 

This is a strategy employed by many using The Renegade Diet with a great deal of success. There are a number of other trainers who recommend this strategy as well.

 

Just because I haven’t listed a supplement above doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s junk (though experience tells me that it probably is).

 

Creatine and multivitamins are two that probably could have made the list, though I don’t feel they’re as essential for overall health and performance as combining a healthy eating plan and regular training with the 5 I’ve gone through above.

 

Unless you can afford to throw away a couple hundred dollars a month on useless supplements, you’ll want to be smart about what supplements you choose to invest in.

 

Hopefully I’ve helped to make that decision a little easier (and healthier) on you.

 

 

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