Part 1 of the Slippery Slope Series helped define who needs to supplement and why. Part 2 will help identify the Six Staple Supplements the athletic rider might consider to create a nutrition ‘insurance policy’ to cover the losses of nutrients found in even the most nutrient dense superfoods.
There are 6 areas where most people fall short in nutrition. Even the most conscientious foodie will have good days and bad days. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the majority of Americans are falling terribly short on the bad days and even the good days are marginal in many cases.
If you fall in one of those categories (and I do), then consider adding one or more of the following supplements on your bad days or daily as a nutritional insurance policy on your good days. Goodness knows living on a farm can cause even the best laid breakfast or dinner plans to be foiled because of an injured animal, a busted up fence or just plain ole end of the day exhaustion. Sometimes we just can’t get in everything we need to keep our amazing machine, our body, running at peak performance.
So what supplements are considered essential by nutrition experts such as Dr John Berardi of Precision Nutrition or Daren Olien, Exercise Physiologist and Nutrition?
1. Protein: While lean meats or plant based proteins are best, a high quality protein supplement is a real time saver for the busy rider. The average woman needs 20-30 grams of protein each meal. Men need twice as much. I know I fall short almost daily-especially with the cost of grass fed beef and poultry, not to mention the difficulty in finding them. Because I prefer to avoid GMO-foods, soy based products are off my list. The result? A protein supplement is simply a must for me.
2. Fish Oil Supplement: Our body functions best with a diet that consists of a 1:1 Omega 6:Omega 3 balance. Seafood, wild game, and many plants have a high Omega 3 profile. Because of the average Americans diet includes high intake of corn/corn oil, soybeans/vegetable oil, and factory farmed meat and poultry, most people end up with about a 16:1 Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio. Some are even as high as 20:1. No wonder so many people are suffering from inflammation, poor cardiovascular function, increased cases of Alzheimer’s and overall poor metabolism. Omega 3 fats also keep our cell membranes fluid, critical for healthy brain function. Fish oil is an excellent source of Omega 3 Fatty acids.
3. Greens Supplement: American should be eating 10-15 servings of vegetables and fruits a day to meet basic nutrient needs. Falling short? A greens supplement will help fill in the gap.
4. Multivitamin/Multimineral: Most North Americans are marginally deficient in several micronutrients. One study assessed 70 diets of people trying to “eat well.” Everyone single one came up short. You can read more details about that study here: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/balanced-diet-isnt-enough.
5. Protein+Carbohydrate Recovery Drink: If you are involved in high intensity exercise (meaning going at it hard for about an hour+), your body will recover faster and improve athletic performance when you use a recovery drink during those hardcore workouts. A recovery drink will replenish glycogen, decrease breakdown and increase protein synthesis. In other words it will make you feel better in less time after your workout, it will preserve the muscle that you do have and help create more.*
6. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): BCAAs are also recommended during workouts when fat loss/muscle preservation is the goal. If you are interested in losing a lot of fat, opt for the BCAAs instead of the recovery drink.
At first glance, the list might be a little intimidating. When you break it down, it is actually just filling the gaps that are meant to be provided from a diet rich in nutrient dense whole foods. A diet that is increasingly difficult to create in today’s busy over-processed world.
In Part 3, I will share a product that I personally use (and why) as well as offer some product recommendations from Dr John Berardi, Precision Nutrition.
*Recommendations for recovery drinks range from drinking a drink with 30g carbs/15g protein in 500 ml of water to drinking a clean ingredient drink with a 4:1 carb:protein ratio. Why the range? We are still individuals so a little trial and error may be needed to find the mix that works for you. Ideally you would drink your recovery drink during or within about 45 minutes of your workout to get the best benefit.