All you have to do is walk in a grocery store, health store or even a feed store to realize that the question, “should you supplement” must be on the mind of many Athletic Riders. The answer to the question is actually a simple one but not always easy to implement. Ideally each of us would get our daily requirement of vitamins, minerals and energy from the foods that we eat every day. Ideally we would all eat a wide variety of nutrient filled whole foods and avoid filler foods (that often taste good but provide no real nutritional benefit). Ideally we would have the time, finances and food resources available to accomplish this not-so-small task without ever needing to consider a nutritional supplement.
The problem is most of us don’t live in an ideal world. Most of us don’t have the time to prepare “well-balanced” meals for every meal of the day. Many of us don’t live near an organic farmer or a super farmer’s market that offers the variety of food we would need to eat.. Some of us don’t even like the taste of many of the foods that we should be eating. What’s even worse? Most (if not all) recommended diets result in some kind of nutrient deficiency.† Even the best of hard working athletes who pay particular attention to nutritional intake fall short of the daily recommendation of many micronutrients.¥
If we believe the research, then it does appear that some kind of supplementation would be good nutrition ‘insurance.’ If you are wanting to increase performance or lose weight, it is important that your body receives the vitamins and minerals it needs to perform properly.
Have you ever known anyone (maybe you) who seems to eat less and less food but never loses weight or even gains weight? Have you ever wondered how this happens? Most people assume it is genetic or some kind of metabolic issue that can not be resolved. That is not always the case. Nutrient deficiencies can create an environment that doesn’t allow your body to work properly. In other words, nutrient deficiencies create a “broken body system,” and one of the systems that can break is your metabolism. Eating more of the right kind of food (and supplementing to fill in the missing pieces) can actually repair the broken part, allow your body to function correctly and create a body environment that will allow you to ultimately lose weight.
How do you choose a supplement when there are so many on the market that make so many promises? It seems everyone is trying to sell the ‘best’ product that promises to supplement an “imbalanced diet.” Years ago, when I was searching for answers to this question (not for myself but for my horses), I became an avid label reader. I invested years in researching and learning what different ingredients on labels were and what they were supposed to do. I learned that many health supplements for horses are not healthy at all.
The same is true for human supplements. The most popular human health supplements contain soy, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners like sucralose or have an ingredient list of items that I can’t even pronounce!
When selecting a supplement for myself or my horses, I try to keep it simple:
The product must have an ingredient list that I can pronounce.
The ingredient list must have items that I can recognize as real food (as opposed to a processed product or chemical).
The supplement has to taste good. I am not interested in holding my nose and choking down a meal replacement or snack in the name of healthy living. I have learned that most horses agree with me.
The supplement must also be produced and backed by a company that has integrity and a commitment to helping people live healthy and fulfilling lives. No quick fix diet shakes from a fly-by-night company for this Athletic Rider!
Would you like to learn more about reading labels to have a better understanding of what is in the food and supplements that you currently use or may be considering? Check out The Athletic Rider Clean and Lean in 14 Challenge. I am not going to tell you it is easy but it is a real eye opener.