Thank you to the Council For Responsible Nutrition for sponsoring this post. Learn more about how #SARMsCanHarm at crnusa.org/SARMs! Smalls got cleared to play sports last month, as long as they don’t require full contact. (Football is a no, but soccer or swimming is a yes, for example). It means I’ve been researching vitamins and supplements for myself too.
The Scoop on Vitamins and Supplements
Which means that we’re about to become a lot more active, and that means that I need to make sure that I am focusing on my fitness and making my health a top priority. To that end, I’ve been using my Pilates tower regularly, I joined a Roller Derby 101 class (again), and I am using shakes and supplements to support my health in a much more conscious way.
So far, I’m building muscle (and finding a few that I forgot I had), and I’m finding that properly fueling my body makes all the difference.
The problem is that while I understand what needs to be done to maintain a healthy lifestyle, there seem to be so.many.options.
Which shake is best?
Which workout is going to make my body look its best?
What can I do with a short amount of time to get the fastest or most impactful results?
Here are 4 ways to support yourself in a healthy routine!
Y’all this is not my first rodeo. I lost 50 pounds before having Smalls, and another 40 pounds before having The Baby.
And it’s about time I did something about this “baby weight” (is it still “baby weight” if the toddler is almost 4?).
I know what worked for me last time, and that was cleaning up my diet, using supplements to support my body, and a daily workout.
And I’m using supplements. Lots of them, actually. It’s challenging to eat a totally clean diet and still maintain my sanity, so I enjoy my share of them.
Let’s Talk Supplements
Not everyone needs the same types of supplements.
For me, I consume a pre-workout drink, recovery drink, and a protein shake on the daily, but if you’re not pushing yourself to the limit, you may find that a recovery drink and a multivitamin are all you need.
I’ll admit it-I used to think that people who drank a “pre-workout” drink were nuts. I mean, so you’re drinking some fruity-tasting concoction instead of water. Great.
But then I started to do some research, and I found that the energy boost that comes from that weird pre-workout drink can actually help you push harder and maintain your stamina longer during a workout.
So, of course, I had to try it. Most pre-workout supplements contain amino acids, which help to speed muscle recovery, caffeine for energy, and creatine (not what you think).
Creatine generates a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is your body’s main source of energy.
When creatine stores in your muscles are depleted, the production of ATP comes to a screeching halt (not good) and your energy level takes a nosedive.
Because I exercise on an empty stomach, I’m usually starving by the time I’m finished, so I’ll enjoy a protein shake or mix a scoop of protein powder into my breakfast to help my muscles recover.
Both are great options for a healthy breakfast. And they are even tastier with a scoop or two of vanilla protein powder.
And, when I’m on the run, I’m totally not ashamed that I will toss a shake in my bag to make sure that I don’t eat takeout.
Post Workout Recovery
One of my favorite things to use both pre and post workout is a high-quality BCAA (branched chain amino acids) supplement. Thankfully, you can get them in all kinds of yummy flavors, though my current favorite is an all natural watermelon flavored one.
BCAAs are made up of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They have been found to significantly reduce muscle soreness and accelerate the growth and recovery process, which means no more “second-day soreness” for me!
What to Avoid
The thing about supplements is that there are so many out there and they all contain different ingredients. So how do you know which ones are safe?
One of the first things I look for when choosing a supplement is for something called “SARMs.”
SARMs are Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. And they’re really, really scary.
They have been found in a number of products masquerading as “dietary supplements.” And y’all should stay far, far away.
SARMs are unapproved drugs, and should not be in any dietary supplements.
Things like SARMs can hide in plain sight (SCARY!!). You should always read the label on your supplements.
SARMs may be hiding and are usually listed as:
OR, they may not be listed in the named ingredients at all.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to purchase your supplements only from companies you know and trust.
Remember, if the labeling sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Exercise Is Important
Let’s be honest. Your workout is the most important part of the workout/supplement equation.
It’s so easy to worry about supplements and skimp on the workout. Try instead to focus on getting your body moving, whenever and however you can.
If that means that some days you workout first thing and some days you do crunches in front of the latest episode of Roseanne, that’s okay.
On a perfect day, my workout routine consists of waking up, getting into my workout clothes, and heading downstairs for a pilates or trampoline workout depending on the day.
If I’m feeling really strong I’ll add 10-15 minutes of rowing before or after.
Because of the types of workouts that I do, I break my muscles down very quickly, which means that I end up with a lot of post-workout soreness.
This could slow me down, but it doesn’t because of how I feed my body.
You Are What You Eat
Yeah, yeah. It’s an old line, but it’s true.
While dietary supplements can help you maintain or improve your health, nothing beats a healthy diet.
Good food plays an important role in good health.
And supplements can help, but if your diet sucks, they aren’t going to fix it. Remember, supplements are a supplement (<<see what I did there??) to your healthy habits and should be used in combination with other smart lifestyle choices.
Shoot to include high-quality proteins, fruits, vegetables, complex carbs (think sweet potatoes), and healthy fats like avocado in your diet. Try to limit the processed yuck to give your body a chance to recover from your workout. Include foods like…
- bananas which have potassium to help speed up recovery and avoid muscle cramps.
- beef or eggs that contain iron which helps muscles work and allows red blood cells carry oxygen to muscles.
- leafy greens that have magnesium to boost your metabolism and strengthen your bones so that you can hopefully avoid fractures or sprains.
Don’t Forget to Take Your Vitamins
Obviously, a healthy diet is important, but we’re not perfect.
But we don’t always get there, which is why taking a high-quality multivitamin is just as important as eating clean.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into a healthy routine, so don’t get too hung up on timing. Keep it simple and don’t stress about it. Get your workout in when you can, and supplement the way you want (just avoid the gross stuff).
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.