Setting the Scene for Optimal Nutrition
You’re are what you eat. Think about it for a second…
Every cell in your body turns over every two years, meaning that you are in a constant state of renewal. Your genes and DNA pass copies/instructions over to the new cells that allow you body and physical expression to stay pretty much constant. But as we age, we notice the deterioration physically, functionally and cognitively. That’s just life… but we absolutely can stack the conditions in our favour.
So, if we are constantly replenishing the cells within our body, what do you think fuels this work? Yep – the things you ingest will either help or hinder the complex metabolic and cellular processes that are both critical and usually taken for granted.
If we eat food that is known to be bad for us, be it inflammatory, destructive, nutrient deficient or just throwing the complex orchestration of internal processes out of whack, internally it can represent a war zone of panic and lots of wasted energy trying to correct these wrongs. This energy is taken away from more productive activities, and when combined with having chronic nutrient deficiencies in your diet, the net result is a deterioration of skin, joints, mind, gut, thyroid function, organs and muscle performance and many many more functions within you body. We’ll cover Leaky Gut in a subsequent post.
Prescribed medicines and quick fix pharmaceuticals are not the solution. If you’re putting cheap ineffective fuel into your car, or worse diesel into a petrol engines, it’s obvious you’re going to run into problems. Yet, we’ve not systemically pieced this together within society, that our body needs good fuel to run optimally, and the difference between crap nutrition and ideal nutrition could add decades of youthful experience to our lives as opposed to feeling and looking old way before our time.
Moreover, bad diet is proven to be the lead cause of many societal issues we are grappling with in western culture – such as Obesity, Diabetes, Chronic Fatigue, Arthritis, Gut Conditions, Thyroid issues and mind-related conditions.
“If you’re putting cheap ineffective fuel into your car, or worse diesel into a petrol engines, it’s obvious you’re going to run into problems”
What should we do?
It really starts with having a largely whole-food diet and dialling down on the processed packaged foods. If it’s been scientifically engineered for taste and addictive properties, has tons of marketing thrown at it, and comes in packaging with lots of ingredients then you should look to make these foods a minority of your overall diet.
This is NOT about calories and weight loss (albeit it’s absolutely linked), instead the guiding principle should be about nutrient density in the foods you consume the majority of the time. Follow AdapNation’s Food Diary for ideas and approaches in making nutritious and tasty food that ticks all the boxes. If you can follow this basic principle, across plant-based food and animal meats, you will go a long way towards giving your body what it needs.
In that case, why do Supplements?
For me, I see supplement as a catch all. Certain vitamins and minerals are hard to source from food at the optimal daily volumes, plus our diets vary massively day-to-day. Add to that the need for sufficient protein and healthy fats, especially if you have the goal of developing your muscles, and it just makes sense to optimise your intake to get the best results (on top of a well executed training programme of course).
To be clear, supplements are not essential. If your budget does not allow, or you know your diet is dialled in, then much of supplements I take are just to make sure the reservoirs of said nutrient/thing are maximal. If you only took extra Vitamin D, Fish Oil Tablets and a good Multi-vitamin on top of a good diet, you’d be in a good place.
So what do I take, and why?
FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m seriously dialled in. It’s all about optimising my food and nutrition for maximum benefit. Take a look at what I take and why (at a high level), and make your own decision on what would help support optimal health for you.
- Wellman Sports Multi Vitamin – designed with higher doses of certain vitamins and minerals, plus energy enhancing properties to support an athletic lifestyle.
- Omega 3 Fish Oil – 2x 1000mg capsules a day, with high concentrations of DHA and EPA. Important for cognitive function, joint health and hormone production.
- Vitamin D3 – Best source of Vitamin D is actually sun exposure. Vitamin D is a critical hormone for recovery and repair within the body. Maximise your intake, especially in the cold and dark months where skin exposure to sunlight is minimal. See this Vitamin D Article.
- Probiotic – Minimum of 20 billion CFU’s. I strongly believe gut health determines overall health. Taking probiotics, eating prebiotic food and minimising food that fuels bad bacteria in the gut is a guiding principle in my diet. The amount of genes in our micro biome outnumber our genes in our genome by a staggering 100 to 1. To a degree, you get to choose which bacteria (and therefore gene expression) that live in your gut. Mind-blowing! I take Intelligent Labs Probiotics and Prebiotics – has 50 billion CFU’s from 10 strain species and has built-in prebiotic that helps the probiotics survive.
- ZMA & Magnesium – Zinc and Magnesium are typically deficient in most average western diets. Supplementing with these minerals aids with rest and recovery. Very important if you are needed to repair worked out muscles and calm the nervous system before going to bed. Check out this AdapNation Top Tip Article on Magnesium.
- B-Complex – Commonly known as the vitamin B complex, the 8 Bvitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12) play vital roles in ensuring that our bodies operate efficiently and as they should. Each vitamin holds a multitude of benefits for the body. This Myprotein article has a nice summary of functions and benefits of these vitamins. Go for a high-strength tablet, such as Holland & Barrett’s Mega B-100.
- Resveratrol – Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. They’re thought to act like antioxidants, protecting the body against damage. It’s in the skin of red grapes, but you can also find it in peanuts and berries. Resvratrol Has Anti-Aging and Anti-Cancer Effects, protects Cardiovascular Health., helps protect the Brain and Cognitive/Mental Health and may even help prevent Obesity.
- Caffeine Tablets – Not needed, unless you feel the benefit pre-workout. Personally, it makes a difference to my workouts as I train early in the morning. Gets things fired up, and wakes up my mind to go lift heavy. Or, I drink my Awesome Morning Fuel concoction!
Powders & Liquids:
- Whey, Casein and Vegan Protein Powders – I take Whey/Vegan Protein prior to a workout, same again post workout and Casein just before bed. Now, this is highly optimised, and not essential. Whey is clean and has fast absorption of 15-30mins. Vegan protein (rice, pea and hemp) absorbs slightly slower than Whey, and the Awesome Supplements Vegan Protein I take is delicious! Casein coagulates in the stomach and therefore is absorbed slowly over the course of 5-8 hours – perfect for fuelling anabolic protein synthesis whilst you sleep.
- Creatine – A must have, for anyone pursuing any fitness goals. We all have a creatine store within our muscles to assist with energy and force production when needed. The thing is, we deplete that energy too quickly when we work out, and getting enough Creatine is difficult, especially if you have little/no red meat. Creatine is safe, makes you stronger and fills out your muscles.
- Bone Broth – All the rage at the minute, Bone Broth claims to be a super addition to your diet. The active ingredient being collagen, that is not regularly consumed in normal diets. Assists with protecting joints, maintaining healthy skin, supporting a healthy gut, general immunity and promotes anabolism. I take a gravy-like supplement from Best Of The Bone (Black Pepper & Turmeric option), that I mix into hot water. Just tastes like a healthy cup-a-soup.
- Pre & Post Workouts – To be honest, only take a pre workout if you can afford it, have bold goals for your gym/body, and ultimately if it makes a noticeable difference. For me, it’s that extra little assist. For post workout, it’s really about creatine, plus perhaps a couple other ingredients that help with restoration and recovery from pushing hard. For both, I use Legion’s products Pulse and Recharge.
- Green Drink – Personally, I take Legion’s Genesis product as and when I feel I need it. It’s got things such as Reishi mushroom, Spirulina, Maca and Broccoli Sprout. Basically, these green drinks help with general immunity, heart health, increased energy levels and mood.
- Colostrum Powder – Colostrum is the “immune milk” produced by all mammals for only the first few hours before and after birth. Its adaptogenic properties have been known to enhance rejuvenation and regeneration while strengthening the immune system, allowing your body to thrive under any circumstance. We’re taking Grade A Surthrival UK’s Colostrum as a trial, to help support optimal rejuvenation of the intestinal lining.
- Reishi Mushroom Powder – Reishi Mushrooms are one of the most revered herbs in traditional Chinese Medicine. Reishi mushroom is used for boosting the immune system. Other uses include reducing stress and preventing fatigue. It is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammotary. It is often added to Green drinks. I’m adding a little Reishi Powder to my “Awesome” Morning Fuel to add in some extra goodness first thing int he morning.
Does Supplement Timing Matter?
This may surprise you, but it actually does. The primary considerations are:
- Can the supplement cause any GI distress. If so, best taken with food.
- Does the supplement struggle making it’s way through the GI tract? For example, Probiotics. In that case, take on empty stomach or with a little fatty food source.
- Is the Supplement fat-soluble? I.e. does it need fat to transport it to your cells. If so, take with food that has a fat source.
- Is the supplement designed to acutely excite or enhance performance? If so, take before a workout or in the morning.
- Does the supplement offer calming, recovery or restorative properties? Think about taking these supplements before bed (e.g ZMA and Casein) or after a workout.
Ultimately, do what you can
I am by no means advocating that the only way to lead a vital life is to follow my supplement and nutrition regime. Instead, I hope you feel a little more informed on what supplements are likely to offer broad value for the general population, specific to whether you are physically active or trying to deal with some wellness symptoms through nutrition.
Take what resonates with you most, and remember the most important thing is to get your diet in check. When you get to the level of wishing to optimise beyond diet, augment with supplements that you can afford and make a difference to how you feel.
Lastly, don’t expect a supplement to change your world in a day, or a week even. You are trying to restore optimal balance in your body on an ongoing basis, and that takes time. Once diet and sleep are in a good place, give a supplement a month or so of consistent recommended dosing, and look to take a read of the subjective areas of mood, energy and wellbeing, as well as objective measurements such as bloat, gas, performance in the gym, hunger control, muscle size and sleep quality.
Follow this blog as it unfolds. Comment if you have questions or ideas.