Recent headlines touting new studies that multi-vitamins are essentially worthless are all over the media. In some cases, these studies show that anti-oxidents (vitamin A, C & E) actually seem to promote disease rather than cure it.
Based on data collected from over 27,000 people during a six-year period, an NIH-funded study found that people who took multivitamins had about the same risk of dying as those who got their vitamins through food. Also, benefits from the intake of vitamin A, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, and copper were limited to food consumption, not to supplements.
This study (published in the Annals of Internal Medicine) also suggested that some supplements are probably harmful to your health when taken in excess. For instance, people who took over 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day were more likely to die of cancer than those who didn’t.
However, this doesn’t mean that all supplements are worthless. Though diet and exercise are the main keys to fitness, there are some great supplements for weight loss and muscle building. The key is to use all supplements in moderation and always speak to your doctor if you have any heath concerns.
Supplements for Weight Loss
- Glucomannan- A fiber taken from the konjac root, an Asian plant. Studies show this fiber helps with modest weight loss by blocking cholesterol and glucose from being absorbed. It also helps with appetite control. NOTE: Always take this supplement with plenty of water to avoid a choking hazard and anyone with preexisting esophageal problems should avoid glucomannan in all forms.
- Coffee- Coffee contains caffeine which increases your metabolism and promotes fat mobilization from the body. Coffee can also decrease your appetite–just be careful about added cream and sugar! Coffee may help you exercise harder and longer. Many over the counter fat burners contain caffeine, but coffee is natural and healthier alternative.
- Green tea- If coffee bothers you, try green tea. Green tea contains less caffeine but also burns fat because it contains beneficial catechins. About three cups of green tea a day are needed to promote small amounts of weight loss. Personally, I use a supplement.
- Selenium- The mineral selenium seems to promote leaner body mass and a higher functioning thyroid. Selenium is found in Brazil nuts and seafood. While more research may be necessary, if you suspect your thyroid is under functioning, give this supplement a try.
- CLA- Conjugated Linolic Acid is a type of fat found in meat and dairy products. Though the results are modest, CLA can help people lose weight, mostly around the belly while sparing muscle mass. CLA also has other health benefits such as prevention of cancer and heart disease. This is one of the healthiest supplements for weight loss.
Supplements For Muscle Building
- Creatine- Creatine is a widely studied supplement in the bodybuilding industry. Creatine improves strength, increases lean muscle, and helps with recovery. This boost may help athletes achieve bursts of speed and energy. That’s especially helpful during short bouts of high-intensity activities such as weight-lifting, sprinting or playing sports like tennis.
- Whey Protein- Several studies have shown that whey is an easily digestible form of protien that helps the body build muscle. In fact, human breast milk is 60% whey, compared to 20% in cow’s milk! The proteins in whey are high quality and contain the essential amino acids leucine and cysteine which are critical to muscles.
- Beta-Alanine- Beta-Alanine is an amino acid that increases exercise performance, leading to added muscle. This supplement works well for people playing intense sports, but the effect is only moderate. You can expect an additional 0ne pound of muscle added after six weeks of use. The effect will eventually taper off, but this is a worthwhile supplement for a beginner.
- L-Carnitine- For older adults, this amino acid can help build muscle. People under 50 probably don’t need this supplement. Studies have shown older adults are often low in this amino acid. L-carnitine helps the body produce energy. It is important for heart and brain function, muscle movement, and many other body processes.
- Dextose- Dextrose is a simple sugar that feeds the muscle directly and is not stored in the liver like other sugars. If you are a low-carb dieter or if your workouts are intense, your muscles will quickly become depleted of glucose. Muscles don’t repair or grow well when starved of glucose. If you are struggling with energy before or after your workout routine, try adding some dextrose to your pre-workout and post-workout and see if this helps with recovery.
It would be fantastic if there were a magic pill for weight loss and muscle building! We know slick marketers have been trying to tell us that lie for years. Wow, you can pop a pill and suddenly lose weight and get ripped!
Sadly, it’s not true. Diet and exercise are responsible for at least 95% of your progress. No supplement, no pill or shake will ever produce the results of eating right and working out. Consistency in diet and exercise is the number one key to getting fit. This is the reality.
That being said, if your diet is reeled in and your workouts are on point–there are supplements that can give you an edge. Especially whey protein and creatine. I would put these as the two most important supplements for both losing weight and building muscle mass.
Coffee, green tea and dextrose are also beneficial. Every supplement on these lists is inexpensive, safe and well-tolerated. Mix and match and see how your body responds.
If you aren’t consistant yet with your diet and exercise, come on in to Flex15 and try a month on us. Talk to our personal trainers and see how they can help you today!