One of the more disturbing trends I have seen recently in the fitness world is the incredible over consumption of supplements. As fitness people we hear trainers talk all of the time about the importance of proper nutrition in order to reach your fitness goals, but more often than not I still see people (mostly trainers and other fitness people just because that’s who I see all day) amping ourselves up with energy drinks, protein in the form of powder and sugar and various other types of concoctions that are supposed to help us get to our goals faster somehow.
You can’t open a magazine without hearing that one powder is infinitely more superior than another. You have probably been approached recently by various people who claim that Vi Shakes, Herbalife, NutriSystem or Isagenix are the most amazing weight loss thing on the market right now. The funny thing is that as our society degrades our food supply even further, the very people who are supposed to be keeping your health in mind are usually the ones telling you that it is okay to use these products (and imagine that, you can purchase them right off of your “trainer” too!).
When my clients ask me what they should eat, it is a pretty simple answer: FOOD. One of the best ways I ever heard it put during one of my nutrition courses was pretty simple – stuff that used to be alive in some way. Did it come from the ground? Was it born and raised somehow? Did it breathe, provide oxygen or develop without being manufactured in a facility? Let’s start there, shall we? Last I checked, that protein powder wasn’t actually made from ground up chicken or cow. The casein or whey inside it didn’t come from milk that was actually taken out of an animal. Even my wife’s protein powder, which is vegetarian and GMO and soy free mostly gets it’s protein from Yellow Pea Protein Isolate, but I doubt if they actually ground up the yellow peas in a factory.
I read blogs time to time from various fitness competitors and bodybuilders, and most of the time when they eat a real meal they can’t help but brag about it like it is some magical thing and post pictures of it on the internet. Or they post about how amazing their supplement shakes taste (this post sponsored by Nutrabolics!) or how amazing these things make them feel, without a second thought as to the chemical crap storm these things might be creating within their body long term. Many “diets” that are posted by fitness competitors online always contain at least 2 or 3 protein shakes and other things supposedly designed to increase results. Why couldn’t a competitor just eat a chicken breast instead? Oh, your coach doesn’t sell chicken? Whoops.
The fundamental truth is that if someone can make a profit off of selling people some product, whether it is good for them or not then they are going to do so, but I call this a severe lack of integrity as a fitness professional. Then there are the people who take these things all of the time claiming that they have to due to time constraints or the fact they are “too busy”. I always call BS on this because basically what it comes down to is poor time management skills. I can create a healthy meal with stuff from my cupboards in 10-15 minutes that has all the major macronutrients (and often do when I get home). If you have no time, then you simply aren’t managing it very well. I’ll admit that time management is crucial for this type of thing, but putting eight chicken breasts in the oven instead of 1 just makes sense because then you have no excuse. We use our slow cooker to make 3 days worth of meals at once and they are generally pretty healthy and easy.
If you’re driving around and get hungry, there is no need to stop at a drive through when grocery stores are now open 24 hours and are everywhere. God forbid you actually have to get out of your car and walk into the store and take 10 minutes to buy something. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Buy enough things to last you the day, not just a meal. Keep non-perishable food in your car or office (there are lots of easy ways to do this). It amazes me when people would rather go out and spend $30 at a restaurant at one meal when you can buy two days worth of groceries for the same amount, and these are the same people who say, “I can’t afford to eat healthy”. Well, you also can’t afford to eat lazy. There’s a reason your body isn’t very happy, and it’s probably because it is sick and tired of the crap you are putting into it.
Even if you can’t do this all of the time, please make sure that you do it more often than not. The word “supplement” means just that – something intended to provide nutrients that may be missing or not consumed in sufficient quantities in a persons’ diet. The main issue there being the diet itself. There is no reason beyond allergies that you shouldn’t be able to eat the things that you need to when you really get down to it. In the fish world alone there are about 50 different choices. If your body doesn’t like it then it will tell you and then you just need to find something else. But you do have to plan ahead.
So lets as a group start a new trend within the fitness world and beyond. Ready? Instead of reaching for a shake, eat something real. Fuel your body with things that are designed by nature to provide energy, not get it in a chemical shot. Stop buying things because it is more convenient or because you had some unethical idiot convince you that it is good for you. Try it just for two weeks and see if your body responds in a positive way. I’m pretty sure that it will and you will notice a huge difference. Feel free to let me know what you think!