During the summer months, many of us are heading outside to take in the weather. Be it a round of golf with friends, an intense run through the river valley or a game of tennis, one thing we all need to consider is proper nutrition to support our efforts.
Eating healthy “real food” is the foundation of superior athletic performance and optimum health. We have researched a wide array of nutritional supplements, and learned how certain ones can complement your diet, and help take your fitness endeavours to the next level.
In this article, we are going to highlight some “time tested” supplements that we have seen work wonders for those that strategically incorporate them into their summer fitness routines.
Use daily: A Multi-Vitamin & an additional Multi-Mineral or Calcium/Magnesium Complex
We all would like to think that our food is chalk-full of vitamins and minerals. Sadly, this is not the case with modern food processing and manufacturing practices. Ensure that you cover all of your bases by taking a daily multi-vitamin & multi-mineral. This is especially important when your physical demands are higher. When we work our muscles and our respiratory systems we sweat, and lose minerals such as electrolytes, and our bodies need more vitamins to generate energy, (particularly B-vitamins).
What we recommend:
- 3 Canprev Immuno Multi capsules with breakfast
- 1 or 2 Natural Factors Calcium & Magnesium capsules with breakfast. This Calcium-Magnesium complex is in a 1:1 ratio with added zinc and potassium, all lost with perspiration. It is great for sore muscles!
Depending on how much actual sun exposure you are getting you may or may not want to add some extra vitamin D.
Note: Due to magnesium’s muscle relaxing effects, magnesium will increase bowel movements, depending on how sensitive you are, or how much you take. Just be cognitive of this as you may need to reduce dosage.
Protein is important for active bodies. It is needed for proper muscle function, digestive enzyme production and aiding in blood sugar balance.
The protein powders of yesteryears were chalky, didn’t mix well and weren’t palatable. Today’s powders are light-years ahead in development (minimal sugar, no artificial flavours or additives and known allergens). They mix easily and taste fantastic!
Supplementing with a quality whey protein powder is a logical daily addition to your optimal nutrition plan, unless of course you are allergic to dairy. In this case use hemp protein. Next to whey protein, Hemp protein has the best profile of branched chain amino acids among vegetable proteins, so good for building and supporting muscle.
What we recommend: Ultimate 100% High Alpha Whey Isolate
When to use: 1 or 2 scoops with breakfast or 1 or 2 scoops in your post workout drink.
For our vegan friends – Vegan Protein High Protein Formula by Natural Factors
When to use: 1 scoop with breakfast or 1 scoop in your post workout drink.
Note: For those who find hemp protein grainy there are many vegan protein blends to choose from. However, these do tend to be higher in carbohydrates.
Omega 3 Oils
There has been a lot of attention put on Omega 3’s for improving athletic performance. This is primarily because of their anti-inflammatory effect, which supports mitochondrial function, which helps reduce muscle and joint soreness, as well as improves lung function.
Ongoing supplementation results in faster recuperation from exercise. Other notable benefits from using Omega 3 oils in your diet include better looking skin, better brain performance and added cardiovascular support. What’s not to like!
What we recommend: Optimum Health Synergy-3 oil – 1 to 2 tablespoons per day, with food.
For vegetarians, Udo’s Choice oil by Flora has produced good results for many.
Pre – Fitness
BCAA’s (branch-chain amino acids): The BCAA’s, leucine, isoleucine and valine, are 3 unique amino acids found in protein. They make up a significant a portion of your muscle mass, approximately 35%! They are key for optimal athletic performance and significantly reduce muscle catabolism (the wasting away of muscle) when dieting.
Supplementing with BCCA’s increase endurance, reduces muscle soreness, and speeds recovery. They will also produce noticeable increases in strength and workout-intensity.
What we recommend: Any one of our many formula's!
When to use: 5-10 grams can be added to your daily protein shakes or mixed with water and/or diluted juice consumed before, during and post exercise.
Note: many BCAA preparations are extremely hydrophobic, and hard to mix. They also don’t taste very good. So though you will absorb them more efficiently with water or juice, they stay lumpy. For convenience, you can just blend them in a shake.
L- Glutamine: L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. It is mostly found in muscles, and in the lungs where much of it is produced. When you exercise, specifically with weights, your muscles break down, leaving you in a catabolic state. This results in lower muscle glutamine.
If you consume L-glutamine with your post workout meal or shake, you can significantly reduce this breakdown and improve recovery. Three notable mentions about L-glutamine.
This amino acid plays a crucial role in keeping your immune system functioning well, reduces ammonia in the brain (improving cognitive function), and oral administration of L-glutamine significantly reduces diarrhea that often accompanies chemotherapy.
What we recommend: Optimum Health L-Glutamine powder
When to use: 5 – 10 grams on an empty stomach, or in your post workout drink. If it bothers your stomach, just take it with a meal.
Though the absorption may not be as complete in a meal with other proteins, taking it with a meal is still fine for a muscle-support application.
Green Tea Extract: Green tea extract contains high amounts of a class of compounds called polyphenols. More specifically, the polyphenol named ECGC supports weight management by increasing energy expenditure.
Green tea also contains lower amounts of caffeine than coffee, while supplying two other substances (xanthines) called theophylline, and theobromine, and an amino acid, L-Theanine.
Theophyllin will open up your airways and increase heart contraction, whereas theobromine, (also found in chocolate) will reduce blood pressure and improve circulation.
L-Theanine provides a calm alertness. These factors together make green tea a very balanced and health promoting drink, and it also improves cognitive function…further enhancing the benefits of exercise. Drink it iced with lemon for extra summer enjoyment!
What we recommend: Optimum Health Green Tea Extract
When to use: 1 capsule 3X per day on an empty stomach (start with 1 capsule and gradually increase dose as green tea contains a small amount of naturally occuring caffeine)
We are confident that if you incorporate these items into a healthy lifestyle of daily exercise, proper nutrition, and appropriate amounts of sleep, you will be stronger, have more energy, be in a better mood…and your personal relationships will likely benefit as well!