I’ve been back-and-forth debating with myself recently about the benefits of supplementing certain things into the daily diet, and basically whether or not I’m wasting my time and being tricked by ‘the man’ or if I’m actually aiding my diet..
I’ve always been big on eating ‘natural’ and ‘proper’ foods, the less added to things the better etc etc, not relying on supplements etc etc, simple is better etc etc.
Supplements I currently take:
– Omega 3 tablets
– Spirulina tablets (tried powder but it was vile so switched to tablets).
– Just bought some Chlorella tablets to try out too.
– Zinc/magnesium/mineral dissolvable drink tablet.
– Very occasional post-workout shake from various companies eg USN/For Goodness Shake type. You know what I mean.
I used to take creatine but keep forgetting to buy it. I should take it though & would recommend everyone does too (Update: I now take creatine, cool?).
I’ve noticed a reduction in daily fatigue and general health from taking regular spirulina (which is an incredibly rich source of just about everything) and the zinc/magnesium tablets seem to help too – although this is also getting me drinking water more frequently which will obviously help too.
I’m mostly going to use the word ‘nutrient’ as a general term for anything of nutrition value contained in foods/supplements etc.
Here’s My Thoughts & Contradictions:
(I’ve numbered/labelled each point for ease of discussion – just mention the point’s label if you want to make a comment about it).
Arguments Against Supplements
1. Whole food (think a chicken breast, or piece of broccoli for simple examples – you know, food.) contains nutrients that aid digestion of other nutrients, eg. vitamins that are fat soluble. Certain foods are designed to provide a range of nutrients that compliment each other. For example the vitamins etc in an egg yolk help the protein in egg white actually digest and help our body make use of it. Isolating nutrients as a result can then mean they’re not digested and used by our body properly (or are they? Someone tell me).
2. Research and information on pretty much any supplement can either be very contradictory, or biased – with a lot of pro-supplement articles being funded by the company behind the supplement itself. This obviously creates distrust when there might not need to be! Basically too many people are out to profit for there to be any easily-found balanced research.
3. There are A LOT of poor quality supplements or basically modern day snake-oils, for example multi-vitamins containing either random amounts or trace amounts of only a few vitamins. So many supplements have been proved to be worthless eg. multi-vits, glucosamine, BCAAs, and loads more that don’t come to mind (essentially 95% of Holland & Barretts stock). They’re still sold as miracle cures obviously and I’m sure the anecdotal evidence for taking them is there despite real evidence showing the contrary.
4. Most supplements – and I’m mainly talking protein powders here – contain a lot of additives/bulking agents etc. For example all the flavouring etc mixed into powders and tablets either containing stuff to hold them together, or casings etc. Most of which could be fine but with such long ingredient lists and various different names for the same ingredients, who’s to tell what’s good for the body and what’s not? (Answer: You reading this, you tell me)
5. Fruits, veg, meats, fish, beans, pulses, and so forth still have loads of nutritional value and I’m sure our bodies can work just fine from a diet made up from all these foods that the earth has provided for us (although I’m not 100% sure, hence why I’m writing this).
6. Liver, heart, offal in general is massively nutritious and mega cheap. Eat a portion of liver and you’ll be good for vitamins!
Arguments For Supplements
A. Supplements are obviously a quick, easy source of nutrition. Eating meal after meal after meal can be very impractical.
B. For those training/exercising/working at a physically or mentally high volume requires a higher volume of nutrients – similar to point A it might be near impossible to actually eat the amount required through meals.
C. Soil/mineral depletion – this might be a controversial point but I keep reading/hearing about how there is much much lower nutrient value in modern foods through mass farming of products leading to lower quality of vits/minerals in the soil they’re grown in etc. It’s a fact that fruits and veg have been cross-bred (for lack of a better term) over the years to produce sweeter/tastier foods so that we’ll actually eat things like broccoli and bananas but as a result they’re unrecognisable from what they were a couple hundred years ago or so (not exact number obviously). Surely this then leads to us just eating more sugary products and much less nutritionally complete foods!! Supplements will then fill this nutrition gap.
D. Even if I’m wrong about the soil quality thing – the fact is that any fruit or veg I buy has been sat on a shop shelf for a while, then sat at my house for a bit, so by the time I come to eat it the quality has dropped/it has deteriorated massively! Of course there are options like frozen fruit & veg, but a lot of those don’t freeze well and freezing breaks them down at a cellular level too so that’s not exactly a great option (also I personally don’t have a freezer).
E. Also, poorly raised, fed, and treated animals also leads to low quality meat, not to mention all the crap about meat being injected with water etc to make it look bigger (and of course animals being fed with hormones, steroids etc – does that have an impact on us eating it?!).
F. Liver, offal etc tastes fucking gross.
G. Healthy, whole-food snacking options eg. fruit, nuts, seeds etc are all well and good – but they don’t provide enough all-round nutrition in one go to make them a worthwhile snack, plus the fact that if you snack on nuts you should only have like 5 almonds, anything more is going to end up bad for you. Ridiculous.
– I know there’s a lot out there about certain diets and supplements that talk about detoxing the body. The response to this is of course always that the liver/other organs detox our body for us and that supplements can’t do that blah blah. Well surely some nutrients (and therefore the right supplements) will aid the function of the organs, therefore helping this process!? Just like how our bodies provide nitric oxide into our bloodstream, but people drink beetroot juice to enhance this!
– Meal replacement shakes generally have the attitude towards them of “don’t do that, eat a healthy meal” which is fair enough. HOWEVER what about for those people who lead very very busy lives? Again eating when on the go at work can just be impractical for a lot of people (think a nurse who works 12hr+ shifts and just can’t take 5 mins to sit down and eat a whole meal). If there is no other option then the right shake is surely a great option. Also while they could make a shake themselves from fruit etc, sometimes making a shake then drinking it hours later gives it time to separate and make it gross.
– Surely, SURELY, for enhanced athletic performance, supplements (the right supplements) are a must.
– All of this will most likely come down to the quality of said supplements.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written in this post or want to get in touch for a secret chat, contact me.