I get questions all the time from people about what supplements they need to be taking, what brands are the best, and what things should they be taking to reach their goals. The question that I typically respond with is, “what foods are you eating and when?”. This answer is unsatisfying to most people; however, it is also the truth. No matter what supplements you’re taking or wanting to take, “food” is always necessary while “supplements” are sometimes necessary when the right conditions are met. Everything comes down to what kinds of foods you’re consuming long before the questions of supplementation come into play. Think of your nutritional health like a building.
In order to have a strong building that can withstand time and various forms of weather, you need exceptionally strong structural support. Foods (whole foods specifically) provide you that support: the foundation your body is built upon. However, just like in a well-built structure, there may come times when you need to rely on some putty or touch ups to make sure your building maintains its structural integrity. In this sense, supplementation should be used as “putty”, rather than the foundation itself. These are when your supplements come into play. When you have obvious issues that you’ve objectively identified, then supplements may be necessary. A good example of this is if we ran tests to determine that your omega-3 levels were low and they needed to be higher to address a specific issue. An easy fix to this is to increase the amount of fish or flax that you were currently eating. However, if that were not possible due to whatever reason, then it would be beneficial to add fish oil supplements until the issues were resolved.
Supplements do have many beneficial properties that I’ll address in another article, but for now just remember to treat supplements as their name implies: “in addition to” the diet. They are not meant to “replace” foods. A major issue is that people tend to rely too heavily on supplements and ignore eating the foods that form their structural base. They forget the “purpose” of food, thinking they can get everything they need in powder or capsule form. What they don’t realize is that, through digestion, the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and macro-nutrients from whole foods are more productive in the body. They are essentially saying, “screw the concrete, we’ll just use Spackle to build our foundation.” Obviously, not the best decision. For instance, if you were trying to get more vitamins and minerals in your diet, many people tend to try and replace the foods they’re missing with a multivitamin supplement. Even though multivitamins can be helpful, it doesn’t fix the problem of that person having a diet with not enough food variety.
So now the question is, “What foods should I be eating?” The answer (as usual) is “it depends”. We first need to learn more about your individual needs and goals, which can be done through our Needs Assessment. But, to build your personalized nutrition plan, you first need to understand what food is and what we get from it. The purpose of THIS article is to impress upon you that before you jump straight to patching up a faulty diet with unnecessary supplementation, you should reevaluate your foundation. Check out my upcoming articles for more information on what kinds of foods serve what purposes in your body (i.e. choosing the right materials for your structure). By building a healthy nutritional base, you will be well on your way to erecting a more stable and sustainable structure on which your health and fitness goals will be supported!
Whether you are in the planning stage of your healthier life, or looking for more precise instruction with your nutritional choices, working with a knowledgeable coach is one of the best ways you can ensure your foundation gets built the right way. If you are ready to take the next step towards building a new you, remember to complete our Needs Assessment and select me as your coach to get even more support along the way!
In the meantime, keep learning and stay motivated. Let's get to work, and don’t “putty it up!”