I've been wanting to write this post for a long time. I often hear from women asking about the best supplements to take, and all over social media we see advertisements for fat loss products and weight loss tricks galore. It kind of drives me a little bit bonkers. Ha!
Here's the thing - most of the crazy supplements out there that are advertised to affect body change don't actually work. They are expensive, they can be dangerous and unhealthy to use long term, and while you might get results short term they do not create long lasting changes.
Fat Burners. My opinion on fat burners is that if you're doing the right kind of exercise for your body in the gym, and if you're eating the right kinds of foods for your body in your kitchen, then fat loss will happen naturally. I also believe that each person's body has it's own unique set point - a place where maintenance becomes effortless and optimal health is reached. In my journey of trying to attain what I considered the "perfect" body composition I came to an important realization: some bodies just don't like to be lean. Maintaining 18% body fat for me is effortless, but at 15% my hormones are a mess, my cravings are out of control, I often feel low energy, cold, my hair falls out, and I have to deprive myself of normal foods in order to stay in that place. And since I definitely don't want to live like that, I needed to get comfortable and practice self love at a higher body fat percentage. Numbers aside, because they will be different for every person, my point is that if you have to take fat burners to obtain that lean body composition you so desire, it's likely that the health of your body will revolt once you get there.
Preworkout. Man this one probably irks me the most. If you don't have the energy to do a workout, you need to evaluate the other areas of self care in your life! Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating the right kinds of food at the right time and in the right amounts for *you*? Are you pushing yourself to train at 5am before work when you are just. not. a. morning person? I hear some people explaining that not only do they need preworkout for energy, but also for motivation. Motivation does not come from how much energy you have, it comes from determination. Journal and reflect about why you want to do the workout and then JUST DO IT. Consistent action builds motivation. If anything, drink a cup of coffee or green tea and get going!
Protein powder. This one I love! Protein shakes are super amazing for getting quick fuel on the go. It's really important to check out the ingredients, not just the nutrition facts. Check for processed ingredients and added sugars. 20g of protein is a solid amount to look out for. I recommend either grassfed whey if you can tolerate dairy, or my fave non-dairy protein powder is PureWOD BUILD, made of beef protein isolate. The one thing that's important to keep in mind when it come to protein shakes is that they should not be used as a meal replacement, especially if you have time to make real food. Real food should always be your priority. Protein shakes can be great post workout with a carb added in or on the side, if you're craving something tasty before bed, and for speedy breakfasts with some healthy fats added in when you are rushing out the door in the morning.
Other supplements to consider. BCAA's (branched chain amino acids) can be great for some people, but in my opinion they aren't super necessary unless you're training with the intensity of an athlete. BCAA's can help to protect your muscles if you are training fasted or if you are training in a caloric deficit. Some studies show that they may allow you to train with more intensity during a time of day where you might otherwise feel a sense of fatigue. BCAA's can also reduce muscle soreness. They are found naturally in animal proteins but are also sold in powder form. They dissolve easily in water and are absorbed quickly into your body. As always, check the ingredients for artificial sweeteners and flavorings.