The six food supplements that really do work
Health shops and online advice can be overwhelming: here are our top six dietary supplements that will actually benefit you.
Your trainer has given you an initial detoxing diet to accelerate fat loss, but while the food looks and tastes healthy, he has also recommended you take some supplements to help on your new health journey.
The only problem is, although you love eating clean and healthy, you don't particularly like the sound of taking extra tablets and powders - surely it defeats the whole purpose of being healthy, right? Does this sound familiar?
There are some truths behind this, but most options in your local gym or supplement store aren't exactly appealing and the whole process that goes into getting them is off-putting.
Don't worry, you don't need to take these supplements or even visit one of these shops in order to sustain or improve your healthy holistic lifestyle.
However, in order to feel the best we can, recover from our workouts and get the right nutrients to improve our body's function, it can help to take extra bits here and there.
In our modern society, food is not as clean and process-free as it was, say, 50 years ago.
This means that foods which have always been rich in vitamin C such as broccoli or kale do not have the same nutrient content due to foods being sprayed with pesticides and basically being tampered with.
An initial detoxing diet normally lasts for about seven to 14 days and will have lots of green alkalising foods; fish which contain omega 3 fats and are incredible for losing weight; very little grain and absolutely no sugar or wheat or gluten, as these two food ingredients will fill up your body with fat-storing toxins.
It's obviously a shock to your body as cold turkey makes you crave what's missing, and that means you have less energy than normal.
The following is a guide to what you as an individual trying to get healthier might find useful.
1. Fish oils
Fish oils are great for helping with this detoxing and to give your body a little more energy. These can be picked up in any health store.
Fish oils are a good fat and are full of omega 3 which will help your brain to concentrate, help when you're craving bad sugary foods and give you sustained energy with no dramatic highs and lows that you get from sugary foods.
This mineral is so important for people who are training hard and looking to lose unwanted weight. Low levels of zinc in both men and women causes infertility, which most people know, but zinc is also important for physical performance, energy levels and overall body composition.
In the initial stages of a new workout programme and food plan, it helps as it is great at allowing the body to detox itself.
We all know how important sleep is for our bodies, and who doesn't wish they could sleep a little more or even get a better quality night's sleep, but due to our highly-stressful jobs and lifestyles, shutting off at night is not always easy.
Magnesium, as well as having many benefits, aids good sleep.
It has a calming effect on the nervous system and allows your brain to relax when you are finding it hard to sleep. Studies have shown that a lack of magnesium in our bodies leaves us agitated with interrupted sleep, so if you're looking to get a deeper sleep that leaves you energised in the morning, increase your magnesium.
4. Vitamin C
Due to foods being sprayed with pesticides and not being as natural as they were, the vitamin C content in fruit and veg is not as strong, hence extra supplementation is needed, especially when training.
Vitamin C is great for building up your immune system which we all need for the long winter months, but when taken after a workout, it lowers cortisol levels and speeds recovery.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that will store fat, stress us out and cause general havoc to our healthy bodies, so minimising it in our bodies is key. Vitamin C will help this.
5. Vitamin D3
The lack of sunlight in this country means we could be D3-deficient. D3 is a vitamin but is now called a pro-hormone with many benefits. Most commonly, it has been associated with helping bone marrow and preventing rickets and osteoporosis, but it has many other benefits to our bodies.
These include a healthy immune system, stronger muscles so you can train harder, help against depression and regulating blood sugar levels. .
6. Protein shakes
When you're exercising, your muscles will need more protein than normal. Don't be afraid you will put on massive muscle - you won't.
Meeting your protein needs is not easy and may require a protein supplement.
When choosing one, opt for whey protein as it is the easiest to digest. Some people may not be able to tolerate it as they might have a reaction to dairy in their stomach. If this is the case, go for a protein supplement made from rice.
While protein bars are a tasty treat, that's it. I would not put these in your diet to help you lose weight or repair muscle. They have a massive sugar content and will most likely trigger your brain into wanting the real thing, so void or keep for your cheat meal.
The endorphins you get after each workout and after each healthy meal outweigh the negatives of training and keeping fit, so stay focused.