Sunday, January 5, 2014

Supplement Savvy

Happy New Year!

I have written a few articles about supplement savvy in the past and this blog will not be a reproduction of those.  As athletes, supplements are part of our lifestyle.  It doesn't matter if you agree or disagree.  The fact of the matter is that athletes use supplements.  As a Registered Dietitian, I was taught the food first model back in the days.  Around the same time where I was also taught about the benefits of following a high carbohydrate, low fat diet.  Also around the same time when, as an endurance coach, I was learning that the best strategy to improve most performances was to build a huge aerobic base of long slow distance training.

My, my, how things have changed over the years.  Specific to this blog is the supplement topic.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I fully believe that we should eat wholesome foods but I also agree that we cannot obtain all of our nutrients through foods all of the time.  We are athletes and we stress our bodies differently from the average person.  Throughout my career as a Sport Dietitian, I have developed a much more liberal approach to supplements, have taken many myself to see if they work or not, and have developed a more systematic, periodized approach to using them and educating others on what and when to use.

Supplements can be classified into three categories: 1) dietary, 2) sport and 3) ergogenic.  Dietary supplements include your basic multivitamin and single nutrients like iron, vitamin D, omega-3's and calcium.  Sport supplements include any bar, drink, gel, electrolyte or anything else you would likely consume before, during or after training.  The last category, ergogenic, includes supplements like creatine, caffeine, and herbal products such as rhodiola rosea.  

There are just as many studies to say we need certain supplements as there are opposing the usage.  What is important is that each athlete have blood work analysis done to determine what is really going on inside their bodies.  From there, it is easy to "clean up" your daily nutrition plan and add the appropriate supplements to combat deficiencies or to improve athletic performance.  

Recently, I have had the honor to sit on the Advisory Board for Thorne FX.  I attended a 3 day educational retreat at their headquarters in Idaho to learn about what makes them different and why.  I was pleasantly surprised to see, upon touring their facility, the degree of quality assurance in which they hold their manufacturing processes to along with the science that goes into choosing the right ingredients.  No fillers.  No product contamination.  No BS.  The reason I have aligned myself with this company is not only because of their supplement philosophy and manufacturing/sourcing of ingredients but also because they believe in lab testing.  In fact, they offer the most comprehensive lab testing that you can get.

And no, they are not like other companies that develop a test to show you how low you are in something and so conveniently have a product to sell you in the next breath.  The lab testing is to help you achieve a better understanding of your health and determine what dietary strategies you need to implement to make improvements.  My collaboration with ThorneFX is an extension of the services that I provide athletes.  My job is to improve your health and performance by looking at your daily and training nutrition, find the problems and come up with solutions.  Solutions, in this case, often lead to changing the way you eat and your food choices along with educating you about supplements that can help in this process.

As much as you can argue with the research that is published, one thing is for certain: you are unique in your nutritional needs and were dealt a different deck of genetic cards than someone else. Get your lab work done first to see what you are starting with.  From there, you can develop a plan to improve your health and performance.

I would encourage you to visit ThorneFX for lab testing options and their full supplement line.  I wouldn't be on their Advisory Board if I didn't believe in them!

PS-you cannot order lab tests or products from ThorneFX without a special code so you can use this one: THRNFX1062544

ThorneFX website

Coach Bob
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