Whether or not to take supplements is a hotly debated topic. This might be fueled by the fact that it’s a multi BILLION dollar industry and there are no shortage of ways to profit from making people believe they need supplements for just about everything.
I have always been of the mindset that supplements should be just that… something to add to what you are already doing. But every year that goes by, it seems supplements are relied upon more and more as the main “go to” rather than the secondary support.
In this Blog I’m going to discuss common reasons you might want to consider taking a supplement (or not) and I will also give my recommendations for the which ones to take. Please note that this is in no way medical advice and these recommendations reflect my personal opinion based on my experience. If you have any serious conditions, you should absolutely consult your doctor prior to making any major changes.
1. Poor Sleep (quality or quantity)
Sleep is the number one most common area of life where people either neglect themselves or simply can’t make a positive impact. This is largely due to our “GO GO GO” lifestyles and utter addiction to electronics. This is also one of the best areas to use supplementation to elicit positive changes.
Please note, any prescription sleep aids to have the ability to cause dependence. Due to that, I always recommend people start with something mild and “natural” before relying on narcotics. Another disclaimer to be aware of is that even the best sleep aids can only do so much. If you truly want to sleep better and longer, you must be willing to make some lifestyle changes. They can be hard in the beginning, but once you realize the many benefits to reap from quality sleep… they will all be worth it.
Here are my top suggestions for supplements that can help improve sleep quality.
- CBD or Hemp Oil
a. CBD and Hemp offer a wide array of benefits. Depending on your tolerance, even a small serving of either prior to bed can help you drift off to sleep and sleep more soundly. If you are at all concerned about ingesting THC, lean toward a Hemp product such as the Driven Nutrition gummies we carry at the gym
b. There are MANY magnesium supplements to speak to a myriad of different issues but my go to for sleep is Magnesium Glycinate. You can find them pretty much anywhere supplements are sold, but I use a brand called MagSooth from Jigsaw Health and I am currently working to see if we can make this available to you.
c. Another Driven product that when taken daily helps your body fall asleep naturally and stay asleep
Again, supplements can go a long way to help with sleep issues… but you have to put in some work too. Consider a sleep schedule that has you going to bed and waking at the same time every day. Another important step is to turn off all screens no less than 30 minutes before bed (yes… tv, phone, computer… all of them!). The more you can do, the better you will sleep
2. Chronic Pain or Inflammation
Most people suffer from at least one, if not both of these issues. Sadly, we’ve accepted is as “just part of life” or normal. The reality is that you should NOT have to live with pain or inflammation and the side effects that come with them.
First and foremost, if you are dealing with significant pain you should absolutely see a doctor. But often times, it’s a minor nagging pain or in the case of inflammation, you may not even know exactly what it is. Dietary changes can go a LONG way to improving both… but in the event you need a faster approach, below are my suggestions
- Once again, CBD/Hemp when taken daily are amazing for inflammation.
- Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM
b. Most of us have heard of these supplements and know they are readily available, but what you may not know is that they need to be top quality AND taken on a daily basis to offer any real assistance.
- Fish Oil
c. While there is some contention over the effectiveness of Fish Oil, many people notice significant improvement of symptoms while taking it.
3. Lack of Energy During Workouts
To be clear, we’re not talking about that one day that perhaps you didn’t sleep well and you’re just dragging. For a whole host of reasons, you may find yourself feeling SUPER low on energy either before or during your workouts. Some of the causes can be physical adaptation if you are fairly new to intense exercise, lack of calories necessary to provide sufficient energy, lack of quality sleep, insufficient recovery, overtraining and many more. While a multi-fold approach may be necessary to address all the causes, the following supplements can be super helpful.
- Healthy Energy Drinks
a. Drinks like Celsius (which we will be carrying soon) are a great way to give you a quick supply of energy without all the “crap” associated with things like Monster, Red Bull, etc.
b. Products like Driven Nutrition’s Pre-WOD, Dysrupt and Flow comes in many flavors and can have stimulants or be stimulant free. They offer increased energy and endurance to help fuel your workouts along with a whole host of other benefits
If after looking at the potential causes above, making some changes and trying a supplement you don’t see significant improvement, it would be worth a deeper dive into some lifestyle or medical reasons for your lacking energy.
4. Trouble Recovering Properly (even after rest days)
Much like #3 above, there can be many reasons causing this issue. Nutrition and sleep are the most common culprits, but definitely not the only reasons. If you find yourself super sore, unable to fully recover or feeling beat up physically even after rest days, here are my recommendations.
- Recovery Drinks
a. Drinks like Fit Aid and 02 can be a great addition to your after class routine. They have ingredients that specifically help your body after exertion (even long hikes or days out in the sun). Let us know if you’d like to try a sample
b. Just like the pre-wod powders above, PostWOD and Aminos from Driven Nutrition give you essential ingredients to help restore glycogen, protect and repair joints and muscle tissue. Believe it or not, something as simple as a recovery product immediately after your workout can make a huge impact.
c. Yep, once again these products can make a major impact. Driven Nutrition makes a formula specific to recovery that I’ve been using for a while now and I swear by it.
5. Frequent Stress and/or Anxiety
By being part of the gym, you are already doing one of the best things you can do for your overall mental health. Regular exercise is known to help a whole host of issues associated with stress and anxiety. But if there’s still an “edge” throughout the day, consider the following
a. Here we are again. One of Driven’s formulas called Calm is geared directly toward stress relief. It’s mild, natural and non-habit forming
6. Difficulty getting proper post workout (or daily) calories
This is one of the easiest recommendations and almost everyone can benefit from it. As I stated in the beginning, I always prefer you get your nutrition from actual food first. But in the event you aren’t able to eat within an hour after your workout or you simply have a hard time eating as much as you should to properly fuel your body… this one is for you
a. Much like recovery products, protein is probably one of the biggest supplement bang for your buck. Post workout, protein helps with muscle repair and from a dietary standpoint, it helps you get enough protein throughout your day to keep your brain and body functioning optimally.
Last, but certainly not least, performance. If you have a desire to perform better, increase intensity, hit PRs, achieve gains... then supplementation becomes even more important. There are a literal plethora of supplements to help with performance related goals. The best step is to identify your goals and find the appropriate supplements (which we can obviously help you with).
The moral of the supplement story is that you should absolutely consider taking supplements if and when they can help you with specific needs. Just be sure you invest in quality supplements and don't go overboard and buy into a ton of products you don't really need.