Please be aware, I’m not a nutrition expert. I’m sharing what worked for me. I lost 3 stone and 22% body fat in under 6 months. I have since gained a greater understanding about fitness and nutrition. I base this on my personal experience…

Since I started living a healthier lifestyle supplements have been an essential part of my diet. I received some criticism recently that got me thinking about it. A friend questioned my use of supplements, stating that people looked to me for advice and I am ‘feeding them bullshit’. I’ve never claimed to be a nutritional expert, but I understand his philosophy on diet. He is into clean eating, natural, organic and all that stuff. I think that’s great. I really do. I believe that should be the end game for all of us, ideally.

That being said, we don’t live in an ideal world. I base my advice on personal experience. My use of nutritional supplements comes from my experience and my use of them. I am a firm believed that diet is down to the individual. A diet has to be built around your lifestyle, if someone came to me asking for dietary advice and I told them to eat chicken and rice six times a day, they’d never stick to it, they wouldn’t get in better shape, the diet would be a failure. To adapt a diet, considerations have to be taken. Here are some points that need to be considered when making a diet plan:

* Time: I try to eat 6 times a day. Eating small portions regularly helps speed up the metabolism, reduces appetite and makes your body use nutrients more efficiently. Not everyone has time to eat 6 times a day, work or other commitments might make it difficult.
* Taste: My diet is largely based on fish and lean meats. I also eat (at least) 200g of low fat cheese a day. For serious cutting I’d take that out of my diet. My point is, you can and should have foods that you like in your diet. You should enjoy the food you’re eating, at least a bit, if you’re serious about sticking to a diet.
* Cost: Here’s where I fall off the wagon when it comes to healthy eating. And, where I personally require supplements. In an ideal world I’d eat fresh tuna steaks 3 times a day. As it is, I live with my parents, I’m currently waiting for my first pay check and I’m in a shitload of debt. The cost of diet also needs to be taken into consideration. It’s not sustainable if it’s costing half your wages to feed yourself.
* Lifestyle: Making sure you’re getting the required nutrients for your activity level. Making sure you’re eating enough that you don’t feel starving and tired all the time, but not too much that you’re stunting your progress.

These are factors that need to be considered when planning your own, or someone else’s diet. I’ve played about with weight manipulation on myself, there’s plenty of ways to do it, and ultimately it’s down to the individual.

So, if you’ve read that and thought, ‘the organic, healthy lifestyle is for me’, awesome. If not, but you still want to lose weight, build muscle or just adapt your lifestyle to get fitter, stronger or healthier then here’s the supplements I’ll recommend. And, the supplements I won’t recommend but that I take anyway (and why).

Any brofessor will tell you that if you’re lifting weights, protein is essential. And that’s because it is. Protein is the building blocks of your body, it helps build muscle and it’s the only macronutrient that your body can’t store as fat. Someone at work asked me yesterday what would happen if you only had protein shakes for a week. My response was, ‘you’d probably die, but you’d lose a lot of weight’ (It was a light hearted discussion, not actual dietary advice). But, in all seriousness, if you want to
build muscle mass then protein is pretty important. If you can get it from your food, great. I aim to eat 200g of protein a day when I’m bulking. That would be 1kg of chicken. In a 2kg tub of protein you get the equivalent protein count of 10kg of chicken. I’m not saying get all of your protein from shakes, just that it’s a good way to supplement it.

Another thing people ask me about protein is if it works as a meal replacement. I don’t really recommend this as a method of weight loss. That being said, if you’re eating 6 meals a day and you’re aim is rapid weight loss switching one of the meals for a meal replacement does work. The protein supplement I’d recommend is http://www.onacademy.co.uk/gold-standard-100-whey. Whey protein is made from milk protein, gold standard contains no fat or carbs and it’s got BCAAs in it (which is another supplement I’d recommend if you’re looking to build mass).

When I recommend protein it’s important to remember that I train a lot, usually twice a day, I need to hammer myself with protein to recover. My muscles ache for days if I don’t get enough.

The next supplement I take and I’d recommend is cod liver oil. I take it because it helps with aching joints. From weight lifting and martial arts I used to get epicondylitis (tennis elbow). After trying a few different things I found that cod liver oil helped. I’ve also seen it recommended as a good way to lose body fat.

The last one I’d recommend (though I don’t take it right now) is multi-vitamin tablets. I take these when I have to cut carbs (for whatever reason). It’s not a bad supplement to take; I’d rather give my body too many vitamins rather than not enough. Personally I find them easy to fit into my diet, but if you don’t then it’s a good way to make sure you’re taking a healthy amount. There are a few others that I’d say are okay if you’re training a lot such as ZMA, PCT, BCAA and a few others. But it’s only if your body is struggling to cope with the training you’re doing that I’d recommend these.

So those are the ones I’d recommend to someone starting on their way to a healthier lifestyle. The next subject I’ll touch on is a supplement I use regularly but I don’t recommend it to many people. Pre workout, there’s loads of different types and they use different ingredients. The general idea is that they give you energy and help aid your recovery. The ingredients usually include creatine and things to give you energy like caffeine etc, it varies between brands. Creatine is an amino acid, a naturally occurring substance; things like beef are naturally quite high in it. It adds strength and helps aid recovery. The energy part gives you a bit of a boost. I started with pre-workout while I was on a low carb diet, so I had enough energy to train. I also take it because it really helps recovery, I’m not as sore so I can train more often. If someone wanted to train twice a day 6 times a week, I’d tell them to get themselves some pre workout. Other than that, they could get their energy from their diet. I’ve had people ask me about it and told them to up their training first, when they plateau then it might be time to add it as a supplement.

 
Supplements make the transition in to a healthier lifestyle easier for some. It worked for me, so I’ll recommend it to others. I think we all know really what’s healthy and what’s not. What a lot of people don’t know is what will help you lose weight. If someone came and asked me for a diet to help them be healthier then it would look quite different from a diet to help them lose weight, or gain muscle. I base my advice around my lifestyle, around the lifestyle of the person I’m helping. I
believe in taking small steps to becoming healthier. Don’t get me wrong, I believe you should dive in head first towards your goals, but I don’t expect people to become nutritional experts overnight. When it comes to diet I’d rather you ease yourself in and find what works for you.

Supplements are not the healthiest option, but they’re a hell of a lot better than some of the other junk you can put in your body. At least it’s a sign that you’re thinking about your body, about taking your journey towards a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet can be achieved by thinking about what you’re putting into your body, listening to what your body needs and responding. They are a stepping stone towards giving your body what it needs naturally, to fine tuning your diet.