"Do I really need a supplement?" This is a question I hear often, and let's be clear, most people do not recognize the difference between meal replacements like protein shakes and bars and actual supplements such as vitamins, omegas, pro-biotics, metabolism boosters, amino acids, etc. Instead, the whole spectrum of anything considered to be good for you or have some health benefit but isn't exactly a regular food item, is referred to as a supplement. So, with that in mind my answer is "Yes, you do need them."

While it is true that whole foods offer exactly what our bodies need and it is possible to get all our macro (protein, fats, carbs), micro (vitamins and minerals) and phyto-nutrients (antioxidants) from food, the reality is that almost no one is actually able to do it well enough. Take into consideration the fact that the nutritional quality of food is much lower that it was when our parents were young, due to soil depletion, GMO, pesticides, etc., coupled with the busyness most families are plagued with on a daily basis, and the ability to get the right  number of nutritious, PFC balanced meals every day all the time becomes an impossible task.

With so many different types of products on the market today, it can be difficult to know what to take or where to even begin in determining where to start.  Bottom line, most people would notice a huge benefit by supplementing daily with a good quality multi-vitamin, an omega 3 and a pro-biotic. Most women will also benefit from supplementing with iron. Too much iron can be harmful however, so if you have never had your iron levels tested and are unsure whether this is something you need to increase, it's best to request a blood test from your doctor  to be sure before taking any. 

Once you have determined which supplements your body needs, quality of the supplements is always something to consider. When at all possible, choose supplements in a liquid form as these are more easily absorbed and used by the body. Another term to look for is "bio-availalble". Products that are bio-available are made in such a way that the body can absorb and use it immediately and with little or no waste.  Many of the pills taken daily have very little bio-availability, allowing only around 10 percent to actually be used by the body. Better than nothing, yes, but far from ideal.

So, where do the meal replacement/protein shakes and bars come into the picture?  For those who are unable to plan and prep enough meals to satisfy their body's PFCs every 3 requirements, good quality protein shakes and bars are just the thing to fill the gaps and get you through the day without that afternoon drop in energy, or irritability that comes with gnawing hunger when a meal is missed. And FYI, that gnawing hunger is not your body using up any extra fat you may be trying to get rid of, it's actually your body feeding off of its own muscle to provide the necessary sugars to the brain.  What this results in then, is a slower metabolism as muscle is the only thing that will burn the fat and use it for energy.  Without enough muscle, it's a slower process of burning fat when it is released, and therefore slower weight loss as well.

Think about this for a minute.  Our bodies are our vehicles that drive us through life. There is never an option for a trade-in or trade-up and we only get one.  How you maintain your vehicle will determine how you drive through life.  No one I've ever talked to would ever consider running their car out of gas on purpose, neglect to put oil in and have it changed regularly or continue to drive if the vehicle is overheating, because it would cause permanent damage to the car. Neglecting your body's nutritional needs and depriving it of the fuel it needs to carry you through the day, over time, causes permanent damage to your body.

The comfort and enjoyment, or conversely the rocky road with many potholes and detours that you will experience on your journey through life, is directly proportional to the way in which you fuel and maintain your vehicle.  Don't wait until you see the "check engine light" before you begin making healthy choices.  Remember, the transformation always begins with you.
 

 

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