Before I get into a mind field of ‘are you qualified to give this advice’, I would suggest always asking a qualified professional nutritionist before you start playing around with supplements extensively. I have experimented somewhat and done my research. Yes, I am a nutrition advisor, however I will never profess to be an expert in something I am not. Sharing my experience is all I aim to do really. This blog is my experience of a year of dipping in and out of this supplement world….where actually there wasn’t a huge amount of information about it.
I have never been a tablet taker and mostly try to get what I need from food (and I recommend that you do too!)– only when I became a nurse did I learn why you should always take your full course of antibiotics!! 😉 Needless to say, the idea of taking vitamin supplements never featured in my life.
So, this new world of supplements to me has been fascinating and I’d like to share my thoughts/frustrations and advice.
So…this was a mind-field to me and I thought protein shakes would be ‘find a flavour and go’. Just like the adverts say! Little did I know!!
Protein powders are essentially a quick fix way of getting good nutrients (protein) back into your system with a faster route to help muscle recovery with less other ingredients to digest along the way. If you look at the ingredients on a packet you might see a long list of sugar and unreadable words. For me, vegan protein powders are normally the best just in terms of ingredients that match my intolerances. However, nothing is as simple as it seems. Just because vegan has no dairy, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have rice! 🙁
This new experience has led to me needing to check EVERYTHING.
Whey protein powder is very common and probably comes in the most flavours and interesting combinations to bake with. However, vegan shakes are definitely better now than when I started!
My vegan protein recommendations:
- Free soul – berry flavour. https://herfreesoul.com/products/vegan-protein-shakes
- Vega – vanilla and chocolate (very sweet, but great). https://www.myvega.co.uk/uk/products/categories/protein-shakes
- Nutristrenght vanilla and chocolate (less sweet). www.nutristrength.com
How to choose your protein powder –
Much of my learning has been that basically advertising is a load of shit. Look for the flavour you want. Vanilla is the easiest and most versatile. Chocolate is great if you can be bothered to work out what veg and fruit goes with it very easily. Berry (for) is like pudding.
I try and look for the product that has the most words that I can pronounce, understand and don’t have to google. I reckon, that should probably be your go to with food.
You may have seen a post of mine comparing what the Doctor prescribed me (macragol) when I was having a terrible time with my stomach. This was the peak of terrible digestion, awful pain, high stress, scans and worries about my health and time off work. Macragol tasted gross, and didn’t help me at all. Sorry doctors. Instead, I replaced this chalky gross stuff for magnesium tablets. I learned this could be a solution through my PT training and biology as a nurse, and I was hopeful that magnesium would help my stomach troubles, relax my muscles and rebalance me.
It took me a while to find a brand that didn’t have dairy or rice as a base product, however, eventually www.biocare.co.uk and www.togetherhealth.co.uk became my go to magnesium source. I took magnesium at night before bed for quite a long time and this genuinely helped me. short periods for muscle fatigue and rebalancing things, I think can be really helpful.
Again, I really encourage you to look at what is in your supplements before buying them. Yesterday I looked at 2 different BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) to help me with my workout goals, however – one had an ingredient list as long as the tub. The other was non flavoured, vegan and only had amino acids in it….it tastes rank…but at least I know what’s in it and when it run’s out.
I ended up using www.womensbest.com for a while, peach tea flavour. This was mainly experimenting to see if it made any difference to my gym workouts. I can’t say that I notice a difference and so I stopped using the gross flavoured yuk BCAA’s and the peach tea one too, although the peach tea is in my cupboard.
The idea behind BCAA’s is that they give you quick energy during a workout in the form of proteins rather than sugars.
My advice is…
Read the label. Maybe just bring squash to the gym?
Genuinely, I have never tried this as I don’t think I am a hardcore enough fitness person to care about using creatine. I don’t lift double my weight. There really isn’t any strength or power work that I need. Do you need creatine? ONLY if you are properly training in the most extreme workouts with short (10 second) bursts of intense exercise. If you are doing this (properly) you should probably be doing it with help, so your coach will advise you about creatine.
Ultimately. The generic gym goer, DOES NOT NEED IT!
I started using these (again looking at labels a lot) alongside my magnesium use. These. Are. Gold.
www.livingnutrition.co.uk are my current go to. I love them. They can be pricey. These regulate/manage your gut bacteria and encourage the growth of good bacteria. Get these in your life.
I can’t say I have tried everything. I don’t think most people need any of the above.
Protein powders are great for a quick snack or mid afternoon pick me up instead of grabbing crisps and chocolate. If you can use them quick and without drama, why not.
Magnesium, I swear by. When I’m particularly tired or my stomach is messing around.
BCAA’s – don’t bother.
Creatine. Really. Don’t bother unless you are properly training.