My colleague Andrea who I met last year at the Metabolic Efficiency Training certification course posts some great things on Facebook. Often I wish I had actually come up with the post she wrote and often it spurs me to consider that as something to discuss with my clients and friends on Facebook.
Today I loved how she posted about Supplements are NOT a food group! And I could not agree more.
Supplements do have their place in a nutrition program. They help to bring the body back into balance when under stress or for nutrition deficiencies where food alone is not enough. They are supposed to be temporary except for a few like a multi-vitamin, Vit D3, Calcium and fish oils as needed.
But the shakes, powders and bars are not supposed to replace food entirely! They are still processed even if they do include real food ingredients.
I found this out first hand 17 years ago when I ended up with adrenal exhaustion (yes it IS a condition). I was training a lot for my Ironman triathlon and used Clif bars regularly for meal replacements or a snack before training. I mean, they are fortified with nutrients….but I found out the hard way they are just glorified cookies with some added pre-digested/processed proteins that just made me hungry every 2 hours. They had calories, but no nutrients that my body could actually absorb. It spiked my blood sugar which just added more stress but enabled me to do more training. A temporary fix so to speak.
On top of that ‘sport supplement’, I was taking a ton of other supplements, too! Multi-vitamin, B-complex, calcium, energy boost, shakes, sports supplements and not realizing that my body was breaking down despite the supplements I was ingesting. Why? Because I wasn’t eating the nourishing foods my body needed!
But I was taking supplements. Isn’t that enough?? To me, the supplements were better than a food group. They gave me what I thought my body needed. And they were simple to take. Convenience trumped real food nutrition. But I replaced real food options with convenient sports supplements to keep my body in balance….but it didn’t really work well. I just fed the imbalance!
Recently I saw one sports dietician on Facebook recommending some new meal replacement product, and when I looked at the ingredients, including hydrolyzed brown rice protein extract, I had to wonder ‘how that is really supposed to fit into ones healthy meal plan?’ It clearly includes processed ingredients that at one time was a food…but now is an adultered food ingredient that the body no longer recognizes.
The meal replacement may be ‘healthy’ but the body is designed to be fueled with real food. It was not designed to ingest processed foods and supplements in place of food.
For example, I have a client who came in looking to lose weight and regain his energy. He and his wife are using Isagenix or BeachBody – one of those commonly recommended fad programs with shakes for most meals and 1-2 salads with some protein as the real meal. He was using just the shakes all day. Only dinner was real food. And sometimes that meant 4-5 shakes in one day!
Well, his body was not responding – he was feeling more tired, more stressed and feeling bloated all the time. He was not happy (and actually missed his real food!).
He was lamenting about when he once felt really great, several years ago eating lean meats, fats and vegetables with limited carbohydrates and training a ton. He looked great, felt great and he had tons of energy ….eating real food. My job is to get him back to that and restore his body balance and his enjoyment of food again so his body would respond accordingly. Eventually, he will get himself back to training as right now, he is too tired to even begin any exercise. He had put his body out of balance consuming these ‘food’ supplements instead of real food.
I also did the Nutrition Response Testing and it verified that the shakes were not agreeing with him, his digestion, gut and self esteem were now out of balance. We did add some probiotics, digestive enzymes and anti-fungal supplements after we moved towards a real food diet again and rebalance his digestive system. The imbalance came from stress, and using the shakes too often.
Now a few weeks later, he feels so much better, the bloating has all gone away, he feels more satiated and is starting to find his healthy weight again…by eating real food! His energy is also returning!
If have found that the latest supplement shake is your new food group, it is time to re-evaluate your nutrition program. If you find you are taking more than 5 supplements and using meal replacement bars and shakes more than once a day, it may be time to schedule your 15 minute chat or your Nutrition Response Testing session, so we can identify where to start.
Supplements are not a food group. Together we can design a food plan that nourishes your body and is a plan you can live with every day.