Health: Yes or No to Supplements?

Credits: Febe Verbesselt

Do you have trouble making the right choices when it comes to supplements? Do you even need them? Expert Febe explains everything about the most important supplements and their effect on the body.  

We often see advertisements pass by of all kinds of magical solutions. Supplements for weight loss, building muscle mass or fixing and avoiding health problems. The question is: Are they all that effective? And more to the point, do you need them? 

As a health coach, I am 100% for balanced nutrition as health solution. Where possible, I suggest getting all nutrients, vitamins and minerals out of (healthy) food. But, we have to be realistic, with our current lifestyles, the pressure to consume less meat for our planet, and the quality of our nutrition it is very hard to give our body everything it needs. That’s why taking supplements are not a bad idea. 

Protein

Let’s start with protein. To stay in good health, optimize building and maintaining muscle mass (which also means burn fat efficiently and being able to have good posture, function correctly), a person needs 1 to 2g protein per kg bodyweight per day, depending on activity level and fitness goal. That means that if you weigh 70kg, you would need 70 to 140g protein per day. That’s a whole lot of meat! 100g of chicken for example contains about 25g protein. That means you would have to eat half a kilo of chicken every day to get 125g protein.

Now for an athlete this won’t be any problem. He or she will get up in the morning, have eggs, chicken or steak for breakfast and have 2 or 3 other meals that contain protein. But a lot of people don’t or won’t invest much time in meal prepping. 

Also, more and more people are trying to eat less meat. But we have to be clear: plant based protein has not the same quality as meat based protein. Sources of plant based protein usually contain more fats too, which makes them higher in calories. 

As a solution to this, protein shakes and bars can come in handy. They are fast and easy in use, and can help you to match up to your daily protein intake. I would not suggest to use them as a replacement for healthy nutrition, but they might help you to get you to your daily protein intake, as a supplement. They are also easy to use on the go, or when you are feeling hungry. They certainly are a better option than high calorie-high carb snacks such as cookies, crisps, and crackers.

How to choose?

There are a lot of so-called protein shakes on the market. Meal replacements that are sold in the supermarket and by independent distributors are NOT the ones you are looking for. They are high in carbs and even packed with sugar! If you want to have carbs then eat rice, potatoes, fruits. Carbs are easy to find in healthy nutrition, protein is more difficult. 

Your shake should have at least 80% protein, (80g per 100g of product), and your protein bars should have around 30% protein (30g per 100g of product). Besides that, we want as little carbs as possible, and of course as little sugar as possible, I suggest less than 5g per 100g of product.

Collagen

Collagen is a type of protein, that is found in hair, nails, skin, joints, and muscle tissue. It is responsible for elasticity.  As we age, production of collagen becomes less, starting as early as from the age of 25. That means our skin gets looser, our hair breaks faster, and our joints are more vulnerable. Taking a collagen supplement will help making fine lines less visible, will help your hair and nails get stronger, and keep your joints and muscle tissue in good health. Collagen comes from animal sources such as beef and fish. Vitamin C helps your body to produce collagen too. I have linked a beef collagen supplement which mostly contains collagen type 1 and 3, the ones that are most abundant in our body. The supplement has added vitamin C and MSM, which is a natural filler, so it will help fine lines to fade and make your joints run smoother.

Vitamin D

Since we spend a lot of time inside, and European winters don’t have a lot of sunshine, it might be interesting to add a treatment of Vitamin D during winter. I also suggest taking selenium and zinc during winter, to boost immune system. Most of the time multi vitamin complexes have these 3 added to it.

Magnesium

Magnesium helps the muscles relax, and helps with sleep, anxiety and depression. If sleep is a struggle, then I suggest taking magnesium combined with GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that helps with sleep. It helps you get into your REM sleep faster and the combination of both will give you good night’s rest.

Magic pills, teas, drinks, coffees for weight loss

I am so sorry to get you out of your dream, but there is no magic solution to loose weight. The only ‘magic’ those things do are having you loose fluid, not fat. When you stop taking them, you will gain the weight back, and some might even be dangerous. The only thing that helps for weight loss is consistent balanced nutrition, where the right supplements might push you in the right direction.


On her website Febe has gathered her favorite supplements. She has tested them and uses them daily in her own diet and healthy lifestyle. If you need more help creating healthy habits, you can book a personal session with her to get you on your way. 

This article has been written in collaboration with Febe Verbesselt

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