Supplements! A super hot topic with a lot of controversy, similar to diet culture. There is a lot of information out there. Take protein! Take creatine! Don't forget the pre-workout. Did you take your BCAAs after your workout? So how do you sift through this information in order to find supplements that will assist you in reaching your goals? I'm here to help. The supplement world is convoluted. Here are just a few things to look for when choosing which supplements to take.
First and foremost, always consult your doctor before deciding to take supplements. Whether it be a multivitamin or creatine, it is important to get your doctor's input. You may want to have a blood test run to see if you are deficient in any micronutrients or vitamins. The results of your blood test can help guide you, with the advice of a doctor, on what you should supplement and what will be safe for you to consume. In most cases, those who have a healthy, well balanced diet, often do not have to supplement vitamins or micronutrients. Most healthy adults choose to take a multivitamin regardless of where their levels stand, and there is certainly no harm in that.
After consulting your doctor, you want to find a vitamin and supplement line that is safe. Supplement manufacturers are not as strictly regulated as food manufacturers. A few facts about supplement manufacturers:
Current Good Manufacturing Procedures are put in place as guidelines for supplement manufacturers to follow. It is with good faith that the FDA trusts these manufacturers to ensure proper protocol is being followed.
The testing of raw material, manufacturing ingredients, and verifying the procedures for identity, composition, and purity of the finished product are all up to the supplement manufacturer. This means that every supplement manufacturer must come up with their own check and balance system to ensure they are following the Current Good Manufacturing Procedures.
Supplement manufacturers are required to adopt the Current Good Manufacturing Procedures, however, the manufacturing facilities are not tested every year in order to maintain these practices. Instead, the FDA randomly chooses facilities to audit and check for infractions.
According to Consumer Lab, who pulled the FDA audit results for the 2019 fiscal year, 538 facilities were tested in the United States, and 52% of them were found with infractions. Most infractions included not establishing product specifications for the identity, purity, strength, and/or composition of the finished dietary supplement, not establishing or following written procedures for quality control operations, and not producing batch records which include the complete information relating to the production and control of each batch. The full article is here, if you'd like to read the rest of the results.
After understanding how supplement manufacturers work, and noting that 52% of the facilities tested have infractions, you can see why it is emphasized that you find supplements that are safe. Label claims by supplement manufacturers are not FDA regulated at all. As long as the label does not claim to cure, diagnose or treat disease, it is good to go. Again, it is up to the supplement manufacturer to remain truthful in their labeling practices, but how could one be completely truthful if they are not testing each batch and making batch reports? Luckily for us, third party testing exists. Supplements are tested at a different facility to verify the purity and composition of the supplement. These test ensure that there are no illegal substances, substances that would disqualify an athlete if they were participating in a drug tested competition, and that the supplement is true to the label. This is a step that the supplement manufacturers can voluntarily choose to do. There are five major agencies/ companies that provide third party testing for supplements. If a supplement has been third party tested, there will be a logo on their label identifying which company completed the testing.
To the left you will find the logo of each company. This logo is displayed on the label if the company has tested the product. Here are the testing companies in order with links to their website: - NSF International - Banned Substances Control Group - U.S. Pharmacopia - Consumer Lab - Informed Choice
Because the market is saturated with so many supplement companies, it is hard to know which ones are "good" and which ones are "bad." You will notice that third party tested supplements tend to be a bit more expensive, which deters people, but it is important that the price matches the quality. If you're using a cheap supplement, chances are the ingredients are cheap, the manufacturing is cheap, and there is no testing involved. Below are third party tested products that I use and trust:
dotFit: A supplement company founded by a former professional bodybuilder who realized how important nutrition was in reaching his fitness goals. Neal Spruce, the founder of dotFIT, wanted to give Americans a safe option for supplements and found it was important to offer products that are certified. Transparency in ingredients is something that dotFIT values. This company offers vitamins, protein powder, pre-workout, BCAAs, and meal replacement shakes. Check out their products here.
Buff Chick Supps: Meg Squats, the owner and founder of Strong Strong Friends, Stronger by the Day, and Buff Chick Barbell recently announced her supplement line, Buff Chick Supps. Because they are new, they have limited products. Pre-workout and creatine are what they offer, and they have a non-stimulant pre-workout. Personally, I trust Meg, therefore I trust her product. I understand it is strange to trust someone you don't know, however, she is very transparent on her social media and offers real advise on real issues. Nothing about her presence on social media seems fake to me. She's actually one of my inspirations for starting Maiden Resistance. Okay, enough of me fan girling Meg Squats.... Buff Chick is third party tested because they have sponsored athletes who compete in drug tested lifting competitions. These athletes can consume Buff Chick Supps without worrying about failing a drug test before a meet. Having the product certified ensures that the ingredients on the label are what is in the product, and there is no variance. Become a Buff Chick by shopping here. A Final Thought Navigating the supplement world can be difficult and quite confusing. Most do not know what to take, where to get it form or the benefits. Remember that supplementation is normally not necessary if you are eating a well balanced diet. If you suspect that you are low in a nutrient, I suggest asking your doctor for a blood test to see where your vitamin levels stand. After receiving the results, your doctor can advise you on what vitamins you lack. First, try eating more foods that are rich in that vitamin. After making that lifestyle change, check your levels again. If you are still deficient, then look into supplementation. Be sure your products are third party tested before purchasing them. dotFIT has a long line of vitamins, if that is what you are in need of. Buff Chick offers pre-workout and creatine, which will help you get the most out of your workouts. There is a supplement for everything, but that doesn't mean you should ingest just anything! As always, I'm here if you need assistance! To you, my Maiden Friend! - Coach CoJo P.S. Be on the lookout for the opening of our location in Streator, IL! I cannot wait to invite you into the space and work up a sweat with some local Maidens!