Health, Body and Fitness: Supplements 101

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Eating throughout the day is enough to fuel your workout — right? It's not enough to be eating; you have to know what to eat and when to eat it. After chatting with about 30 students, about one-third thought supplements were the most important part of staying fit and healthy, while others said it was all about taking a "natural" approach to diet and exercise. So how do you know what is a good fit for you? I sat down with a local Trainer at Goodlife Fitness, Kyle (who asked that his last name not be published), and a Supplements Customer Service Representative from Popeye's, Bobby Gasselle, to get both sides of the story — along with agreed-upon meal recommendations to help you grow healthier and stronger. The next question is, do we really need supplements to help our bodies to become stronger and healthier?

Every morning deserves a healthy, balanced breakfast. Try whole grains, orange juice and egg whites. Gasselle recommended pairing your breakfast with an antioxidant drink to cleanse your body for the day, while Kyle also suggested drinking lots of water to prepare for your workout later that day.

Next, we head into a mid-morning snack, which is good for your body because it keeps you anabolic — in a state of muscle growth — and prevents your body from storing fat. A lot of people tend to skip this snack during the day because they feel like they will gain weight from over-feeding their bodies. The fact of the matter is that you are not over-feeding your body — Kyle said that people should be eating the majority of their food before dinnertime in order to have optimal workouts and achieve optimal results. Both Kyle and Gasselle agreed that loading up on your fruits and veggies is an important part of eating healthy. A granola bar and mixed berries is the perfect balanced snack for the morning.

When lunchtime rolls around, it's time for more veggies, lean meats and whole grains. A form of protein here is important — a protein shake, a lean chicken breast, nuts or beans. Kyle recommended complex carbohydrates and lean protein, which allow your body to fuel itself and prepare for workouts.

As your day progresses, an afternoon snack is crucial. Try some trail mix — the healthy fats and carbohydrates will keep your body fuelled with energy until dinnertime. A big difference here between the supplement and fitness industry was that Gasselle recommended a pre-workout supplement to enhance your workout, while Kyle assured me that if a person has fueled their body properly with carbohydrates, that is enough for a great workout.

The day is now coming to an end, and it is time for supper. More veggies and lean meat are necessary — try your favourite salad with some lean chicken or turkey in it. For the vegetarians out there, beans and a veggie stir-fry are a great choice.

If you are feeling hungry after dinner, some berries or yogurt is a good snack to help you stay full until the morning.

A new trend on the rise is preand probiotics, which help with digestive health. Another plus: Kyle and Gasselle agreed that this is a great common ground to start with. The terms pre- and probiotics are often used — incorrectly — synonymously. While both benefit digestive health, they do so in different ways: probiotics aid the gut by increasing the number of helpful bacteria and inhibiting harmful bacteria, which may strengthen the body's immune response. Prebiotics then act as the "food" for these beneficial probiotic bacteria, enhancing their activity. Prebiotics also encourage the absorption of bone-strengthening minerals like calcium and magnesium due to the way they are digested. When taken together, pre- and probiotics are called "synbiotics" because they together in a synergistic way to enhance probiotic benefits.

Kyle and Gasselle agreed that a healthy, well balanced diet is most important when it comes to keeping your body healthy and fit. Depending on your lifestyle and fitness goals, there is a time and place for supplements. Eating, therefore, is enough when it comes to taking care of your body — however, fueling your workout comes directly from what you eat. Keep this in mind every day, you are what you eat; that bowl of Lucky Charms in the morning won't get you running very far or lifting very much, so eat right, work hard and be proud of your body.