Getting real about your health and fitness means you get real about more than just training. This might sound obvious, but if you’re working on getting your body in tip-top condition, then you need to make sure you’re feeding it right.
Whether you’re looking to hit those training targets or to just maintain a level of health that keeps you alert and feeling great — the point is, you can’t expect to perform at your peak when you haven’t covered the basics.
That’s where we come in. During this article we’ll guide you through the most worthwhile supplements you can take for your health, the ones that will help you to achieve your goals, and why exactly you should take them.
The supplements we’re going to recommend come from our favorite supplement line, the Performance Lab range. This is because this range is GMO-free, vegan-friendly and free from synthetic additives, soy, gluten and allergens; it’s the ‘cleanest’ supplement range we can find on the market. It also has a wide range of supplements to help cover all your bases.
First thing’s first, let’s talk diet…
Diet: Frontline Fuel and Nutrition
Something that many people still hold to is that a diet is a temporary, often drastic shift in what they eat and how they eat. If you’re taking health and fitness seriously, however, then it’s important to see diet as a permanent lifestyle change for the better.
What you eat, your lifestyle choices, exercise and supplements are all intertwined. Supplements can play an important role and the ones we’ll go through can fill vital gaps in your diet and help you out, but they can’t replace or remove a lifestyle or diet that isn’t conducive to you being at your best.
First of all, are you drinking enough water? Our bodies are 60% water and you should be drinking 6-8-ounce glasses of water a day. More if you’re exercising a lot or you live somewhere with a hot climate.
Make sure a third of your diet consists of fruit and veg. It’s not just for the vital vitamins and minerals your body needs, but the natural structures and compounds that make up the plants. Leafy and green vegetables for example are great sources of iron, vitamin A, K and C, and are low in calories.
When it comes to the fuel (carbs), make the right choice and opt for a mix of starchy carbs like potatoes as well as plenty of whole grains like brown rice and oats. These whole grains contain more fiber and they’re generally less processed, meaning they retain more of their vitamins and minerals.
Protein is where many diets can narrow, which is a shame because there are so many great sources, for meat-eaters through to vegans. Nuts, beans, pulses, meat like beef, lamb, chicken, or fish, and dairy products like eggs and milk. Opt for low-fat, skinless meats where possible and if you don’t eat meat, make sure you’re filling in the nutrients your body would have otherwise obtained from meat.
Fat, you don’t need much of the stuff, no more than about 70g a day. In order to keep your cholesterol low, the important task is to make sure you’re minimizing saturated fat that can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and maximizing mono and poly-unsaturated fat that raise HDL (good) cholesterol. For example, choose olive oil and pure nut-butters over animal fat or cooking oil and highly processed nut-butters.
What We Look for In Health Supplements
As we mentioned before, you’re going to want to look at supplements that don’t claim to turn a bad diet around to make it healthy, but ones that will enhance an already good diet and fill the vital gaps you may not be covering.
The reality is, with modern farming, pesticides and high levels of processing, even a great diet may not be delivering all the nutrients your body needs. So, what do you need?
- A great multivitamin. Unless you can safely say that your diet is impeccable, broad, and bespoke to your lifestyle, then a high-quality multivitamin is one of, if not the, most important supplements you can take.
But a few important points:
- It needs to have the right ingredients: so many vitamins that are branded as high-end neglect to have the right ingredients or enough of them. Case in point, and vitamins you want to see on the bottle: Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Vitamin B12, folate.
- Separate formulas designed for women and for men. Different requirements shouldn’t be overridden by cost effectiveness on the manufacturers side.
- They should also contain natural ingredients with no additives produced in a safe, regulated environment and not contain synthetic or inorganic nutrients.
- All ingredients included need to be highly bio-available, meaning your body can easily absorb and use them. As strange as it sounds, this is not always the case with some supplement lines.
The Best Multivitamin: Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi
Our top pick for daily multivitamin goes to Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi. Their NutriGenesis™ vitamins and minerals are lab-grown to be as bioavailable as possible, making sure your body makes use of them and minimizes waste.
Performance Lab created Whole-Food Multi because of their concern with modern farming and processing that leads to depleted, less nutrient-dense foods. They’ve addressed it in two formulas: one for men and one for women. This means they can tailor each blend to the differing needs of men and women without compromising.
Here are some of the often-neglected vitamins included in Whole-Food Multi:
An essential, fat-soluble vitamin that the body can synthesize from cholesterol and UV light from sunlight. But, not surprisingly, modern lifestyles can lead to deficiencies or sub-optimal levels, especially if you don’t see much sun in the winter.
Supplementing with a quality vitamin D has been shown to boost cognition and wellbeing, bone and immune system health, as well as reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Performance Lab offer us 1000IU of Vitamin D in each blend, which is more than enough for the recommended daily dose.
Vitamin K is another essential vitamin, it’s responsible for bone health and the blood’s ability to clot in response to a bleed.
The minimum effective dose of 50mcg is enough to support the blood coagulation function in the body and many multivitamin suppliers simply supplement to this aim. However, optimal doses of vitamin K are linked with a host of further health benefits like stronger bones and boosted cardiovascular health.
Performance Lab goes above the minimum, as you’d expect, delivering 100mcg of Vitamin K1 and K2 per serving.
Found in low amounts in lots of food products and plants, folate, also known as vitamin B9, is primarily used as a supplement during pregnancy to prevent neural defects in neonates, but it has also been shown to reduce depression and heighten feelings of wellbeing.
Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi contains 400mcg per serving for men and 800mcg for women, which is right at the top end.
You know the impact that proper — or improper — sleep has on your day and general wellbeing, it also has a huge impact on your fitness. Sleep is the primary time your body repairs and recovers from exercise.
Luckily, there are supplements out there that are natural and proven to help.
The Best Supplement for Sleep: Performance Lab® Sleep
When it comes to something as all-encompassing and important as sleep, you need proven, safe ingredients that will actually work. Sleep is not only vital for your wellbeing, but when it comes to building muscle and recovering, quality sleep is just as important as diet and training.
Our favorite goes to Performance Lab® Sleep. It’s designed to work together with their other products, so this supplement fits perfectly with their Whole-Food Multi. Here’s what it contains:
CherryPURE® Montmorency Tart Cherry 500 mg
Thanks to their high levels of anti-oxidants, tart cherries have been used to aid recovery for some time, but they’ve also been found to be extremely effective at helping with longer, deeper sleep.
They are a great, natural source of melatonin that regulates circadian rhythm. This means it helps your body react to darkness and fall asleep faster, as well as waking you up properly with natural light.
Performance Lab go a step further than other sleep-aid products. They provide a natural, additive-free form of melatonin at the lowest effective dose to leave you without the sluggish feeling many synthetic products can cause.
Magnesium 100 mg
Magnesium deficiency has been linked with chronic insomnia and supplementing with bioavailable forms has seen deeper, less interrupted sleep.
Performance Lab includes it in three different, bioavailable forms to ensure absorption, and delivers 100mg, helping to effectively lower blood pressure and ease you into sleep. It also has another impact in this blend…
L-Tryptophan (TryptoPure®) 250 mg
L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps break the stress-poor sleep cycle. By converting in the brain to 5-HTP — a precursor to serotonin that promotes relaxation and restfulness — it also works together with Montmorency Tart Cherry to raise levels of serotonin and regulate the pineal gland’s production of further melatonin.
The really clever part is how Performance Lab have also linked L-Tryptophan to magnesium, as mentioned above.
Magnesium is a component in the conversion of L-Tryptophan to serotonin, meaning it promotes serotonin down two separate pathways as well as their solo benefits to sleep quality.
These intelligent formulas are what separate Performance Lab from the competition. After working on your diet and exercise, you deserve to give your body the supplements that are actually designed to work, and Performance Lab is leading the market.
- Branched Chain Amino Acids
If you’re exercising, you should be taking Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and the three BCAAs, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine, are proven to aid muscle development and recovery after intense exercise.
The Best BCAA: Performance Lab® SPORT BCAA
For those of you ahead of the pack, whether that’s in terms of diet, fitness or wellbeing, it’s probably no surprise that you should be taking high quality BCAAs.
High quality meaning your BCAAs are in the right ratio and in multiple, natural forms to maximize effectiveness, bioavailability and absorption. Performance Lab delivers an optimal 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs that are naturally fermented from sunflower Lecithin.
BCAAs are proven to boost muscle repair, growth hormone as well as protecting muscle from breakdown during intense exercise.
- Plus, Effective Sports Supplements
Once you’re confident you have the basics down, you may want to supplement further with sports supplements designed to help you work out and train harder and faster for longer – and recover quicker. Sounds like the Holy Grail, doesn’t it?
Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout contains creatine and beta-alanine, alongside Pine Bark Extract, iron, Himalayan Pink Salt, glutathione and L-citrulline, to give you the energy and motivation you need to kickstart your fitness regime day to day.
Performance Lab SPORT Post-Workout contains creatine, beta-alanine, L-Glutamine, Pomegranate Extract as well as potassium and Himalayan Pink Salt to give your body the tools to recover quicker after a tough workout.
Together, they can help you take your hard work to the next level.
Also, Worth Noting…
Ever heard of Bifidobacterium? They’re one of the most common ‘good’ bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and aid in digestion. They also have a huge impact on your general health, through serotonin production which influences mood, supporting weight management, as well as bolstering the immune system.
Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi, their SPORT BCAA and any of their other supplements have been specifically designed to be taken in conjunction with the Performance Lab® Prebiotic. This is a form of soluble fiber specifically sourced to nourish microflora in the gut.
By strengthening the strains already in your gastrointestinal tract instead of introducing new strains, Performance Lab promotes stability and reliability and helps you get the most out of your diet.
You can take just one supplement if you prefer or rest easy knowing that the entire Performance Lab range is designed to be used together without side effects. Meaning there really is a supplement just perfect for you…