One of the defining principles of the Paleo lifestyle is that we should change our diets to include adequate amounts of all essential nutrients directly from our food sources. While the idea that we can provide our body with perfect nutrition is a fine and dandy, I think that there may be room for additional nutritional supplementation, and they shouldn’t just be written off. Hopefully in this post I can share some insight as to why you might want to include some supplements in your regular diet, and in my follow-up post I will be sharing some myths about nutritional supplements and what to stay away from when choosing your supplements.
Lets start with why you may want to include in your diet vitamins and mineral, protein, energy, and weight loss supplements. Not all bodies are the same, and in the beginning of a transformation (aka weight loss) the body is likely going through a cleansing stage, and may not be receptive to nutrients in food passing through the system. Also, there may be damage done to the digestive tract making it difficult for nutrients to be absorbed at all. This is where vitamin injections can be helpful in providing your body with what it needs. Of course consult your doc before doing any of this, I don’t even pretend to be as knowledgeable about this sort of stuff as they are. Another good reason to increase your vitamin and mineral intake during weight loss is that during this initial stage your body may go into survival mode, and become immunosuppressed, making you more susceptible to illness. Remember my post about Being Healthy Sometimes Makes you Sick? Well, there’s another reason to get a good dose of vitamins early on. The germy gym is also a good place to pick up a bug, and preloading your body with immune boosting vitamins isn’t going to hurt anything.
Protein supplementation is also important early on. As you transition from consuming mostly carbohydrates to mostly protein and vegetables, you will feel hungry, even HANGRY all the time. Most of our brains and bodies have gotten used to having an easy source of sugar in carbohydrates, and since protein breaks down more slowly and without causing a rush and crash of glucose, we have the false sense of feeling hungry. A great way to alleviate the hunger pangs are to supplement with a protein shake, my favorite product being Muscle Egg. It has no sugar and very low carbohydrates compared to other protein products.
Energy supplementation can be a slippery slope, so just be conscious of your sources of that extra kick. It’s safe to say that green tea is a good option, followed by black tea. Coffee is not allowed on the Paleo diet, but there is more and more medical research supporting the consumption of coffee as part of your daily diet. It’s probably a good idea to stay away from anything that has added sugar, or ingredients you can’t pronounce. Energy drinks, even sugar-free are not the best. A good source of energy boosts is a big glass of ice water with lemon, or vitamin B12.
Finally, weight loss supplements should be evaluated very carefully with a nutritionist or other medical professional. I fear that most products claiming to be a miracle weight-loss supplement are a hoax, and are trying to make a quick buck off anyone they can. Bottom line, don’t believe everything you hear on TV! So make sure to do your homework before buying or taking any supplements, and make sure they come from a trusted and tested source.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this post where I share myths, fears, and what to stay away from when choosing your supplements.