You’ve slogged it out in the gym all month and yet that zip still won’t play ball. Sound familiar? Before you throw in the gym towel, it may not be your motivation that’s lacking, it could be your vitamin levels. “Sometimes our bodies can be deprived of or deficient in key nutrients, which means you under-perform when you hit the gym,’ explains Rick Hay (rickhay.co.uk), an expert in weight management and sports nutrition. “This is where supplementation can work wonders and make a real difference to your energy levels and overall performance.” As tempting as it is to start popping that multi-vit, Rick’s ultimate guide to supplements can help you discover exactly what it is you need.
Fitness fail #1
You’re Still fighting flab
If you’re hitting the gym hard, are eating healthily and aren’t seeing any difference, you might need to up your protein intake. But if 8oz steaks aren’t your thing, don’t panic, there’s something for you too! “Chia seeds in smoothies or juices can help with satiety and give extra protein to assist with lean muscle mass and toning,’ says Rick. To really pack a muscle-building punch try Healthista’s lean vegan diet protein formulas (£24.99 each healthista.com). “Plant-based protein is important to restore energy after exercise and to make sure that your muscles are nourished,” says Rick. “If this doesn’t happen then you could feel really tired the next day and may not be able to train.” To supercharge your weight-wielding results, a supplement of vitamin A helps protein synthesis for lean muscle growth and repair and it also burns more fat.
Fitness fail #2
You’ve Lost your get up and go
If the internal battle of hitting that spin class or hitting the sofa has reached feverpitch, it’s time to look at your mineral levels. “Top of my list would be magnesium and coenzyme Q10, both of which spark energy production at a cellular level,” says Rick. “B group vitamins also help to boost energy levels and they decrease stress, which can really zap your vitality.” Looking for more? Try to include nutrient dense super-greens like spirulina and chlorella as they are rich in natural vitamins and minerals as are baobab and maca.
Another great supplement for energy is iron. “It’s also worth looking at our iron levels as this is a mineral that most of us are lacking and it can make a big difference to our overall fitness performance as it helps with oxygen transportation and fuels enzymes.”
Fitness fail #3
You can’t take the pace
Does the thought of a 5k run feel you with fear? Try taking a supplement to boost your cardiovascular endurance, says Rick. “Again, you can’t beat magnesium and Co Q10 to help with cardiovascular endurance and to reduce cardio risk factors.” He also recommends taking a general multivitamin and B vitamins, which help to metabolise the nutrients from your food to turn it into fuel. The superfoods maca and guarana contain caffeine that can help but don’t take this in excess as it can lead to adrenal exhaustion. Take vitamin C to support your adrenals and vitamin D to aid bone health and calcium absorption, plus phosphorus, which helps in the synthesis of ATP, to boost energy production in the body.
Fitness fail #4
You’re weary of weight lifting
If you’re feeling a bit wimpy when it comes to pumping iron, vitamin E can help to build strength and power as it shortens muscle recovery time. “B vitamins are also useful here, especially B1 as it helps to breakdown carbs and protein for energy,” advises Rick. “B6 and 12 help fuel metabolic reactions and B12 helps with red blood cell formation which in turn helps with cell oxygenisation.” Other supplements to try include calcium to help muscle contraction, copper to strengthen tendons and zinc for exercise recovery and wound healing.
Fitness fail #5
You’re feeling stiff and creaky
If striking a decent pose at your yoga class is a struggle or working out at the gym leaves you aching all over you need to work on your joint health. “Take omega 3s from fish oil (or algae oil if you are a vegetarian) which is great for joint health,” says Rick. Glucosamine and chondroitin combination formulas help with joint health and pain relief, while vitamin C is a top choice for flexibility as it is anti-inflammatory and boosts the production of joint-boosting collagen.
Fitness fail #6
You’ve got no motivation
On the days when you find yourself staring resentfully at your gym bag, there are some great supplements to improve your focus. “The ayurvedic herb brahmi or bacopa can help to improve your mood – Fushi do a good supplement – while magnesium helps to support the nervous system and to promote healthy sleep at night, allowing your muscles to repair efficiently,” says Rick. “Cacoa powder can also help to lift your mood and improve motivation by helping neurotransmitters to secrete endorphins and to increase serotonin levels.” Chocolate? Now we’re talking. “Good sleep is important here too so herbs like valerian, hops, licorice, ashwaganda and lemon balm can be good – try Pukka for some great herbal teas and herbal tea blend formulas.”