From protein and meal replacement shakes, to multivitamins and herbal extracts, there are all kinds of supplements out there. But what are supplements? Why use them? And if we use them, which ones should we use?
Vitamins are micronutrients, which the body uses in small amounts to support basic biochemical functions.
Minerals are also micronutrients that are essential for basic body functioning. They also are part of the basic make-up and chemical balance of cells.
Herbs can be added to the diet for overall health or medicinal purposes. In fact, about one-fourth of pharmaceuticals have been directly derived from plant sources. They can be purchased as capsules, tablets, tinctures, teas, syrups or ointments.
Meal supplement can replace or fortify regular meals. They often contain specific blends of macronutrients--carbohydrates, proteins and fats--and fortified with vitamins, minerals, herbs and nutrient dense foods.
Sports nutrition supplements are specialized for athletes. They contain high amounts of protein and assist in metabolism, energy, athletic performance and recovery.
Mark McCoy--Director of Nutrition for the United Trainers Association--points out that "it's becoming more difficult to eat a healthy, balanced diet. So supplements fill in those nutritional gaps."
McCoy goes on to explain that with roughly 66 percent of Americans overweight everyone could use a more balanced diet. "Supplements don't replace good nutrition they enhance it," McCoy points out.
With the various farming and lifestyle practices of today, adequate nutrition is much harder to get. Adequate quantities of vitamins and minerals can be lost in foods if overcooked, processed or improperly stored. For example, when whole wheat grain is processed into white flour vitamins B and E, fiber, and minerals zinc and iron are all reduced.
The popularity of products such as diet sodas also adds to the imbalance of diets. McCoy explains that the synthetic sweeteners contained in diet sodas and other foods can take 15-45 days to leave the body. This coupled with slower metabolic rates--due to low calorie diets--leads to unbalanced diet and therefore an unbalanced life.
Athletes--and people that regularly exercise--have a particular need to fill in nutritional gaps. During efforts of intense exertion, the body uses, and loses, essential salts (electrolytes), that the body needs in order to later recover and improve.
Also, the amount of macronutrients needed for muscle repair and growth is extremely difficult to obtain through food alone. Professional athletes that get paid based on their performance in their respective sports recognize this need and use supplements to help them meet management and fan expectations.
Dr. Todd Miller, of George Washington University, says that one doesn't "need supplements to remain healthy and prevent disease. But if you want to be the best of your ability, then you need supplements."
So Which Ones?
So if the nutritional values of foods are lower than ever before and we want to boost our nutrition, what are the best supplements to use?
With a motto of "We build champions," AdvoCare, and its Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, "ensures all products are formulated with the highest quality ingredients based on the latest scientific research."
AdvoCare's products cover all aspects of supplement use. Products can help consumers lose weight, gain energy or maintain proper nutrition. Products such as Spark (an energy drink high in B vitamins), CorePlex (an overall multi-vitamin), and OmegaPlex (an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement, endorsed by Dr. Oz and Consumer Labs) support overall health and wellness. While products such as the 24 Day Challenge™ bundle assist in fat and weight loss, and fortifying the body for proper nutrition.
AdvoCare also boasts 44 products as banned substance free. Products are tested for more than 200 banned substances through the Informed-Choice program. Informed-Choice adheres to regulations put forth by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), NCAA, NFL, and many other professional sports organizations.
For many people though, they just want a way to balance and feed their body. And for these people AdvoCare recommends the 24 Day Challenge™. This bundle of supplements contains two parts. Part one, or the Cleanse Phase (days 1-10), contains a natural herbal cleanse--which Wes Bewley likens to a spring cleaning or oil change for the body--Spark and OmegaPlex.
Part two, the Max Phase (days 11-24), contains the Metabolic Nutrition System (MNS) containing CorePlex (multivitamin), meal replacement shakes, and MNS Max 3, C or E. These products help to balance, build and provide energy to the body, including speeding up the metabolism. And with an average loss of 10 lbs, 12 inches, and 4 percent body fat among users, it's working.