Not everyone needs supplements. For somebody who leads a very healthy lifestyle and is in naturally good health they may not be necessary. However, for many they can be a helpful addition, particularly those with a specific health condition, busy stressful lifestyle or those who may not eat a wide variety of foods in order to get a balanced range of essential nutrients and minerals from their diet.
Although supplements are widely available from high-street health food stores, supermarkets and online, and you can self-subscribe, at YBP we believe that supplements are best prescribed by a qualified nutritional therapist or doctor. We believe most people would benefit from a good quality multi-vitamin, such as the Ultra Source of Life Liquid that we recommend below. Beyond that any supplements we recommend would be the result of an individual consultation when you sign up to a programme.
BCAA (branch chain amino acids)
BCAA’s are essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine). They cannot be synthesised by the body so need to be consumed through either diet or supplementation. These amino acids can be taken from muscle and used for energy during the workout. Consuming BCAA’s during your workout will not only supply your body with energy, but also prevent muscle breakdown.
Caffeine is commonly found in dietary supplements for weight loss. It can come in many different forms (guarana, kola, yerba mate, green tea to name a few). Caffeine is a methylxanthine that stimulates the central nervous system, heart and skeletal muscles. It also acts as a diuretic by increasing gastric and colonic activity. Caffeine is thought to aid fat loss by increasing thermogenesis (production of heat) subsequently increasing calorie burning. It is better to use caffeine on a month-on month-off basis due to the development of caffeine tolerance. Caffeine can cause some side effects (sleep disturbances, nervousness, shakiness and in high doses nausea, vomiting, seizures).
Calcium is an essential mineral stored in teeth and bones, supporting their structure and function. Calcium has many important functions within the body (vascular contraction and dilation, nerve impulse intracellular signalling and hormone secretion). Calcium has been shown in some studies to help with weight loss. One possible explanation is that calcium intake may bind to small amounts of fat in the digestive tract and reduce their absorption. Studies have shown that the more calcium stored inside fat cells the more fat the cell will burn.
Chlorella is a type of algae that grows in fresh water. It has been used to prevent cancer, boost the immune system, improve response to flu vaccine, increase white blood cell counts (especially in people with HIV and cancer), prevent colds, protect the body against toxic metals (such as lead and mercury) and slow the ageing process.
It has also been shown to help increase beneficial bacteria in the intestines, thereby improving digestion, and helping with conditions such as diverticulosis, Crohn’s disease, colitis and ulcers. There are many other reasons why supplementing chlorella is sensible. It acts as an antioxidant to reduce cholesterol, can be used to help treat constipation, bad breath and hypertension, plus it can increase energy, relieve premenstrual syndrome and asthma attacks. It is also applied to the skin to treat skin ulcers and rashes caused by radiation. Chlorella is a good source of protein, fats, carbohydrates, fibre, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals.
Chromium is a trace mineral naturally found in wholegrain foods, eggs and meat. It potentiates the action of insulin and contributes to normal macronutrient metabolism. Studies have hypothesised that chromium supplementation increases lean muscle and promotes fat loss.
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a slightly modified version of an omega-6 fatty acid. CLA is not produced in the body, it is generally found in small amounts in meat sources, such as beef and cheese. You would need to eat unhealthy amounts of cheese to get the recommended quantities.
CLA reduces the size and number of fat cells by decreasing the activity of enzymes that regulate fat storage. It is also thought to increase transportation of fat to the mitochondria, increasing energy production from fat. It is thought to regulate the way energy is stored and utilised, increasing fat metabolism. Some studies have shown that CLA improves insulin sensitivity too. CLA also boosts the immune system, has powerful antioxidant properties, lowers bad cholesterol and increases feelings of satiety. There are mixed opinions about this supplements efficacy. A good CLA supplement should contain at least 85% standardised CLA derived from safflowers, a minimum 2,000mg daily dose, and no additional ingredients.
CoQ10 is an essential nutrient in the conversion of fat into energy that occurs in the mitochondria (energy producing components of the cell). A deficiency can lead to lower energy levels and a slower metabolism. One hypothesis is that the decreasing production of CoQ10 with age is one reason why older people find it harder to lose weight.
Dextrose/Multidextrin (post workout)
These are all forms of fast releasing glucose (sugar) to add to your protein shake post exercise. There are several post workout carbohydrates. Firstly dextrose, also known as glucose or corn sugar, is a sweet tasting carbohydrate that rates highly on the glycaemic index, releasing faster into the blood stream, ideal for post training.
The next is multidextrin, a polysaccharide produced from corn, rice or potato starch by partial hydrolysis. Multidextrin is actually a complex carbohydrate but its molecular chain is shorter than other complex carbohydrates, giving a higher rating in the glycaemic index, but not as high as dextrose. (The higher in the glycaemic index the faster it is released into the blood stream.) It also has no sweetness or odour. Both dextrose and multidextrin are absorbed through the gut. However multidexrin needs to firstly travel to the liver for the bonds between glucose molecules to be broken down making it slower than dextrose at replenishing glycogen stores.
There are really only two times of the day that simple carbohydrates are required. One is first thing in the morning (depending on body type and goal) to break the fast from your nights sleep, prevent cortisol levels from rising too high and in turn prevent any subsequent muscle breakdown. The other time simple carbs are needed is post training to replenish depleted muscle glucose (glycogen), help lower cortisol again preventing their catabolic affects (gluconeogenesis) and take advantage of the body's insulin sensitivity driving nutrients into the muscle cells creating an anabolic state.
It is common to use both dextrose and multidextrin in a 50/50 combination. There have been studies showing that concentration of dextrose when used on its own raises the osmolarity (concentration of a solution expressed by the number of solute particles per litre) so much that it actually slows gastric emptying (speed at which the glucose leaves the stomach and passes to the small intestines). Multidextrin allows more even digestion preventing a slowing of gastric emptying.
Lastly, Waxy maize comes from cornstarch and is absorbed very fast. Unlike other carbohydrates waxy maize passes straight through the stomach lining and does not have to be emptied into the small intestines.
Other post workout ready-made formulas are on the market containing both protein and carbohydrate. For those of you who don’t want to mess around this is a good option. I personally prefer to make my own to my specific quantities depending on my goal at the time.
Echinacea (A. vogel)
Echinacea is a herb native to an area east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States, and is now also grown in Canada and Europe. It was used in traditional herbal remedies by the Indian tribes. The herb became less used when antibiotics came into use, although now people are searching for antibiotic alternatives its notoriety (Note: notoriety usually has a negative connotation) is again on the increase. It is used to fight infections, especially the common cold, flu, and other upper respiratory infections. It is also used for other forms of infection (urinary tract, vaginal yeast, herpes, HIV/AIDS, human papilloma virus, tonsillitis, typhoid, warts and lots more).
Not only has Echinacea been shown to be helpful for infection, but is thought to be helpful in other conditions too (anxiety, low white blood cells, chronic fatigue, migraines, indigestion, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers, burns, eczema and many more), although there is not as much evidence connected with these. It is thought that this herb contains active chemicals that attack yeast and fungi directly, as well as reduce inflammation.
EFA’s (essential fatty acids)
Polyunsaturated fats are an essential part of any diet regardless of your training goal. There are many health problems associated with fatty acid deficiency (hair loss, low blood platelets, impaired vision, altered mental state, learning problems and growth retardation in children). Conversely fatty acids have been shown to have incredible health benefits (cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease prevention, reduction in risk of stroke, improvement of brain/cognitive function, improvement of arthritic symptoms and immune function).
Essential fatty acids need to be consumed in the diet or through supplementation, as humans are not able to make EFA’s. It is found in grass-fed beef, eggs, cold-water oily fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel as well as flax seeds, canola oil, omega-3 polyunsaturated oil is rich in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenioc acid).
Fat in the diet should be between 20-35% depending on body type. The ratio of omega-3 to 6 fats should be 1:2-1:3.
Studies have shown that essential fatty acid (omega-3) supplementation is important in beta-oxidation (fat burning) accelerating the breakdown of fat from adipose tissue for energy.
Eating fat with your meals aids digestion and absorption by slowing the whole process down. This lowers the glycaemic load of the meal, meaning the sugar (glucose) that has been broken down through the digestive process releases slowly into the blood stream preventing a blood sugar spike, the inevitable rise in insulin and the subsequent fat storage associated with high insulin levels.
EFA’s lower cortisol, the hormone associated with fat storage. They also aid digestion and improve absorption by slowing down the digestive process and thereby preventing fat storage. Good sources of EFA's are oily fish, walnuts, canola oil, flaxseeds, salmon, pilchards, freshwater trout and mackerel.
Fish Oil (Wiley's finest Alaskan fish oil)
Fish oil has been shown to help with many things, from bone health, depression, and muscle gain to fat loss, inflammation, high cholesterol and much more. Fish oil is derived from the tissue of oily fish. It contains omega-3 fatty acids including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fish oil has been shown to benefit health in many ways. With the growing concern about the toxic metal mercury in our fish today, fish oil supplementation is becoming more popular. We would always advocate natural food over supplements, however it is worth monitoring your mercury levels if you eat a lot of fish. It is associated with neurological problems such as tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, insomnia and emotional instability. Mercury and its compounds affect the kidneys, liver and immune process. Mercury is also capable of crossing the placental barrier and can interfere with the development of the foetus.
Eating a healthy amount of fish and supplementing with fish oil is a good way to receive the benefits of fish oils without over consuming mercury. Fish oil helps promote a healthy ratio of HDL and LDL cholesterol, as well as healthy levels of triacylglycerol concentrations in the body. Obviously this is combined with a healthy diet containing fruit and vegetables and a reduction of fatty meats.
Bone health has also been shown to benefit from fish oil consumption. As we age our bones become thin, leading to osteoporosis. This is especially true for women entering the menopause, where their oestrogen and progesterone hormones fall below standard levels. Studies of women who take higher levels of fatty acids show that fish oil may have positive affects on bone density and calcium balance. Weight training has also been shown to create stronger bones, by increasing bone mineral density, and calcium consumption. It is also important to get the correct ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, as too much 6 is associated with lower bone density and inflammation. The ideal ratio is 3-4:1 omega-6 to omega-3 respectively.
Although many more benefits have been attributed to fish oil, a key one to mention is the positive impact of fish oil on mood. A poor diet of processed foods can exacerbate mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
The feel-good hormone serotonin typically tends to be high after a high carbohydrate meal, making you feel relaxed and peaceful. This is one reason why people tend to like carbohydrate-dense food when stressed. Fish oils help support serotonin levels, and many studies have shown its benefits with mood disorders.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea (camellia sinesis) originates in China and is made solely from leaves undergoing minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea extract is associated with weight loss due to the active component caffeine and catechins. It is thought that green tea extract reduces body weight by increasing energy expenditure and fat oxidation by reducing lipogenesis and decreasing fat absorption. It has been shown that caffeine alone does not have the same success rate as caffeine and catechins combined.
Instant oats have been milled to a powder so it can be added to shakes. It is a slow-releasing carbohydrate providing the body with a slow release of sugar into the blood stream. Depending on your body type and goal, instant oats are a useful way to increase your carbohydrates, a good option first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
L-carnitine is a natural amino acid found in most animal products. It is naturally produced in the body and found in the liver and kidneys. L-carnitine is required to carry fatty acids into the mitochondria so they can be metabolised for energy. The body can make L-carnitine. However, reasons for supplementing would be due to poor amino acid absorption (lysine and methionine), a co-factor deficiency (B3, B6, Vit C) and a high fat diet.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle. When exercising we break down amino acids in muscle (catabolism). Glutamine levels can be depleted post exercise. The body cannot synthesise enough to completely replenish itself and trying to replenish through diet immediately post exercise can be impractical. It is a good idea to mix some glutamine with your post-exercise shake. It can also be taken before bed.
Multi-Vitamin (Ultra Source of Life gold)
A multi-vitamin is worth taking because it can be hard to get all your essential vitamins and minerals from your everyday diet. We like to recommend Ultra Source of Life® Liquid because in their own words it's "the pinnacle of energising, health-enhancing liquid multivitamins! Thmultis revolutionary formula utilises cutting-edge nutritional research to provide a superior product that transcends the role of traditional supplements. Ultra Source of Life Liquid's synergistic blend of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and whole food concentrates forms the most powerful liquid multivitamin ever created. Ultra Source of Life Liquid features a succulent, invigorating mango pineapple flavour that excites the senses as it energises the body.”
Probiotics (renew life 50 billion)
Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria that protect the human body, especially the digestive system. They have been shown to be essential for good health by inhabiting the wall of the digestive tract and preventing harmful bacteria from occupying the same space. Probiotics are naturally found in yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, micro-algae and miso soup. Ailments such as diarrhoea, fatigue, bloating and urinary tract infections can occur when the number of harmful bacteria is greater than the number of beneficial bacteria.
As babies pass through the birth canal they pick up good bacteria that has been shown to be beneficial for health, especially the digestive and immune systems. It has been shown in some studies that babies born by C-section are more prone to allergies than those born naturally.
It is claimed that low proportions of the beneficial bacteria can also compromise the immune system, leading to infections and autoimmune conditions.
The most common strain of beneficial bacteria (flora) is known as lactobacillus, which has not only been shown to ease diarrhoea, but also lactose intolerance. Another strain known as bifidobacterium has also been shown to ease conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, while other strains can help conditions such as eczema, prevent colds, allergies, and promote vaginal and urinary health.
Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, both harmful and beneficial, so it is always a good idea to supplement probiotics when taking antibiotics. When suffering from diarrhoea, digestive inflammation or infection it is worth trying probiotic supplementation.
Protein is an essential part of any training programme regardless of goal. Whether your goal is to lose fat, sculpt, gain muscle or strength, protein is important to help get the required results. Providing your body with the correct type and quantity of protein at the right time is the best way to ensure you maintain and grow muscle.
There are many types of protein powder, and it's important to select the right one for you. The most popular are whey, pea, soy and casein to name a few. The most common, and most would say the best form, is whey because it is a complete protein (containing all 9 essential amino acids). For vegans or people who simply want to avoid dairy the other options are soy, pea, hemp brown rice or a mixture. Timing is another factor when thinking about what protein to use. The proteins already mentioned are good for post training as they are fast releasing (especially whey), but before you sleep it’s a good idea to take a slow releasing protein to slowly filter into the blood stream through the night. This is when casein protein is the best option.
Terra Nova (life drink)
This is simply a great way to get some of the essential nutrients your body needs to thrive. Similar to a multi-vitamin and mineral in powder form, but with much more. It contains many ingredients including vegetable and protein blend, freeze-dried berries, omega-3, 6 and 9, rice bran actives, micro-algae, freeze-dried greens, freeze-dried mushrooms, probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes. It does not contain any dairy products, animal products, sugar, colourings, flavourings or preservatives.
Turmeric (pukka herbs)
Turmeric also known as curcuma longa, is a plant from the ginger family and is native to south Asia. It is commonly used as a spice for flavouring and colouring Asian dishes, but it was originally used for dyeing. It has been shown to have many health benefits and is worth adding to any diet. Turmeric contains bioactive compounds that have powerful medical properties. The compounds are curcuminoids and the most important one is called curcumin, which is the main active ingredient of turmeric. Curcumin has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful antioxidant. However the curcumin content of turmeric is only 3%, so you would have to add a lot of turmeric to your food to get the health benefits!
Short term, acute inflammation is essential for good health. Without inflammation pathogens like bacteria could take over our bodies leading to serious illness and possibly death. The problem is long-term chronic inflammation attacking the body’s own tissue, and it is this inflammation that is commonly believed to be a major role in western disease including, heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer’s.
Curcumin has been shown to target multiple steps in the extremely complicated inflammatory process.
Oxidative damage caused by free radicals (unpaired electrons) is believed to be one mechanism that contributes to the ageing process. These free radicals tend to react with and subsequently damage organic substances such as fat, proteins and DNA. It is the job of antioxidants to protect our bodies from the damaging affects of free radicals. Due to the chemical structure of curcumin it can act as a powerful antioxidant, while also boosting the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.
So the two best-known properties of turmeric are anti-inflammation and antioxidant, however there are many more health benefits.
Brain-derived Neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a hormone that acts as a growth hormone within the brain and increases the ability of the neurons in the brain to form new connections. Low levels of this hormone has been linked to Alzheimer’s and depression. Curcumin has been shown to increase levels of BDNF.
Heart disease is another condition that studies have shown curcumin can benefit. Endothelial dysfunction is a major contributory factor of heart disease. Curcumin improves the function of the endothelium, which lines blood vessels. Of course the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are very beneficial in heart disease cases.
Studies have been done on turmeric and the prevention of cancer (characterised by uncontrolled proliferation of cells). Numerous studies have shown that curcumin supplementation can reduce both angiogenesis (blood vessel growth in tumours) and metastasis (spread of cancer), as well as contributing to the death of cancerous cells.
Curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, which may be good news for people suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Inflammation and oxidative damage have been shown to play a role in this disease that so far doesn’t have a good treatment. The fact that curcumin has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can also cross the blood-brain barrier may be an important consideration for the treatment of this disease.
Arthritis, depression and also ageing have all been shown to improve from the beneficial properties of turmeric.
Supplementing turmeric with significant amounts of curcumin is advised, preferably with an absorption enhancer like pepper.
5-HTP has been shown to help with several conditions, notably depression and also to aid weight loss by helping you feel less hungry. The neurotransmitter serotonin, primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, blood platelets and the central nervous system, is derived from the amino acid tryptophan. It has been shown that a diet deficient in tryptophan results in increased appetite and cravings. Supplementing with 5-HTP has been shown to increase serotonin and subsequently reduce appetite and cravings.