Ilike to eat clean but like many people with a busy schedule, supplements can be a convenient way to get extra nutrients to fuel your training and lifestyle, especially when dieting and you want to get the most nutrient dense foods for your calories! But, most sports supplements don't sit well with clean eating do they? In moderation I guess its not a problem but im increasingly feeling I would like to get my supplements from as natural a source possible!
When you look at the ingredients of most protein shakes and bars for example, most are packed with artificial sweeteners, processed fats, artificial flavours, preservatives and other artificial and processed ingredients. Again, in moderation its probably not much of an issue but when I get close to a competition, I like to eliminate as many foods /supplements with artificial ingredients and foods that are highly processed as possible (generally ones with super long ingredient lists full of stuff that doesn't sound like a food).
Also, looking for supplements that are suitable for vegetarians and Vegan can sometimes be an issue!
I recently looked at the ingredients on a mainstream sports protein bar and compared it with a natural whole food bar and was shocked to find that the natural bar actually had more protein in it than the protein bar I was about to buy. I was quite surprised and it made me wonder why all the extra processed stuff is needed when a natural bar contains more protein? Maybe people are conditioned to expect bars to look and taste a certain way, so I quickly switched bars and went away feeling great that I was snacking on a high protein bar that was also, raw food, contained 1 of my five a day and only contained 4 or 5 ingredients, vegetarian and vegan, all whole food ingredients, nothing artificial at all! Fantastic
I've always used whey isolate and blends of whey isolate for fast acting protein post workout and / concentrate, casein, soya & egg for sustained release between meals etc. I also use protein in baking.
Its only anecdotal but something I've noticed in myself that I was developing cellulite on my legs & glutes, which I've not had before and some of my clients, when they started using flavoured protein, BCAA's etc., the cellulite on their legs got worse. I started to wonder if it was the artificial ingredients in our supplements as we were all training hard and eating clean, so we all switched to either unflavoured or stevia sweetened protein, tablet form BCAA's or unflavoured powder and cut sweeteners out from other things like chewing gum, sugar free cordial, sugar free sodas, sugar free syrups at cafes and lots of products with 'low fat or sugar free' labels which seem to contain more artificial ingredients. None of us were consuming these in massive amounts but as odd treats here and there. Its amazing how much sweetener you can find someone is consuming, without even really noticing it. Anyway, we all found that our skin condition & cellulite and fat loss on legs / glutes improved after just a coupe of weeks. This is like I said, not something 'proven' just something we experienced but, it got me thinking that if you are going out of your way to eat clean, that should probably apply to your supplements too. So unflavoured or stevia (naturally sweetened) protein would be a step in the right direction for clean eating. A further step would be to look at Non dairy sources of protein like soy, pea, rice and hemp protein from company's that specialise in natural supplements.
I think if you are clean eating most of the time, small amounts of processed foods isn't a problem, but its easy to find the little things add up if you are not aware of it. So I don't think you have to cut out everything processed, just be mindful of how much, and if you do rely on supplements, its just something to be aware of. Im more relaxed about this off season but when im dieting for a show or getting ready to race and am looking for peak performance, it becomes more of a priority!
I will be reviewing some products soon but if you have found a product you love, feel free to comment and share!