Updated on October 3rd, 2018
Eating a “balanced” or “varied” diet has become a popular phrase for those trying to eat well. It’s also become synonymous with a healthy diet.
But, eating a varied diet may not be enough for ordinary individuals looking to get enough nutrients in their diet. It’s also certainly not enough for athletes undergoing tough training and competitions.
This is because the term “balanced” or “varied” is often set by cultural norms. This means that a certain range of foods are only considered, with some unheard of, and others often overlooked.
For example, white rice is a relatively common food in Asia. But, it wouldn’t be as common in Western Europe. Some fruits, like dragon fruit, are sometimes not even available in some European countries too.
While there are many different ways to get the nutrients you need, the above examples highlight that a balanced diet often means different things to different people. Mix in the fact that people aren’t very good at recalling their diet and it’s not surprising that most people are found to be deficient in a range of nutrients. This is despite a supposedly balanced diet.
This problem is also present with athletes. These are just studies looking at basic nutrients needed for health, too.
Another issue arises with certain “performance” nutrients. These are nutrients that are taken to improve a certain element of fitness or to boost recovery and results from training. In some cases, the amounts of these nutrients needed would require unrealistic consumption of specific foods. This can be costly as well as tough to include in a diet.
So, despite many people promoting the idea of getting your nutrients through your diet, it’s sometimes necessary to use supplements. Knowing which nutrients you should get through supplements sold by suppliers like Fusion Supplements, or others, is the trick. This can help you save money and consume a wholesome diet for better health and performance.
For this reason, we put a guide together on which nutrients you should look at taking in through foods in your diet and which you should take through supplementation from companies like Maxinutrition, the Fusion Supplements company mentioned above, or other suppliers.
Diet Vs. Supplements: How Should You Get Your Nutrients In
As hinted at above, many people don’t take in enough vitamins from their normal diet. But, this doesn’t mean that diet should be dismissed altogether.
Adding a bowl of mixed vegetables to your diet can really help improve health and weight loss, as well as boost your vitamin intake. But, as a precaution, taking a cheap multivitamin would certainly do not harm. This is especially worthy of consideration for athletes.
Despite protein being one of the most popular supplements around, ts actually one of the least necessary. Even for strength athletes, who would need more protein, it’s normally easy to get it through a diet rich in meat, dairy, and eggs.
The only exception may be for very large athletes, who may need to eat a lot of protein-rich foods to get the maximum benefit. But, these would be the exception.
Must Read: For those that are having trouble getting that extra bit of protein check out this study on the best whey protein powders.
Omega-3s are healthy fats that have a wide range of health and performance benefits on the body. These include boosting muscle growth, aiding recovery, and helping brain health.
Omega-3 fats are found mainly in fish oil. So, oily fish like cod or salmon every few days are a good choice to get in enough Omega-3s. But, for a cheaper alternative, you can also attain the same benefits from a daily fish oil supplement.
Verdict: Diet or supplements
Creatine is a well-known supplement used by athletes to boost strength, power, and speed. Is also gaining more popularity for helping brain health too. But, it’s also a tough nutrient to get through the diet.
With a necessary dose of 3 grams per day, you’d need to eat over a pound of beef each day. This may be uncomfortable and costly for some. Meanwhile, creatine supplements are cheap and effective. So, supplementation is the best option here.
Beta-alanine is a supplement many may not have heard of before. This amino acid is used to boost work capacity at high intensities and makes a good addition to creatine.
But, like creatine, it can be costly to get through the diet. Here, supplementing is a much cheaper and easier option.
This is a trickier one to call. As any coffee-drinker or fan of energy drinks knows, it’s certainly not tough to get a lot of caffeine in your diet.
But, the low cost of caffeine supplements also makes it easy to get in supplement form. But, there is only a low dose needed for a beneficial effect. There is also a range of negative effects associated with excessive caffeine intake, which is easier with supplements.
Coffee also has some cool potential health benefits, including protection against some mental illnesses. So, coffee trumps pure caffeine for overall health and performance benefit.