So you want to take care of your body, but how do you do it? What exactly do you look for when starting a new supplement program? Well, mainly you want supplements that will support your fitness goals, but with so many different vitamins and minerals it’s hard to know what exactly you need. Below we've listed a few popular supplements that women use for weight loss, and whether or not they're safe for you. We separated each category into different fitness goals you may have.
FOR BURNING FAT
1. CLA: "Conjugated linoleic acids" are actually naturally-occurring trans fats found in small amounts in dairy foods and beef. And while many studies show that CLA can cause weight loss, many other studies show that it has absolutely no effect whatsoever. According to Dr. Mike Roussell, there needs to be more research done on CLA to back the hype. He told Shape, "Despite very exciting and promising animal studies, CLA has come up very short in delivering weight-loss results to humans."
2. Thermogenic: Just as the name implies, thermogenic supplements are meant to increase the heat production in your body, which in turn should increase your metabolic rate by increasing your heart rate. Caffeine is actually considered a thermogenic and recently has made news for being a great metabolism starter. What people don't realize about thermogenics is that in order for them to work, you must train and diet with immense willpower; doing a few laps and calling it a day won't help you drop any weight. Plus, the list of side effects is as long as your arm. If you do decide to give thermogenics a go, make sure to drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest, because your body will be working harder! Always do your research on what kind of thermogenic ingredient is active in your supplement. Ephedra, a popular supplement from a few years back, was banned by the FDA because it "present(s) an unreasonable risk of illness or injury, and should not be consumed."
3. Green tea extract: A thermogenic supplement on the mild side, green tea extract will increase your metabolic rate by increasing your body temperature, but green tea extract has another secret weapon: catechin. A natural chemical in green tea, catechin attributes to the weight loss effect in the form of a substance called ECGC. The ECGC breaks down another chemical produced in the central nervous system, releasing a burst of thermogenesis.
FOR BUILDING MUSCLE
4. Protein powder: Protein powders are fast, simple, easy ways to get in a boost of energy before or after workouts. In fact, you can even use protein powder in a snack or breakfast recipe, because protein is one of the most important factors in weight loss.
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5. Carbs: Complex carbs are just as essential as protein to building muscle and to a speedy recovery post-workout. The two go hand in hand! Without carbs, your body will pull from any and all protein stores it has in order to provide energy. Unfortunately, the body can't tell the difference between the protein you just ate and the protein already existing in your muscle mass, so that's why you have to feed your body carbs.
FOR MUSCLE RECOVERY
6. Glutamine: The most common amino acid found in your body, glutamine is a primary transporter of nitrogen throughout your body. As you work out, your muscles temporarily rip and break down. During that time, your glutamine levels are depleted, which decreases your strength, stamina and recovery. Taking glutamine supplements will decrease that rebuild period after a workout, and your muscles will be aided in their recovery.
7. BCAA: Branch chain amino acids are essential acids your body finds from the protein in your food. BCAAs are used to help treat a number of disorders and disease, and athletes use BCAAs to stimulate muscle growth and even help reduce muscle breakdown. While taking BCAA in supplement form is seen as generally safe, you should use caution before driving.
FOR HEALTH AND WELLBEING
8. Vitamin C: We all know vitamin C supports immune health. It acts as a natural antihistamine, reducing cold symptoms and allergies. Its cancer fighting properties make headlines as well, in fact, its antioxidants protect cells and their DNA from free radicals and mutation. As an immunity booster, it helps strengthen your body's first line of defense.
9. Calcium: According to WebMD, more than a third of us aren't getting enough calcium on a daily basis — especially if you're losing weight. After all, an active body needs more nutrients than a sedentary one! Calcium helps to strengthen and increase the density of your bones, and it can even help with PMS symptoms and high blood pressure!
10. Omega-3 fatty acids: Not only are omega-3 fatty acids especially helpful with weight loss, they can also help with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and so much more. Your body can't make these fatty acids on its own, so you should get them from eating foods like fatty fish (salmon), vegetable oils and green veggies. Or take them in the form of fish oil supplements!