Supplements: To Eat or Not to Eat?

Supplement- [noun suhp-luh-muh nt] Something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole.

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Nutritional supplements are a thing, but why do we need to supplement our diets in this day and age? Simply put: we do not have the same quality of food that we used to have. With daily living becoming more fast paced, supplements are an easy way to bridge the gap between what we eat and better health.

What is Considered to be a Supplemental Food?

In our eyes, a supplemental food is anything that does not come straight from nature. If it is somewhat healthy and has an ingredient list, it’s a supplement or supplemental food. Think of the word “processed”; anything that has been altered in some way. Some examples would be powdered protein, protein bars, fish oil or probiotics.

Why Shy Away from Supplements?

Whether we are starting our wellness journey or have been on a health kick for a while, when you have the opportunity, our general recommendation is to stick to whole foods when possible. Food that is found in the natural world is the most nutrient dense. Supplemental fare like protein bars and shakes, store-bought meats and jerky, dried vegetable and fruit snacks are okay in moderation but still check the box of processed. If need be, adhere to the “6 ingredients or less” rule; the less artificial ingredients, the better.

When Can We Eat Supplemental Foods?

If we are coming at this from a habit-based approach, we would like to see people eat vegetables and complete protein with every meal. This is where supplements usually come in. If we cannot or do not eat certain foods or simply do not have the time to prepare, adding a prepackaged item to a meal can pick up the macronutrient slack. We can also use supplements to fill the gap between meals. Check out How to Eat for a Better Metabolism for the lowdown on eating every 2-4 hours.


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Supplements and supplemental food can help pad the edges of our diet. They have their place in nutrition, but need to be limited. If we stick to eating whole, nutrient dense food we’ll have a higher chance of succeeding, period.

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