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It’s advisable to consult your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking supplements of any kind.
As you rely less heavily on carbohydrates, you tend to store less water and therefore can become dehydrated more easily and experience mild electrolyte imbalances. It's important to make sure you are getting enough water and electrolytes for the first few weeks, while your body becomes fat adapted.
Quick note: if you have kidney issues, take water pills, or have been advised against changing your sodium intake make sure you check with your healthcare provider before playing with your electrolyte balance.
Electrolytes needed: sodium, potassium, and magnesium are the key imbalances experienced.
Sodium: when insulin is lower (the goal here), sodium is excreted from the kidneys more readily meaning you likely need extra. I'm not talking processed table salt here though. My go-to's are pink Himalayan salt or sea salt.
Magnesium and Potassium: we are a magnesium deficient society period. Add into that alcohol intake and stress, and it can be a real problem. Potassium is also at risk of deficiency for similar reasons. Bottom line? You need to get your electrolytes in to feel your best.
Best foods: salmon, avocado, dark chocolate, pink Himalayan salt or sea salt, leafy greens, nuts, bone broth.
This is a general guide, the Hormone Guide will expand on supplements.
We all want the magic pill that's going to make weight loss easy and effortless. The one that will make inflammation go away, boost your immunity, and magically just make you the healthiest person ever. Right? Unfortunately, that pill doesn’t exist.
That being said, there are plenty of supplements that can be a HUGE help when it comes to losing fat (the right way), reducing inflammation, increasing energy, boosting immunity, balancing hormones, balancing blood sugar, and just all around feeling better. These are supplements that provide your body with nutrients that it may be missing or those that are used too quickly for your food to keep up. These supplements can also help you relax and sleep better.
Unfortunately, the supplement world is a HARD one to navigate. There's a LOT of crap out there, and supplementing with the wrong things can be ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. That's where this guide comes in.
Supplements for Daily Use
Magnesium: also known as the relaxation mineral. This is amazing for constipation, tension headaches, sore muscles.
Fish oil: a good quality fish oil is essential for dealing with inflammation. It's also very important for brain health, hormone health, gut health, etc.
Vitamin C: a powerful antioxidant that is helpful for adrenal health, liver health, thyroid health and building the immune system. As a water-soluble vitamin, we excrete what we can't use right away, meaning you should take a half dose in the morning and another half in the afternoon for optimal benefits.
Vitamin D: imperative for bone health and your immune system (among many other benefits). Your Vitamin D should be in dropper form and ideally suspended in MCT oil to aid absorption. You need at LEAST 1000IU of Vitamin D, but many healthcare providers recommend supplementing 3000IU to 4000IU per day for best results with inflammation, bone health, and the immune system.
Probiotic: gut health is essential for good health. Everything, literally everything starts in the gut. Probiotics maintain a healthy gut ecosystem which impacts everything from digestion to skin health to weight (and so much more). You can also choose to eat fermented foods every day like sauerkraut and kimchi; they have their own probiotics all ready to go. If you're opting to supplement, I would suggest the HCP line by Progressive and make sure to take your probiotics in the evening before bed.
B Complex Vitamins: so important for energy as well as supporting your adrenals and thyroid and hormones. Take B complex vitamins in the morning and at lunch for better energy all day.
Biotin: very important for skin, hair, and nails as well as for metabolism of proteins, fat, and carbohydrates. Biotin is poorly absorbed when you have a leaky gut so larger doses may be needed in this case.
Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea), also known as “golden root”, is an adaptogen herb with tremendous fat-burning, energy-enhancing and brain-boosting power. Adaptogens including Rhodiola are a group of plants that can help your body adapt to physical, chemical, and environmental stress. Rhodiola is one of the most effective in this family, due to containing active compounds like rosoavin that have the ability to help balance stress hormone including, cortisol.
Rhodiola rosea is a stress-busting supplement that by goes by several names, including: arctic root, roseroot, king’s crown and golden root.
What does Rhodiola do to the body to help make it more capable of dealing with stress?
As an “ergogenic aid” and an adaptogen— or a “natural herbal product that is non-toxic in normal doses, that produces a non-specific response, and that has a normalizing physiologic influence”— Rhodiola is very helpful for improving both physical and mental energy and for fighting the negative effects of stress. It helps body adapt to stress by decreasing or preventing hormonal changes tied to prolong stress. Research suggests that some of the ways it does this is by acting on beta-endorphins and opioid neuropeptides to enhance stress tolerance and by positively affecting other stress adaptation factors.
Rhodiola has been proven to have at least four major health benefits. The top Rhodiola uses include:
Helping to lower the stress hormone cortisol
Fighting depression and improving brain function
Supporting weight loss and helping to burn visceral/belly fat
Increasing energy and athletic performance, while reducing mental and physical fatigue
Supplements for Occasional Use
Aloe - excellent for stomach or digestive issues. It is super soothing and can help to support an irritated gut. In my house, we keep aloe around in case anyone catches a stomach bug, or eats something that irritates their digestive system.
Teas are such a lovely and relaxing way to supplement. Teas are typically made from dried herbs and are usually safer than supplementing with herbal supplements in their whole form while still being effective. There are many different teas on the market. These are my top three to aid in detoxification and the beginning stages of balancing your body.
Milk thistle. This powerful herb is jam-packed with the ability to support your liver through detoxification. It also decreases inflammation, acts as an antioxidant, and stimulates the production of bile, which is important as we add all sorts of great healthy fats into the diet.
Turmeric. This superpowered ingredient is a star when it comes to inflammation. Turmeric is an excellent antioxidant, cancer-preventive, liver protective, AND it aids in fat metabolism. That makes turmeric a superstar something we want to incorporate as much as possible You can make your own turmeric tea or buy one.
Matcha Green Tea. This slightly different type of tea (it's the powdered leaves of the plant that are added directly into your tea instead of steeped) is a very powerful addition to your routine. Matcha contains the amino acid theanine which produces a relaxed but alert mental state and gives you sustained energy and very clear thinking. Matcha is also rich in something called catechins which have been shown to boost metabolism which is exactly what we want to do as we support healthy fat loss.
BCAA’s - Branch Chain Amino Acids
I strongly suggest purchasing a quality BCAA from a reputable store. Drink them in the morning when you are fasting.
BCAAS can not only assist in the building of skeletal muscle, they can help you maintain muscle mass while dieting.
Dieting can lead to muscle breakdown. As the body gets leaner, muscle loss can happen as the body tries to hold onto fat stores.
The basic equation for muscle mass is: Muscle mass = rate of protein synthesis (Protein synthesis is the metabolic process when your body makes new muscle protein, also known as gains) - rate of protein breakdown.
When the rate of synthesis equals the rate of breakdown, you don't gain or lose muscle. If the rate of synthesis is higher than the rate of breakdown, you get muscle growth. When the rate of breakdown is higher than the rate of synthesis, you lose muscle. If you're dieting, you may be burning the candle at both ends: raising muscle breakdown and lowering protein synthesis.
How BCAAs Help
Increase Protein Synthesis
Branched-chain amino acids (which are the essential amino acids valine, isoleucine, and leucine) stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Reduce Protein Breakdown
Increased BCAA levels also work in your favour by reducing the rate of protein breakdown. They do this by decreasing the activity of the protein breakdown pathway, and also by decreasing the expression of several factors involved in protein breakdown. Increasing synthesis and decreasing breakdown will equate to muscle gain or maintenance.
Amino acid supplementation could also help you get a more intense workout. Branched-chain amino acids compete with the amino acid tryptophan for entry into the brain, where tryptophan can be converted to the neurotransmitter serotonin.
During exercise, serotonin levels rise and can make you feel more fatigued, meaning you won't be able to push as hard.
BCAA supplementation reduces the amount of tryptophan that gets through the blood-brain barrier, and therefore reduces the amount of serotonin produced. This might allow you to work harder and longer.
It can be beneficial to incorporate BCAA’s into your fasting phase to help preserve muscle and maintain energy.