Why Supplements Are Worth the Investment (And The Ones You Can Trust)

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Imagine a young, inexperienced editor approaches you with the following question:

“What is the best plug-in package I can buy to become a great editor?”

As someone with perhaps a little more experience in the industry than he/she, your response might be, “What system are you editing with right now? Plug-in packages vary widely depending on your software.”

Now imagine the young editor’s response is, “I don’t know how to use editing software yet. But I want to get the best plug-in package so I can be great.”

Clearly it is absurd to think you can simply bypass learning the fundamentals of editing and skip right to using advanced plug-ins. Many of the greatest editors of all time became legends with splicers, tape, and hot glue. My philosophy is you have to be able to solve story problems with cuts (and occasionally star wipes) before you can start learning more advanced editing techniques or using fancy plug-ins.

This is also exactly how I feel about the subject of dietary supplementation.

Check out this comparison between nutritional supplements and editorial plug-ins. That's a first!Click To Tweet

You cannot simply undo the effects of eating a shitty diet by taking a Centrum multivitamin every morning. I view supplementation as a great way to enhance an already healthy diet and fill the gaps you can no longer fill through diet alone. Which brings me to the first argument against taking supplements:

Argument #1:
“You don’t need to take supplements or drink expensive protein powders.
You just have to eat real food.”

While in theory I completely agree with this approach, in today’s modern society living a healthy lifestyle consuming 100% “real food” is no longer practical. Given the industrialization of our food supply and the amount of processed junk in just about everything, it is virtually impossible to eat a natural diet of nothing but “real food.” And seriously, try defining what “real food” even means anymore (Here…let me Google that for you).

You think keeping up with the latest cameras and editing software is hard? Try understanding nutrition.

Given the amount of stress we endure on any given day, the toxins we are exposed to via technology, the horrendous food shoved under the doors to our edit caves as we bang away at our keyboards, rising air pollution levels (everyone in LA knows what I mean), and the depletion of nutrients in our modern food supply, it’s harder than ever to meet our daily nutrient requirements.

This is where supplementation comes in.

Argument #2:
“Supplements are way too expensive.”

Agreed. So is putting $6000 a year into your Roth IRA. The only difference is, on a practical day-to-day level the money you are saving for retirement is no more useful to you than flushing it down the toilet…until of course it magically returns to you decades later. If you invest in your health and begin to augment a healthy(ish) diet with supplements, the return on your investment is immediate, tangible, and can have ripple effects throughout every facet of your life.

Proper supplementation can lead to increased energy, focus, lower anxiety levels, better cholesterol numbers and a healthier blood pressure, just to name a few of the positive side effects. As far as I’m concerned, I’d pay thousands of dollars a month if I knew those results could be all but guaranteed. I’d rather enjoy life NOW than miserably await the day when I can finally dip into my 401k and start enjoying life (To clarify: You should still be saving for retirement).

That having been said, there is no getting around the fact that supplements can be expensive and will most likely require you to stretch your monthly budget. But if you’re truly serious about investing in your long-term health for your sake and the sake of your family, it is a small price to pay given the return on investment.

Several years ago when I committed to making my health a top priority, I examined my finances and realized I didn’t have a lot of wiggle room in my budget for expensive supplements. Rather than throwing up my hands and saying, “Well, guess I can’t afford to be healthy,” I sold my 3 year old Acura TL which was costing me $389.44 per month in car payments, and I bought a 10+ year old Toyota Prius with over 100,000 miles. I paid cash upfront. This meant I now had a maximum monthly “health” budget of up to $400. It also meant I had to be okay driving a battery-powered sardine can from now on.

Argument #3:
“There are so many options, and the supplement industry seems really scammy.
I have no idea where to start.”

Yes, the supplement industry is incredibly scammy, and to be honest the majority of the products available on the market are 100% garbage. Supplement scams are everywhere.

The good news for you is that I’ve spent years researching the best supplement options to help you increase your energy levels, your focus, and improve your overall health, all at a reasonable monthly cost. I am obsessively overprotective of the ingredients in my supplements as well as the manufacturing process they go through, and for over half of the supplements I take, I’m close personal friends with the doctor who formulates them and oversees how the ingredients are sourced and produced.

SUPPLEMENTATION 101

No different than plug-in packages, supplements can be a game-changer for your health, but the key is to start slow. Be systematic with your approach and think like an editor. Don’t start taking 10 different supplements at once because you’ll never know which are providing any benefit to you and which aren’t. That would be no different than adding 47 different effects and layers to any given scene and wondering which are having an emotional impact and which aren’t. It’s all about testing one variable at a time until you find the right balance for you.

And frankly, overdoing supplements will just give you really expensive pee.

In the following sections I have outlined every supplement I take on a regular basis and the corresponding benefits (and cost). Before diving into the specifics, I recommend listening to my podcast episode “Supplementation 101” with Dr. Edison de Mello, the founder of the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine in Santa Monica, CA.

One last thing…please make sure you consult your physician or a licensed medical professional before making changes to your diet and introducing supplementation. These are simply my own personal recommendations based off years of experimentation and personal research. What works for me may not work for you. Use common sense and proceed accordingly.

STEP 1: START WITH THE BASICS

If you are a Fitness In Post reader and listener, the chances are just slightly over 100% that you spend your day in front of a computer in a dark room eating pizza at least two nights per week. The combination of being sedentary, eating a poor diet, and having limited exposure to natural sunlight can lead to a host of health issues. And while supplements alone will not solve your health problems, there are two supplements I recommend that everyone in our industry start taking on a daily basis.

If you only decide to take two supplements every day, they should be Vitamin D3 and Omega-3 Fish Oil.

 

 

D5000Vitamin D3 (Monthly cost: $5.55):

Guess what will help you naturally produce the required daily amounts of Vitamin D3? Regular exposure to sunlight. Guess what you most likely get way too little of? You guessed it…sunlight.

Vitamin D3 is technically not even a vitamin, it’s actually a hormone, and it is responsible for regulating numerous vital bodily functions, not the least of which is helping to regulate serotonin and dopamine levels, meaning that one of the primary indicators of Vitamin D deficiency is depression. Keep in mind Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it is only properly absorbed into your bloodstream in the presence of fat (and no, taking Vitamin D3 with a Krispy Kreme doesn’t count).

Which is why I always take 5000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 every morning in the presence of:

EPA-DHAEPA/DHA Omega-3 Fish Oil (Monthly cost: $25.20):

Think of fish oil as “brain food.” Your brain needs healthy fats to function (yes, some fats are actually good for you). There are too many benefits of fish oil to mention in  this post alone, but know that the bargain buckets of fish oil you get at Costco are most likely filled with sawdust, so you have to make sure you get a high quality brand of EPA/DHA. Fish oil is especially beneficial for helping to reduce inflammation, something you are most likely experiencing if you undergo chronic stress or you eat processed foods regularly.

I take one fish oil capsule in the morning and one before bed.

NutreinceNutreínce (Monthly cost: $49.05):

If you want to go one step further and make sure you are getting all of your essential micronutrients every day, Nutreínce is my favorite “multivitamin” option. It is a flavored powder you add to water that is specifically formulated to be used twice per day to maximize nutrient absorption. (Click here to learn more about Nutreínce and why micronutrients are vital to your health)

I used to take one serving of Nutreínce in the morning with 12 oz of water upon waking, and then another serving around 4pm in the afternoon. And while I still highly recommend it, I chose to upgrade to Athletic Greens (which you’ll learn more about below).

STEP 2: NAIL YOUR DAILY NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS IN A SINGLE SCOOP

I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of spending the rest of my life lugging around 15 different containers of chlorella, spirulina, goji berries, monk fruit, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and any other multitude of “superfoods” you see advertised on holistic wellness sites across the internet.

I’d rather have the Cliff Notes’ version of optimal nutrition and cover all of my daily requirements in a single scoop. Here are my top recommendations:

Athletic-Greens-e1430267807826-300x256Click here to get 50% OFF your first order using this special link

 

Athletic Greens (Monthly cost: $104.95):

Athletic Greens is the advanced version of Nutreínce and has quickly jumped to the very top of my list of supplement recommendations. It is essentially “nutritional insurance” for anyone who doesn’t have the time to prepare 3 healthy organic salads per day and naturally consume their dietary recommendation of fruits and vegetables (read: EVERYONE).

Here is the “short list” of why I love Athletic Greens so much:

  • Each serving packs the antioxidant equivalent of 12 servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • It contains over 70 organic and natural ingredients from the highest quality sources.
  • It contains countless nutrients and minerals that can’t be found in everyday foods.
  • It contains essential prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes to promote and improve gut health.
  • It gives you a healthy and sustained energy boost without any crash.

I have one scoop of Athletic Greens (about 1 Tsp) in 16 oz of water right after waking.

shakeology4flavors1-e1470289159149Shakeology (Monthly cost: $108.41):

If you want a single supplement powder that does everything Athletic Greens does (i.e. delivers a ton of nutrients and superfoods in one scoop) but you also want protein, then Shakeology is my #1 meal replacement recommendation (Click here to listen to my podcast interview with P90X creator Tony Horton where we talk about why we both love Shakeology so much). Shakeology has been a staple in my diet for years, and bonus points: My kids love it too!

Keep in mind, using both Shakeology and Athletic Greens is a bit redundant, so choose one or the other. I will often alternate between Shakeology one month and AG the next, depending on my training schedule and my caloric needs.

71NKV47YDQL._SL1500_Vega One (Monthly cost: $82.42):

Vega One is the top of the line when it comes to plant-based proteins and is recommended by high performers such as Rich Roll and Brendon Burchard. I personally recommend Shakeology over Vega One simply because it tastes better and I find it more filling, but if you want to cut costs and get the next best option, Vega One is a fantastic alternative.

616i6VbHMIL._SY606_Primal Fuel (Monthly cost: $65.64):

Primal Fuel is often my go-to snack option to help me avoid the 4 o’clock munchies. It is formulated by one of the Godfathers of the Paleo movement, Mark Sisson (click here to listen to my interview with Primal Blueprint creator Mark Sisson). Primal Fuel has the perfect blend of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, and it is BY FAR the best tasting protein powder I’ve ever had.

The downside of Primal Fuel is that it is only animal protein and fat, it doesn’t contain the multitude of other ingredients and superfoods that Athletic Greens and Shakeology do, so it won’t do much for helping you nail your daily nutritional requirements, and it doesn’t have probiotics to help regulate your digestion.

STEP 3: UPGRADE YOUR COFFEE

Bulletproof Coffee KitMy longtime podcast listeners will tell you how much I love my Bulletproof Coffee. It is quite simply one of the main catalysts for the creation of the Fitness In Post program. The day I discovered that high fat intake combined with caffeine can supercharge my brain is the day my life transformed forever. (Not familiar with Bulletproof Coffee? Start here with Bulletproof Coffee 101).

Here are my go-to supplements for taking your morning coffee to the next level:

brain_octane-new-32oz_web_1_1Brain Octane Oil (Monthly cost: $20.56):

Brain Octane Oil is made of MCT’s, or “Medium Chain Triglycerides.” To put it simply MCT’s are a special kind of fat derived from coconuts that are metabolized rapidly in the body as ketones, the primary source of energy your brain prefers to burn as fuel. Just 1 tablespoon of Brain Octane Oil will supercharge your creativity and focus for hours. The fat also hinders your body’s ability to rapidly metabolize the caffeine in your coffee, so it’s kind of like a “slow drip,” meaning you won’t spike and then crash. I drink one cup of coffee in the morning and still feel the effects at 3pm.

61czGfccgRL._SY606_Kimera Coffee (Monthly cost: $27.44):

I love the regular Bulletproof brand of coffee beans, but if you’re ready to level up even higher, Kimera Coffee is infused with nootropics, aka “smart drugs.” (Click here to listen to my podcast about smart drugs with neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Hill). Make a single cup of coffee with Brain Octane Oil and Kimera beans and you’ll experience clarity and focus like never before.

Just make sure that no matter the coffee beans you use, don’t forget the grass fed butter!

 

collagen_1Bulletproof Collagen Protein (Monthly cost: $20.38):

As crazy as it may sound, I will often add a scoop of collagen protein to my morning coffee to satiate me until lunch (meaning I usually don’t have anything else with my morning Bulletproof Coffee as it already tops off at over 500 calories). Collagen protein, unlike whey protein, does not break down under the high heat. It is tasteless, textureless, and the short list of benefits includes healthier skin, improved brain function, faster tissue repair (i.e. anti-aging properties), and it helps improve joint mobility.

BONUS: A FEW ADVANCED OPTIONS

There are the basic features of any editing system, then there are the plug-in packages that enhance your existing work and take it to the next level…and then there are the plug-ins that are so advanced 98% of professionals never even touch them out of fear of breaking something.

If you want to take your supplementation regimen even further, there are a multitude of amazing options available from the brand Akasha Naturals. This entire line of supplements is hand-formulated by my personal physician Dr. Edison de Mello and used by the likes of celebrities such as Julia Roberts…and this is the stuff I recommend to my own parents.

Here are the five Akasha Naturals supplements I swear by and take every single day:

SeroRestoreSeroRestore (Monthly cost: $46.74):

SeroRestore is like the natural version of an SSRI. It increases the production and reuptake of serotonin, a neurotransmitter vital to regulating your mood. SeroRestore is used as adjuvant in the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia.

I take one every morning.


adrenal-complete-225x400Adrenal Complete (Monthly cost: $16.25):

Adrenal Complete is my defense against the stress of daily life. It enhances the function of the adrenal glands, increases energy, provides stress protection, promotes restful sleep, and a more efficient immune response.

I take one very morning.

FloraPlusFlora Plus (Monthly cost: $18.48):

Flora Plus is a probiotic. Our intestines are home for over 500 species of microorganisms that are essential to our gastrointestinal health and immune system, and recent research confirms that approximately 80% of the immune system is based on our gut. Flora Plus is a non-dairy probiotic formula that helps balance the intestinal flora, support gastrointestinal and immune health functions, and enhance digestion.

I take one every evening before bed.


MagnesiumGlycinateMagnesium Glycinate (Monthly cost: $6.50):

Magnesium is an essential mineral that acts as a co-factor for over 300 metabolic reactions in the body. It plays a key role in muscle relaxation, nerve transmission, nucleic acid and antioxidant enzyme synthesis, calcium utilization, bone structure, and normal heart rhythms. Deficiency can lead to mineral imbalances in the body and a decreased ability to counteract stress.

I take one every night before bed and it helps me to relax and fall into deeper sleep.

Muscle-EasePMMuscle-Ease PM (Monthly cost: $7.50):

Muscle-Ease PM combines calcium and magnesium with an herbal blend that includes extracts of valerian, passion flower, and lemon balm.  It produces a calming effect on the mind and body and improves restful sleep. It is a must-have for reducing anxiety before bed as well.

I take 1-3 capsules per night depending on my level of physical activity and stress.

THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING

Telling your friends you hit all of your daily nutritional benchmarks sounds cool because you read the ingredients off the back of your supplement packages. But the proof is in the pudding. So I have done a full nutritional panel once per year to make sure blood tests prove my body is actually absorbing all of these supplements properly and I’m reaping all of the health benefits.

To show you how strongly I believe in making the investment in supplements, you may feel free to click here to view my entire nutritional panel results. You’ll notice I am within the optimal range for every vital nutrient with the exception of Choline (had I eaten a single egg before my blood test, I probably would’ve passed this one as well).

YOUR NEXT ACTION STEP

In case you missed my earlier disclaimer, I want to make this 150% clear: This is MY supplement routine. It took me years of experimentation to find the right balance that worked perfectly for my body, my brain, and my budget. You may find that none of these work for you. The key is not to copy what I have laid out for you, the key is to be willing to take the first step and accept that there are benefits to supplementation and you are willing to make the investment in your health.

Your next action step is to have a conversation with your doctor or medical practitioner and see what supplement options might be right for your body and your current state of health. And if you feel your doctor isn’t up to the task (and frankly, most modern medical doctors know NOTHING about proper supplementation), I highly recommend a consultation with anyone on the Akasha Center team.

In the comments below, let us know which supplements you might already be taking and the benefits you receive from them.

I am the founder of Fitness In Post and the chief editor of this site as well as the host of the podcast. My mission is to help you sit less, focus more, and survive the brutal stress of a sedentary lifestyle in front of a workstation.I am not an expert in fitness or nutrition. I have been a film & tv editor for 15 years (Empire, Burn Notice, Glee). I have lived in the trenches, and I have experienced firsthand the consequences of living a sedentary lifestyle in the dark. After a decade of experimentation I have found lasting solutions to staying healthy while still thriving in my career. And that's why I built Fitness In Post for all of us.It's time to take back your health and start investing in yourself.