You may have heard to the term “you can’t out exercises a poor diet” which basically means that no matter how much exercise you do, if you’re eating nothing but junk food, you’re still going to put on weight and be unhealthy.
Well, there’s another saying going round the block about whether it’s plausible to out supplement a poor diet. This is simply the idea that you can rely on supplements to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs while still consuming processed snack foods and other low-nutritional foods.
There are many parts that contribute to overall health (sleep, exercise, healthy eating, supplementing when needed, reducing stress, etc.) and they’re all necessary to achieve a healthy state of being. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Translate: If one part is neglected, all the pillars could come crashing down (which can lead to ill-health).
Naturally, it always seems easier to focus on improving areas we’re already good at rather than focus on bringing another area up to par. For example, many people spend hundreds of dollars on supplements each month but “can’t afford” to purchase real, organic, healthy foods and instead buy processed pre-prepared meals and snacks.
One thing is clear though…
- You can’t out supplement a poor diet
- You can’t out exercise a poor diet
- You can’t out diet a lack of exercise
- You can’t out exercise excessive stress
- You can’t out supplement excessive stress
- You can’t out diet excessive stress
- You can’t out sleep a poor diet
- You can’t out diet poor sleep
And the list goes on and on…
There are many aspects that make up optimal health, and though it may be true that healthy eating makes up 80% of weight loss/maintaining a healthy weight, it is definitely not the only important area that needs to be focused on.
Why Supplements have Become a Regular Part of Our Diet
Our food no longer holds the same nutritional value it did back when our ancestors roamed the Earth. They used to be able to obtain all the nutrients they needed solely from their food. However, in today’s world, food is grown using chemicals, in nutrient-deprived soil, picked before it has even been fully ripened, and then it’s transported, kept in storage, and finally placed on supermarket shelves to be purchased by consumers. No wonder so many of their nutrients have been depleted!
But on top of this, our diets are no longer rich in natural, raw fruits & veggies, organic meats, and seafood. It often consists of a staple diet of processed pre-made meals and snacks filled with artificial ingredients and preservatives. It’s not surprising our bodies develop so many conditions brought on by nutrient deficiencies. To help combat this issue, manufactures have fortified their food products with synthetic forms of iron, calcium, folic acid, iodine, thiamine, and many others to prevent serious public health issues related to conditions arising from deficiencies of these nutrients.
This may seem like the perfect solution, continue eating our nutrient deficient foods and just supplement our way to good health. But it’s not as simple as that…
Why Nutrients From Food Are Better Compared to Those From Supplements
Why can’t we just rely on supplements for our nutrient intake? Well, if you think about it, if you were to consume solely protein shakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’d be getting plenty of protein and a few other nutrients, but what about all these other vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, etc. You’d be cutting out so many other vital nutrients your body requires to thrive.
The benefits of consuming a variety of whole foods are that they come with a range of vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, phytochemicals, etc. Plus, they contain nutrient pairs. These are nutrients that need one another for proper absorption in the body. For example, iron is absorbed twice as well by the body when paired with vitamin C.
More on the topic, phytochemicals are an important component in food that help in reducing the risk of conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers (among other things). Vitamin and mineral supplements do not deliver the benefits of phytonutrients and other elements found in food, like fibre.
What’s more, whole foods usually contain many different forms of vitamins and minerals. For instance, vitamin E occurs in nature in 8 different forms – but supplements often contain just one of these forms.
When observing the habits that are usually linked to long-term health and vitality, you often find a correlation between eating plenty of whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods, not so much when taking supplements.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many multivitamins (and other supplements) on the market, can be for the most part, a waste of money. Say whaaaaaat? Surprising, right? They often aren’t able to raise micronutrient levels in your body to sufficient levels your body requires to function at its best. They may raise them a little, but not as well as they could. It often has to do with the formula created by the manufacturer. (Here’s what to look for to make sure you’re choosing a multivitamin that works).
The Bottom Line
Vitamin and mineral supplements can’t replace a healthy diet, but a high quality multivitamin can help if your diet is inadequate. If you feel you could be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, it’s more ideal to look at changing your diet and lifestyle first, rather than reaching straight for the supplements. If you do need them however, ensure that you use them for just that, supplementation, not replacement of food groups, and also balance them out with a healthy, varied diet.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products.
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What supplements do you use? How have you changed your diet to help ensure you’re receiving as many nutrients as possible? Share with me below!
Wells, Katie. (January 8, 2019). Why You Can’t Out Supplement A Poor Diet. Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/2417/supplement-poor-diet/
Crowe, Tim. (September 12, 2016). Health Check: can vitamins supplement a poor diet?. The Conversation. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/health-check-can-vitamins-supplement-a-poor-diet-62291