Can You Out-Supplement a Poor Diet?

You might have heard the phrase; “you can’t out-exercise a poor diet.” No matter how much exercise you do, if you’re eating nothing but junk food, you’re still going to put on weight and live a very unhealthy life.

The same goes for supplementing. The idea that one can rely solely on supplements to provide their body with all the nutrients it needs, while consuming a diet of processed foods, is just not plausible.

There are many factors that contribute to overall health (i.e. sleep, exercise, healthy eating, supplementing when needed, minimising stress, etc.) and they’re all necessary to achieve a healthy state of being.

Naturally, we as human beings find it 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; instead buying processed, pre-prepared meals and snacks.

According to Wellness Mama;

– You can’t out-exercise a bad diet
– You can’t out-supplement a bad-diet (this is a big one!)
– You can’t out-diet lack of exercise
– You can’t out-diet lack of sleep
– You can’t out-sleep a bad diet
– You can’t out-diet lack of exercise
– You can’t out-diet too much stress
– You can’t out-exercise too much stress
– You can’t out-supplement too much stress
Etc, etc etc

While healthy eating makes up 80% of weight loss/healthy weight maintenance, it’s definitely not the only area that needs focus…

Why supplements are needed in our diet

Our food no longer holds the same nutritional value that it did back when our ancestors roamed the Earth. Fresh food used to be able to provide all the nutrients needed, but in today’s world, food is grown using chemicals, in nutrient-deprived soils, picked before it’s fully ripened, and then transported, kept in storage, to finally be placed on supermarket shelves, ready for purchase.

On top of this, our diets are no longer rich in natural, fresh fruits & veggies, organic meats, and seafood. A staple diet often consists of processed pre-made meals and snacks filled with artificial ingredients and preservatives.

While supplements can deliver a concentrated dose of certain vitamins & minerals, you can only pack so much of each nutrient into a multivitamin pill, & often it’s not even close to the recommended dietary intake.

To help counteract this problem, manufactures have fortified their food products with synthetic forms of iron, calcium, folic acid, iodine, thiamine, B12 and many other nutrients to prevent serious public health issues related to conditions arising from nutrient deficiencies.

This may seem like the perfect solution; continue eating poor, nutrient deficient foods and just supplement our way to good health. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that…

Why nutrients from food are better than those from supplements

If you think about it, if you were to solely eat protein shakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’d be getting plenty of protein and a few other nutrients, but what about all the other vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, probiotics, enzymes, etc? So many other vital nutrients needed by the body to thrive would be completely cut out.

Wholefoods 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. An example of this is iron, it’s absorbed much more effectively when paired with vitamin C.

More on the topic, phytochemicals are an important component in food that help with conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers (among other things).

According to The Conversation;

Vitamin and mineral supplements do not provide the benefits of phytochemicals and other components found in food, such as fibre.

Furthermore, wholefoods contain many different forms of vitamins and minerals. For instance, vitamin E occurs in nature in eight different forms (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol) – but supplements often contain just one of these forms.

A supplement I use to help aid detoxing in my body; it contains chlorella (can help remove heavy metals & other harmful compounds from the body), chlorophyll (helps detoxify the blood and liver, & eliminates odours), cilantro (a.k.a coriander, which helps boost metabolism and flush out toxins), & modified citrus pectin (a wonderful detoxifier). I take supplements along with eating a diet full of wholefoods.

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?

They often aren’t able to raise micronutrient levels to sufficient levels your body needs to function optimally. They may raise levels slightly, but not as well as they could. It often has to do with the formula created by the manufacturer. (See here for more info)

As stated by The Conversation;

The doses present in multivitamins are typically low. After all, you can only pack so much of each nutrient into a multivitamin pill, and often it is not even close to the recommended dietary intake.

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 recommended to look at changing your diet and lifestyle along with supplementing, rather than straight supplementation.

As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. It’s important to check with a doctor before taking this or any new product, especially if taking any other medicine or supplement or if pregnant or nursing. Be sure to check ingredients to make sure there is no risk of an allergic reaction.

What are some of your healthy habits? Share in the comments below.

Lots of love,

🖤 Vanessa

Sources:

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

Vitamin E. (Updated: March 26, 2021). NIH. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

Klerck, Ray. (November 10, 2015). Can You Out-Supplement A Bad Diet?. Body Building. Retrieved from https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/can-you-out-supplement-a-bad-diet.html

Ducharme, Jamie. (April 8, 2019). Vitamins and Supplements Can’t Replace a Balanced Diet, Study Says. Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/5564574/supplements-vitamins-health/

Wiegman, Stacy, PharmD. Can multivitamins make up for an unhealthy diet?. Share Care. Retrieved from https://www.sharecare.com/health/vitamins-supplements/can-multivitamins-substitute-healthy-diet

Ligos, Laura, MBA, RD, CSSD. (May 2, 2018). You Can’t Out Supplement a Bad Diet. The Sassy Dietitian. Retrieved from https://thesassydietitian.com/you-cant-out-supplement-a-bad-diet/

Vitamin and mineral supplements: when are they needed?. (February 4, 2019). My Dr. Retrieved from https://www.mydr.com.au/nutrition-weight/vitamin-and-mineral-supplements-when-are-they-needed/