This was originally part of a larger article on the three biggest myths about supplements but it took on a life of its own so here it is!!!


No 3

Costly supplements are not worth it!

piggy bank supps

I’m the first to say that people rely on the ‘pill for every ill’ mentality far too much. In reality eating good quality fresh food, from a range of natural sources is a much better option. But life can get in the way, our to-do lists get longer and sometimes somewhere in  midst of working, looking after parents and children, our car, our house, our finances and our gym time, nutrition can fall below par.


So strategic and smart supplementation is a necessity for most people. But with everything we should be focusing on quality not quantity!!


Fish oils are a great example.  Taking a good fish oil supplement is a way to maintain a healthy EFAs ratio (essential fatty acids) and experience many health benefits including:


✅Improved blood pressure and cholesterol


✅More energy


✅Smoother skin


✅Healthy heart


✅Optimal cognitive function


✅Healthy joints and cartilage


This I hear time and again…


‘Why should I pay £10 for fish oils when I can get them in asda/tesco/lidl for £2?’


Take the lid off the cheaper variety and you can smell the reason why.


Cheaper fish oils are less stable even though they have been more heavily processed.  They SMELL rancid as soon as you take the seal off and this shouldn’t be the case.  A higher quality fish oil not only increases the bioavailability of the product but also won’t smell bad!


So why are some Supps more expensive?


Well it’s all about quality.  Very often (I’ll admit not always) the supplement is a higher price because it is a higher quality or it is more expensive because the manufacturing process is costly.


BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) are a prime example of this. The variation in price of these could have the average consumer scratching their head because it’s the same three ingredients in them all! Leucine, isoleucine and Valine! The difference is the ratio of leucine to the other BCAA’s.


Leucine is considered the master regulator in muscle protein synthesis(MPS). This really means that leucine is the limiting factor, we need more of it to ensure MPS can take place.


So and ideal ratio is 4:1:1 of leucine:isoleucine:valine or above. The higher the concentration of leucine in the product as compared to the other bcaa’s will have a significant effect on price point. If the bcaa’s are micronized or instantised this will also affect cost.


Protein powders are an another example. The benefits of these supplements are well documented:


✅Maintain blood sugar stability


✅Promote healthy insulin secretion


✅Support your immune system


✅Help you preserve your muscle mass


✅Maintain healthy blood pressure levels


✅Better heart health


✅Boost your glutathione levels naturally – the master of all antioxidants


But Consider that you have a variety of protein powders on the market ranging from whey protein laced with soy to hydrolysed or protein isolate, ranging from £20-£80 respectively.


The bioavailability of these proteins (ie how much you’ll actually absorb) varies greatly as does the rate of absorption.


The amount of protein per serving is also very important, as is the protein content per 100g. If there is less than 20g of protein per 100g then you can also guarantee that there is a host of fillers/bulking agents/nasties in there!


Most proteins are not a great addition to your supplement regime because they are:


✖Loaded with artificial sweeteners, flavours and colours


✖Are sourced from cows treated with potentially dangerous hormones


✖Are high in sugar or processed carbs


✖Use cheap high heat manufacturing processes that denature the proteins rendering them useless


✖Show deliberately misleading labels and hide unwanted ingredients behind obscure names


✖Contain proteins that are hard to absorb


✖Taste awful


✖Make you bloated and gassy


If you don’t want to pay for a good quality protein then you would be better sticking to wholefoods.


There are many things to consider when buying a good standard whey protein:


✅Make sure it is free of any artificial colours, flavours, and most importantly artificial sweeteners


✅Ensure that it is sweetened naturally (usually stevia or inulin) if at all


✅Whey needs to be cold processed and sourced from hormone-free, grass-fed milk


✅Easy to digest and doesn’t make you feel bloated


✅Tastes good


But a general rule of thumb is to buy a protein made from organic grass fed cow whey, and with this you won’t go far wrong!!


My personal favourite is Icon Nutrition Grass Fed Whey (Copy the link below into your browser to purchase). It is a high quality and highly absorbable form of protein! Pea, rice and hemp protein are good vegan alternatives but please avoid soy at all costs.


As my granda used to say ‘you only get what you pay for, and very lucky at that!’



Naomi McArdle MSc

PTI Tutor


*Bioavailability simply refers to how readily a food/isolated nutrient or supplement will be absorbed into your system.  Traditionally it has been thought that animal sources of protein have a higher Bioavailability as compared with plant/vegan sources. There are a host of reasons for this. But more recently we have become aware that how much you actually absorb is very dependent on your own gut and digestive health.  This means that even if you are taking something that has a score of 100 in the bioavailable stakes you may not absorb it all because your system isn’t working at an optimal level.


Icon Nutrition Link:


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