The Right Way to Supplement


The world of fitness is overrun by products promising to improve performance, from bands and straps to shorts and shoes, and finally, supplements. However, of all these products supplements are the ones to monitor closely because they are the ones that your members are putting in their bodies.

Being aware of the supplements your members are ingesting is essential because of the impact they can have on performance, both positive and negative. Also, supplements influence the progress your members are making toward their weight and body fat goals.

For example, imagine a new member who just joined your gym and has little awareness of what supplements do. She visits a supplement store and is convinced to purchase three types of protein. The salesperson also recommends she drink three shakes a day.

If this member’s goal is to lose weight, what will adding three shakes a day do to her progress? Most likely, she is not burning enough calories to balance out the three shakes. She may not see progress as quickly as she expects and become frustrated.

The Right Way to Supplement

Pre- and Post-Workout Muscle Recovery Supplements: Liquid whey protein is recommended for pre- and post-workout recovery because of how quickly it is absorbed into the body. Ascent and SFH are two recommended, clean whey proteins. Whey protein will also help your members meet their daily protein goals when building muscle.

Aminos, Magnesium and Zinc: These vitamins play a role in optimizing athletic performance. If a member is deficient in any of these vitamins, they can take a supplement to meet their daily goals. When choosing how to take these supplements, gel caps and liquids are more effective than solid pills which are loaded with filler.

Omega-3s: This fatty acid plays a large role in after-workout recovery. It can also improve mood and heart health. When choosing an omega-3, recommend to members to look for DHA or EPA on the label. This is because many supplements that claim to have omega-3s only have them in small amounts.

Snack Bars: Most of your members will rely on snack bars in between their daily meals. If you have one or two go-to snacks that you promote at your Affiliate, you are ensuring they are choosing balanced, nutritious snacks. RX Bars – ideally kids size – and FroPro bars – which you can get discounted using the code CrossFit at checkout – are the two top snack bars on the market in terms of being clean and balanced.

Quality: We know supplements are not closely regulated. Therefore, it is important to choose a supplement with the Informed Choice sticker. Informed Choice is a third party that tests supplements to ensure what is on the ingredient label is accurate. Using this standard when purchasing supplements will keep members from ingesting unknown ingredients.

Supplement Trends to Avoid

Meal Replacement: Most of your members’ vitamins and protein should be coming from whole foods. Try to steer them away from meal replacement, and recommend they only use supplements if they are not reaching their daily goals.

Sugar: Supplements can sometimes be loaded with sugar. Additionally, some members will assume supplements must be healthy and overconsume them. Show members how to look at the label to determine if the supplement has too much sugar, which can set them back in their goals.

Don’t Overload: Avoid taking supplements and vitamins all at once. Spread them throughout the day to maximize absorption. A person’s body can only absorb a certain amount at one time.

Whole Foods

When it comes to nutrition, our goal is to promote whole foods over supplements whenever possible. In some instances, you may have a member who needs to supplement for a meal. For example, they may not like to eat breakfast but can drink a shake. In most cases, we want to steer them away from replacing meals with supplements, as well as using untested supplements.

​Nicole Aucoin is a registered dietitian and founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, CrossFit HSN, and HSN Mentoring. ​HSN Mentoring i​ s the largest nutrition-business mentoring program in the world. Helping over 2,000 gym owners and Coaches worldwide, HSN provides a turn-key solution to gym owners looking to take their nutrition program and offerings to the next level. Nicole has a podcast, G​ row Your Nutrition Business Podcast​, where each week she interviews fellow thought leaders in the community and provides actionable steps to help you build your business. Healthy Steps Nutrition is releasing a new stand-alone nutrition coaching course, which is a C​rossFit Preferred Course​, Basics of Nutrition Coaching, on August 18.