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  • Writer's pictureScott Pettey

Hydration & Supplements

Now we’re really getting into the weeds when it comes to diet. Everywhere you look in the diet and fitness industry, someone’s trying to sell you some revolutionary quick fix. Some pill, powder or quirky hydration protocol. Always with some ridiculous claim—cleanses “toxins”, “blasts” stubborn belly fat, “boosts” your energy by 684%—and full of buzzwords like “natural”, “clean”, “proprietary blend”, etc. All in an effort to get your attention on that one hidden trick you’re not yet doing. Unfortunately, the only “hidden trick” is the amount you pay and the time you waste hyper-focusing on them.


Hydration

Of course, adequate hydration is critical for health and survival. It’s so important that your body has powerful mechanisms (like thirst) that are really good at regulating your hydration. Your body is so efficient at regulating your hydration that it shouldn’t be a concern for most people because you’d really have to go out of your way to mess it up. It’s also worth noting, hydration is pass/fail. Meaning, once you’re hydrated you gain no additional health benefits—and in extreme cases experience health negatives—by trying to hydrate further.


If you regularly consume fluids with your meals and when you’re thirsty (not waiting hours to drink after you feel thirsty), you likely don’t have to worry further about hydration. Two simple ways to know if you’re adequately hydrated:

  • You regularly have clear or light-yellow urine color

  • You urinate in high volumes most of the time

Outside of special medical conditions, if you check these two boxes most of the time, hydration is likely not an issue for you.


Water, seltzer water, diet sodas, and almost all calorie free drinks are fine to consume and will contribute to hydration. Consuming drinks that have calories is also fine, but keep in mind it becomes much more difficult to maintain or lose weight when you’re drinking calories. It’s very easy to over consume calories when you drink them and liquid calories don’t help manage your hunger—a very harsh double whammy when it comes to dieting.


Supplements

You shouldn’t expect radical improvements in health or weight loss from any supplement despite absurd claims made by supplement companies. Because the supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA, these claims are usually exaggerated or made up in an effort to increase sales, so buyer beware.


If you’re really serious about your health or losing weight, supplements should be dead last on your priority list. After all, they’re meant to supplement a healthy diet. The overwhelming majority of your results will come from eating the right amount of calories for your goal and choosing nutrient dense foods that fit a healthy dietary pattern.


Let me preface this next part by saying, there are no essential supplements—you could be super healthy and lose tons of weight without taking a single supplement. However, out of the thousands of different supplements you can find on the market the select few that have actually demonstrated benefits and may be worth your money are:

  • Protein powders: whey, casein, and vegan

  • Creatine

  • Caffeine

  • Carb powders


An honorable mention is multivitamins. Vegans, vegetarians, and individuals who eat a very restrictive diet may want to consult their doctor to see if they may be at risk of deficiency for certain nutrients and supplement accordingly. However, vitamins are similar to hydration in the sense that taking more than is needed doesn’t provide any additional benefits and in some cases can cause health issues.


Outside of these supplements, you’re likely wasting your time and money. The other thing to consider when choosing supplements is the risk of contamination, so look for well known companies who have had their products tested and verified by third parties.


I wish there was some magic pill or potion that would make everyone healthy and in shape, but unfortunately that doesn’t exist (yet!). Until then, if you’re really serious about your health and dieting successfully, resist the urge to fall for quick fixes. If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is or else everyone would be doing it! Your best chance at success is to become a master of the basics.



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