A while ago, I wrote a feature for Body Fit magazine about common fitness facts (and fiction). One of the experts who provided me with useful comments was Dr Sam Christie, an independent nutritionist who works with Nature’s Best on the research side of things. Dr Christie mentioned that she is always interested in answering queries about nutrition from particular groups of people. When I said I was a competitive bodybuilder, she told me to send over some questions which she’d gladly answer.
Many weeks later (so sorry!), I’ve finally got round to airing her answers! Here’s our Q&A, I hope you find something useful within it, whatever sport you do and whatever your level of activity.
thefitwriter: What are your areas of interest?
Dr Sam Christie: My research thesis focused on the effects of non-pharmacological OTC treatments for benign reproductive-age. I continued to collaborate with enlightened universities and hospitals on nutrient and plant-extract research, where we looked at conditions as varied as asthma, osteoporosis, fatigue, pre-diabetes, women’s hair loss and gut health. I have been a keen cyclist and dancer for many years.
tfw: What in your opinion are the most important supplements for female natural bodybuilders?
DSC: Clinically, a mineral-heavy, stress and free-radical-offsetting multi-nutrient and herbal extract programme is a vital cornerstone of a healthy diet for natural body builders. Having said that, adequate omega 3 and use of menstrual-cycle normalising supplements (where necessary) are important too.
tfw: Our training tends to be very stressful on the body and we are often dieting alongside this. What do you think are the most crucial three supplements for anyone putting their body through stress?
DSC: A good multi-nutrient, fish oil and calcium/magnesium supplement. See below for more of an explanation.
tfw: A particular area of interest to me is rest and sleep. Can you recommend anything for better quality sleep?
DSC: Naturally, uncover any psychological and physiological factors alongside undertaking stress-reduction techniques. Alongside this you could use Valerian officinalis extract (2x400mg extract tablets 1 hr before bed), gallons of chamomile tea (two tea bags per mug – leave the bag in to infuse) and additional calcium and magnesium if a detailed diet-diary shows you to be lacking.
tfw: What is your opinion on caffeine as a pre-workout “booster”?
DSC: If this just used to raise vitality and concentration, you could use an extract of Siberian Ginseng (around four hours before training) to get the boost without the side effects of caffeine, which some people won’t want or tolerate. Siberian Ginseng is the world’s best-known and most highly-researched adaptogen. Because it has a caffeine type of action, it really is best taken first thing in the morning. Nature’s Best Siberian Ginseng is a sophisticated extract that has guaranteed levels of the active ingredients (eleutherosides). Many people, particularly women, find that Siberian ginseng works better for them than Korean Ginseng. It is regarded as a more gentle preparation and, indeed, is often referred to as the female ginseng.
Dr Sam Christie’s supplement and dietary programme for natural body builders
DSC: On balance, we eat too much carbohydrate as a nation, particularly of the refined variety. Low GI (glycaemic index) carbohydrates (oats, brown rice, pulses) are perfect for sportspeople including bodybuilders at around 30% of total calorie intake. These slow-release forms of energy are terrifically filling and micronutrient-dense, full of glucose-stabilising minerals such as chromium, magnesium and zinc.
Magnify the priming effects of foods by using a multi-nutrient supplement: I recommend a minimum of 200mcg of chromium, 15mg of zinc and 400mg cinnamon extract (MultiGuard Balance contains a clinically-relevant supply of B vitamins which aid in cortisol normalisation), alongside Vitamin D and omega 3 fish oils. Also time-released Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, time-released; £11.95 for 180 tablets). However, without the use of intense exercise-relevant supplies of calcium and magnesium (OsteoGuard) the adrenal gland may not be fully supported, and insomnia – along with other nasties like low afternoon energy -can kick-in. Research shows that many women in the UK fail to consume anywhere near adequate calcium and magnesium supplies from their food.
To offset exercise-induced inflammatory responses, don’t cook with sunflower oil or related products, as these are terrifically high in omega 6 fats. Eating oil-rich fish (omega 3 fats) three times a week and taking daily fish oil supplements will optimise your omega 3/omega 6 ratio and – along with a minimum of five portions of fruit and veggies a day – will ensure minimal inflammatory load from the diet.
I hope you found this blog post helpful. Thank you, Sam! I am going to be trying out Nature’s Best’s Siberian Ginseng, omega 3 fish oils, MultiGuard Balance, Vitamin D and OsteoGuard as recommended by Dr Christie, and I’ll report back in a few weeks.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.