It's no secret that we could all be down with a little more energy during the day, glowier skin, or a better night's sleep. But in the spirit of searching for the secret sauce of healthy living, it's not always super clear how to find the best wellness supplements to fit your lifestyle and nutritional needs. Add in the fact that many powders and mix-ins are commonly spun as beauty boosters rather than ingestible foods (not to mention, exempt from FDA approval), and you've got a recipe for...well, it's not always easy to be sure.
You already know that what you eat can impact everything from acne to mood, and while supplement powders can be a great addition to your diet, it's key that you know exactly what you're getting. A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything with additional sweeteners, additives, and ingredients you can't pronounce. "What we put into our bodies shows on the outside," Rachel Harvest, MS RDN CDN, a New York City-based dietician and lifestyle coach tells Refinery29. "Ashwaghanda and rhodiola are excellent support [ingredients], but it is important to know that, like any supplement, medication or food, some bodies handle them well and others do not. There really is no one- size fits all diet or dietary supplement regimen." If you're on the fence about a brand or ingredient, don't hesitate to consult a dietician or doctor before integrating it into your diet.
However, as the experts will tell you, adding a smoothie or powder supplement to your diet can be a great on-the-go breakfast or mid-day snack. That said, it's not a fast-track to skipping (real) fruits and veggies "I am all for getting as much nutritional bang out of every sip as possible, and often suggest smoothies as a between meal snack or on-the-go breakfast," Harvest explains, adding that "whole, organic fruits and vegetables, healthy, plant-based fats and non-dairy milk" are all amazing foods that have anti-inflammatory benefits. Bottom line? Supplement powders can be great, but nothing will ever beat the real thing: "Choose whole foods first, and use these additional products sparingly, and as needed, on a very individual basis," Mendez adds.
Another important aspect of the supplement universe is the pricing; while there are many brands creating mix-ins at a variety of price points, other powders can easily run you $80 or more. "Although convenient, [powder supplements] are costly compared to choosing a whole food option," Stefanie Mendez, MS RD CDN points out. Her simple solve is to go the DIY route: Make your own green smoothie with ingredients like kale, apples, pineapple, carrots, and almond milk, and save the powder formulas for when you're in a hurry. "You’ll get 100% of the vitamins and nutrients, feel more full from the added fiber and have the peace of mind of knowing what’s going into your body," Mendez says.
"A supplement at the end of the day is just that: a supplement," she adds. "One of the most common questions I receive in my practice is, 'Am I getting the right nutrition for my body?' Adequate nutrition depends on the individual, so pursuing more customized and tailored approaches to nutrition is something I applaud." So while making conscious choices to be healthier is a good thing, don't let it exist in a silo; get your friends together for hip-hop yoga class. Get crazy and experiment with superfoods in the kitchen. But for those crunch-time mornings, these ten smoothie powders are a healthy sub-in to sugary cereals or skipping meals.
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