The Clean Approach to Getting 'Ripped'

I regularly see clients who want to tone-up and build muscle. These individuals are often looking for a secret combination of foods or a single supplement that will transform their entire body from flab to fab. Well, forget the pills, potions and powders – I’m afraid nothing ever came that easily. It’s all about the timing and the type of fuel you opt for after you raise a decent sweat… and best yet, you can do it all with natural, wholefoods. Here are my favourite natural ‘training supps.’

Skim Milk (leucine)

Skim milk and skim milk powder is a fantastic choice for supplementing after strength training. It contains an amino acid called leucine that triggers muscle protein synthesis and helps with the recovery of trained muscles. Consume 500mL of skim milk or 40g skim milk powder with water within 30 mins after strength training or a BodyPump class to help with muscle development and recovery. 

Beetroot juice (nitrate)

Evidence is emerging that supplementation with beetroot juice prior to exercise can enhance exercise capacity and sports performance. The nitrate content of beetroot juice is the active ingredient underpinning the observed physiological and exercise benefits in studies currently being run by sports institutes all over the world. Consume 200 mL of beetroot juice (Heinz do a product called Go-Beet) an hour before a long bike ride to give you an extra boost to climb, sprint and aero-race like a Tour-De-France champion! 

Whole Fruit

After a strenuous cardio workout the body needs to replenish muscle glycogen otherwise you will feel extreme muscle fatigue later that day or the next morning. To replenish muscle glycogen you need to consume some healthy carbs shortly after a sweaty, heart racing session. Keep a piece of fruit handy and enjoy it within 30 mins of cardio training. 

Fish Oil (EFAs)

Fish oils can help active people in a number of ways. The EFAs in fish oils not only decrease muscle breakdown and increase muscle growth, but they also reduce the time it takes muscles to recover after exercise, aid in the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream and enhance a wide range of metabolic and hormonal functions. Pretty neat, huh? 1-2 tsp of fish oil first thing in the morning will undoubtedly help with your training load. If you cannot stand fish oil, try some sardines on wholegrain toast for breakfast or some salmon for dinner. Vegetarians could have flaxseed oil instead.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have been used for thousands of years in South America and have recently gained popularity globally. Chia seeds have many benefits including bolstering energy and endurance, prolonging hydration (they absorb water beautifully) and helping maintain blood sugar balance. Throw 1tsp of chia into your water bottle or into smoothies or even sprinkle onto salads.


If you are someone who tends to catch every germ/bug known to man, then you should take note of emerging research showing the immune boosting benefits of taking a good probiotic. Probiotics can help improve overall health, enhance immunity and even restore a suppressed immune function. A good probiotic would be of benefit to anyone exercising strenuously more than four or five times per week. 

So, train hard and keep it natural!

Lisa Donaldson (APD) – nee Simpson

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