Monday 30 December 2013

Are supplements really worth it (27th July 2012)

Are Supplements really worth it?

If you don’t want to read this article in it’s entirety then the most important take home message is this: no amount of supplements will make up for a poor diet. They are not magic potions but products that you should use to enhance or complete your diet and training.

The real question should however be “are your expectations realistic” most people’s are not and they expect wonder results because either the supplement companies promise them or they’re looking for a quick fix. Addressing every supplement on the market and detailing it’s real world value would take too long, maybe a full issue so here we’ll simply look at the reasons to take supplements in general and what you should be doing before taking the leap and investing your money in products to ensure you are getting value for money.

It often amazes me how young men new to the gym think that adding a protein powder to their diet immediately qualifies them as a ‘real gym’ goer, it’s almost as if the two are synonymous and the rest of the diet can remain the same.

Before we go any further I should clarify that when I speak about supplements I am not solely talking about protein powders, Creatine, pre workout formula’s etc but the health and wellbeing side too including vitamins, minerals and digestive supplements which are all too often ignored by young men, other than popping the daily multi-vitamin.

A word of warning, the supplement industry is awash with spurious claims and marketing hyperbole, sifting through it can be very intimidating and lets be really honest if we could take a supplement and look like a cover model with minimal effort in the gym and kitchen, then most of us probably would as it would give us more time to show off the easily attained physique rather than busting our b***s making sure every aspect was near perfect. It is this that vulnerability the supplement companies hone in on, they are masters at appealing to the ‘quick fix’ character trait we have within us.

The key with supplements is to start off keeping it simple, once your diet has been addressed look at areas which need attention, times when a supplement might be easier than a meal or you need to balance out the macronutrient profile of the meal, if you need to increase your EFA’s through supplementation because you’re struggling to get them in, if the foods you are eating are nutritionally adequate or whether you want to use a multi-vitamin to cover your bases or if the increase in food you are eating means you want to use a digestive enzyme such as acidophilus. The same logic should be applied to sports supplements; is recovery from training becoming harder therefore utilising a recovery product would benefit you, are you wanting to get more reps from your sets and thinking Creatine or beta alanine can help with this and even to the more extreme side of the market of fat burners and what place they have, for some they become reliant on them while others utilise them to help them get in to the mindset of dieting, curbing appetite and cravings and supplying a ‘lift’ when calories are low.

You see many supplements and their use can be justified but what really matters is if you feel they are worth adding to your diet. Question and reason everything you think about using, think of the bigger picture of how it fits in to your diet and lifestyle and whether you are doing enough to get the most from it and if you stick to viewing supplements like that you will never feel ripped off or short changed. Approach them with caution and question the claims made and you cant go wrong.

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