Supplements flood the shelves of drug stores, grocery stores and even department stores (though usually the clearance section). From touting self-proclaimed miraculous benefits to scare tactics if you don’t take them, consumer trends in health and fitness are redefining food culture. Whether or not you actually need them is the real question. Your diet is balanced, and you moderately workout. You don’t consider yourself Instagram worthy, but you’re of relatively average health and fitness. Chances are you probably won’t have a need for supplements. However, people that work out daily or perform aggressive workouts should consider checking out their local supplement store and talking to an expert. The extra effort and energy used by your body is hard to replace through your diet alone.
Why are supplements needed when working out?
Strenuous exercise takes away a lot of nutrients and can put a lot of stress on the system. Weight training requires an adequate amount of protein for muscle development to occur. It is a feat to consume enough protein before or after a workout in order to replenish the supply needed during the most critical building and recovery stages. Supplements help to provide the right level of nutrients needed for more stamina and strength during your workout career.
Are supplements safe?
Most supplements are made from natural ingredients, but this does not mean they are harmless. Always read the ingredients list and research the potential side effects. If you’re currently taking any prescription medication, discuss the supplement of choice with a doctor prior to taking them. You might just avoid some nasty complications if you do. Never take more than suggested (even if you think you need more caffeine) and stop taking them immediately if you do notice any side effects. In addition, only purchase reputable brands of supplements from reliable sellers or directly from the manufacturer.
How effective are supplements?
Not every supplement will do what it claims or is as safe as it states. Consumers should always be wary of any brand that promises amazing results. You can’t gain muscle without working out or lose excessive amounts of weight without cutting calories and becoming more active. However, there are plenty of products that are genuinely beneficial for a fitness-conscientious person:
- Fish oil reduces inflammation, keeps joints healthy and improves heart health (according to http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids)
- Protein powder shakes provide a variety of amino acids that will aid in muscle regeneration.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps the body to manage the metabolic stress of a workout and it may improve respiration during exercise.
- Vitamins B6 and B12 are depleted during workouts and replacing them with a supplement may help to reduce stress on the body and reduce inflammation.
- Amino acid blends help to repair muscle tissue after a workout. These are received through supplements known as BCAA (branched-chain amino acid) supplements.
- Calcium is lost through sweat during intense workouts that combine weight training and endurance exercises, and the body will leach calcium from the bones to replace what is lost. A combination of Vitamin D and calcium supplements can help to prevent this loss and strengthen bones.
How should you start?
You are probably (and understandably) overwhelmed by the number of options available and will question what you specifically need. The best solution is to start small with a doctor’s recommendation and choose one or two supplements. This will make it easy to distinguish if a specific supplement is causing any side effects as well as to determine if any benefit is noticed from its use. If you are still worried about the safety or efficacy of a certain product and its brand, don’t hesitate to consult with a House of Gains staff for additional guidance.