‘I can tell you that we get people every day coming and asking us “do you sell needles?” Needles?! I thought, not understanding at first. Then I understood they must have thought that we sell steroids. To me some of the funniest stories actually are the ones which are not that funny, but in a way kind of sad, because of the misunderstanding of nutrition.’ – Reggie Johal founder of Predator Nutrition.
Everyday people come to us and ask us questions about supplements, questions that we think everybody already knows. The truth of the matter is that there are so many myths and mysteries about taking supplements that fitness amateurs and experts all struggle with the facts.
That’s why we teamed up with James Davis from The Fitness Blogger Network, an online health & fitness community and bloggers networkto find out what people want to know before they even consider taking a sports supplement. James reached out to his community and put us in touch with some experts to discover and answer the most asked supplement related questions.
MEET THE EXPERTS:
Are Supplements Dangerous?
Nick: All supplements on the market will have gone through rigorous testing procedures prior to being made available for sale. Individuals may experience side effects from some supplements, for example, bloating whilst using creatine.
Steve adds: Supplements should not be confused with steroids or other enhancement drugs – typically supplements are made from edible materials, processed to remove the unnecessary bits. However, if you have allergies or intolerances, ALWAYS check the ingredients before taking them.
How Do They Work?
Steve: It depends on the supplement – they are taken to help achieve a particular goal. The way the supplement is designed to work is dependent on the desired results. For example: mass gain supplements work by increasing the amount of calories in the diet, creatine works by improving the work capacity of the trainer and protein works by increasing the rate of protein synthesis to aid muscle build.
Sam: Supplements are designed to support your diet in optimising your body’s abilities to function and repair. This is done by increasing the supply of the supplement in question, reducing potential bottlenecks in the recovery process or in the conversion of energy.
Are They Tailored to Men and Women?
Nick: Men and women often have different goals and reasons for hitting the gym and using supplementation. Supplements are tailored to suit these goals. Women for example, often target fat loss so whey protein supplements aimed at women will often be very ‘clean’ forms of diet whey with very few carbs and lower calories per serving.
Men and women also have different micronutrient needs for health (women are often low in iron for example, whilst this is not usually the case for men) and so supplements such as daily multi-vitamins will reflect this.
Sam: Some companies market certain products towards individual sexes, but unless they contain ingredients that affect hormone balance then they can be taken by either sex. Hormone based supplements are the only ones that are tailored to either men or women, and should only be used by the gender they are designed for.
How Do I Take Them Responsibly?
Nick: Supplements are safe. But some result in side-effects for some individuals, particularly those containing stimulants, nitrous oxide and/or beta-alanine. The best thing to do is always to stick to the dosage recommendations provided by the manufacturer.
Steve: You read the instructions, understand what the supplement is and how it works and then start with a small dose. If you suffer no ill-effects you can increase that. When it comes to anything in life, knowledge is power. Chances are the supplements are perfectly safe, but the more you know, the more informed you are around taking them and getting the most benefit from your supplement regime.
How do I combine supplements into my diet?
Sam: Supplements are what they say. They are there to ‘supplement’ a diet, not to replace it.
Steve: Start by reading the instructions and understanding what you are trying to achieve. Some supplements are to be taken before you eat, some are to be taken with food, some are after training etc. To get the most from them, use them as intended. Remember supplements are to supplement your diet – not replace real, good quality food.
Nick: Supplements are just that, they are meant to supplement your diet. For example, those engaged in intense resistance training often find it hard to get enough protein for recovery in their diet through whole food alone, and will often employ a protein powder supplement. Additionally ensuring you get all the micro-nutrients and fatty acids your body needs through diet alone can be tricky so it’s often worth taking a daily vitamin and essential fatty acid (EFA) supplement. Beyond that you can add supplements such as creatine, t-booster, fat burners, etc. to help support your goals and your diet program. The important thing to note through is your diet should be on point first; otherwise you won’t get the best results out of the supplement anyway.
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