If you’re confused by supplements and what they even do, you’re not alone.
“Whether in pill, powder or liquid form, the goal of dietary supplements is often the same: to supplement your diet to get enough nutrients and enhance health,” explains Jeffrey Millstein, MD, physician at Penn Internal Medicine Woodbury Heights." (1)
It doesn’t help that constant ads, doctored photos, TV commercials, and online hype consistently litter our newsfeeds telling you that you’re doing something wrong and you need product(s) XYZ to fix it, leaving you feeling insecure, or even dubious of the efficacy of the product being advertised. It can be difficult to understand which ones are right for you, whether they’re safe, or if you actually need them at all.
Before we get into this more, it’s important to know the simple (but highly ignored) principles of eating right, training well, staying hydrated, and consistently getting plenty of rest are usually enough for maintaining health and performance levels. But life can get in the way and we are all different people with different lifestyles, genetics, needs, requirements, and goals (TRUEING). Supplements may assist with some of these.
“In addition to a healthy diet, there is evidence that some supplements can benefit your overall well-being with little to no risk,” says Dr. Millstein.” (1)
Are supplements a waste of money? Yes and no. As mentioned previously, it really depends on variables like your goals, current diet (whether restrictive or not), lifestyle, etc. Supplements are not a quick fix or a cure-all and not all brands are created equal.
“There are supplements that can enhance performance, plus give you more energy and stamina during training,” explains Tom Nikkola, CSCS, vice president of nutrition and virtual training at Life Time. “They can also reduce muscle soreness so you recover faster from training sessions and are able to train more frequently.” (2)
Some instances where supplements are commonly used:
- Micronutrient Deficiencies
- A multivitamin or single-purpose supplement like vitamin d or b12 can help provide 100% recommended daily value of micronutrients.
- Increase Performance or Energy (Calorie) Expenditure
- Pre-workouts and fat-loss aids come to mind here. Think of these like a force multiplier for your workouts.
- Daily Protein Intake
- Supplementing with protein is not only very helpful for those on a restricted diet, like vegetarians and vegans, but it could also be a convenience factor for this limited on time but are unable to meet their protein needs for the day.
- Recovery and Muscle Building
- Recovery is the most important part of gaining muscle. After a workout, muscles remain sensitive to anabolic stimuli for about eight hours. Consuming simple carbohydrates and protein or amino acids in a liquid are a quick way to ensure your body can refuel after a strenuous workout. Or taking a slower digesting protein like casein before bed is another commonality for athletes because it keeps the body sated through the night and the muscles with no short supply of amino acids.
- Digestion, Mood and Stress Regulation
- People will often have a hard time digesting certain foods, or even any food, without having flatus, bloating, or indigestion. Digestive enzymes can assist with this and the changes you’ll notice can be seldom or drastic depending on the user. Having proper digestion and healthy gut bacteria can have a large affect on mood as well.
“Scientists have found that gut bacteria produce many other neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and GABA, which are critical for mood, anxiety, concentration, reward, and motivation. The gut microbiome can cause changes in how our brains react. (3)
In closing, supplements do indeed work but one needs to evaluate brand quality, their needs and goals, and budget before making a purchase. No cap. We’re here to help with this, so please feel free to reach out if you ever need assistance with anything. See you on the next one kekw.
(1) Dr. Jeffrey Millstein, MD
(2) Tom Nikkola, CSCS, vice president of nutrition and virtual training at Life Time.
(3) Jessica Schrader, Psychology Today
Disclaimer: Before taking any nutritional supplements, always consult a medical doctor. If you’re pregnant, nursing, have or suspect a medical condition, or are taking any medications, please consult a doctor before acting on any of our recommendations.