This is a question I did not know how to answer for a very long time. I am new to the weight lifting, going to the gym every day world. I worked out at home and ran every day after work and ate a very balanced nutritious diet. But I hit a plateau. I needed something extra to get me over the “hump” I had a friend approach me and ask me what supplements I took, I looked at her and said “Do I need to be taking Supplements?” I had no idea!
Well I knew what I needed to do, I needed to find out for myself what my goals were and how to get there. Did I need to supplement anything? Add anything? What was I to do!? I knew what I wanted to look like.. I knew what I wanted but I didn’t exactly know how to get there. So I figured my best bet was to research and ask around. This is what I found out.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER ABOUT SUPPLEMENTS
Unless you have a particular illness, a nutritional/hereditary problem, or are required by a doctor to take a supplement, NONE of them are requirements.
Here’s the secret: There is no pill, powder, or supplement that will get you the results you want!
There is no magic bullet that will cure all of your problems.
Any advertisement or commercial that tells you their supplement will help you lose weight or build muscle rapidly without making any other changes is full of bologna.
They want to sell you the power up without bothering to tell you the importance of learning to play the game.
Unfortunately, this is what far too many people do: Eat like crap. Sleep poorly. Skip exercise. Then take a bunch of pills designed to ‘cure’ the issues associated with that lifestyle…instead of TAKING STEPS TO FIX THE LIFESTYLE! They look for the quick fix with minimal effort.
My suggestion: Eat right. Get plenty of sleep. Strength train. Simple Cardio.
ONLY after that should you concern yourself with further increasing performance with supplements.
Sales of supplements in the United States reached $11.5 billion dollars in 2012.
People love get-fit-quick products because they promise results without all of that terrible stuff called ‘hard work.’
For that reason, the supplement industry has exploded, with vitamin shops and supplement stores popping up as fast as Apple stores.
Remember playing Mario Kart, racing past your friends going for the item box, hoping for red shells or star power. Instead, you suddenly explode; it wasn’t a power-up, it was a trap! The supplement industry is no different.
The sad reality is, the supplement industry is largely unregulated. Anybody can stick a bunch of ingredients in a tub, slap a $89.99 price tag on it, and make wild claims, regardless of whether or not it’s safe. In fact, there’s no requirement to get approved by the FDA for your “dietary supplement” before you put it on the market.
So, all supplements are bad?
Sure, a strong majority of supplements are pure garbage and a waste of time. HOWEVER, there are situations in which having a supplement IN ADDITION to a quality nutritious diet can be beneficial.
Supplements can be helpful in filling in small deficiencies and increasing performance, depending on the person and situation.
Now, there are different types of supplements:
Basic supplements with few to no added ingredients: think multivitamins, protein powders and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
Supplement cocktails, which throw a bunch of things into a pill or powder and promise muscle gains or quick fat loss, whether it’s a “pre-workout,” “meal replacement,” or “post workout.” The names of these things generally have exclamation points, numbers for letters, and use Z’s instead of S’s. You know which ones I’m talking about.
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to ignore the supplement cocktails, and suggest that people ignore their grandiose claims as well. If you are an advanced bodybuilder or somebody who wants to take these types of supplements, there are sites out there dedicated to those very things.
For the rest of us, we’re going to cover the the most important stuff.
Let’s go over the most popular supplements you SHOULDN’T use.
Weight Loss/Performance Enhancers.
Weight loss pills are a big DO NOT USE. I don’t care how much weight your friend lost using the most recent version of Hydroxicut or Lipo-6, they do not provide permanent healthy results, can be dangerous, and are not the way to go.
At best, these supplements can provide short term weight loss. More likely however, they’ll either be ineffective or create even more issues. There are no shortcuts in health and fitness if you want the results to last.
Detoxes, Fasting, and Water Pills:
Cleanses, 7 day detoxes, and the like have big claims for how much weight you can lose in a short amount of time.
And they work…except that the results aren’t real and only last a day or two, making you think you need to use them again.
Diuretics (water pills) decreases the amount of water in your system through various methods depending on the pill, dehydrating you.
“Fasting” or only drinking juice for a few days actually empties your body of any real food – which can weight a significant amount and can falsely swing the scale! Detoxes and cleanses have been proven time and time again to be a complete scam.
Your body is 70% water for a reason – taking pills to reduce it can mess up your electrolytes, metabolism, your workouts, and can have lasting damage to your health.
Never take them for weight loss. The only thing laxatives actually do is cause your large bowel to empty, and the only reason you may “lose weight” while using them is that it decreases your overall water weight. Continued use (more than a week or two) can cause long term damage. If you think you’re absorbing less calories from your food by using them (a common myth) – you’re not. Our body absorbs all of the calories in your food before the laxatives have any effects.
These three big categories are parlor tricks, not real solutions. Don’t be fooled! These options only treat the symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle, rather than attacking the actual problem at its source: the unhealthy lifestyle.
Bottom line: Eat a well-rounded diet, with plenty of vegetables (including dark leafy greens like spinach and kale). If you think you do have a nutritional deficiency, or you’re pregnant, consider a multivitamin after a chat with your doctor.
Just don’t expect to pop a supplement each day and have it cure all issues.
Personally, I don’t take a multivitamin. I try and get all my nutrients through my food. I drink a glass of cold water with Oceans Alive every morning. And I have started taking a pre-workout and BCAA’s and I have noticed a substantial difference in my energy and weight-loss. I take these while working out 4-5times a week and eating a very strict nutritious diet.
These aren’t get-fit-quick supplements everything takes hard work and dedication.
If you have more questions please feel free to email me!