Should you be taking supplements? If so, which ones?
By Andy on July 24, 2018
Supplements are a HUGE business in the health and fitness world. If you are into training and enjoy learning more about it, chances are, you’ve seen the incredible amounts of supplements constantly being advertised. These range from protein shakes, to pre-workouts, to vitamins.
So which, if any should you be taking?
First, it is important to note that the absolute best way to get all nutrients is through a balanced, healthy and natural diet. A “supplement” is exactly that- something that should supplement, or add to, an already well-rounded dietary regimen.
But you can’t escape the marketing and there definitely are some supplements that are healthy and worth taking. Of course, there are many, many more that vary from completely useless to actively dangerous. We’ll go through some of the most common here.
This is probably the most common supplement you’ve seen. And if you have spent any time in the gym at all, you’ve likely seen a variety of protein shakers around. Almost every gym and pharmacy has a rack of huge protein bottles stating how these are absolutely necessary to getting bigger muscles instantly.
But honestly? It’s not only not often necessary, it’s counter-productive. Protein sold over the counter almost always has a ton of sugar or sugar-replacements added to it. That is what makes it taste so good. And if you’re in the gym, working hard, then you probably aren’t looking to gain extra fat. And that’s exactly what a high-calorie protein drink, loaded with sugar, will do- cause you to actually store more fat!
This has become a HUGE part of the supplement industry. Everyone from top-level athletes to everyday workout warriors are taking these caffeine-loaded pills and powders. This can actually be really dangerous. Artificially raising your heart rate BEFORE you even begin to work out can lead to real heart-issues. Red bull and similar energy drinks that claim to be “all natural” are some of the biggest culprits.
It’s true that sometimes having a little bit of caffeine just prior to hitting a heavy weights session can lead to improved performance. However, if you are trying to gain strength, rather than just testing it at a competition, is it worth it to “artificially enhance” your performance? I’d argue no. Save that just for competition day.
Magnesium, Fish Oil and Vitamin D
These are 3 supplements that are actually very healthy and come with almost no side-effects.
Magnesium- Magnesium is a very common deficiency among adults with up to 80% of adults not getting enough mg in their day-to-day diets. Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle soreness, poor sleep, anxiety and more. I personally take this and it makes a HUGE difference in my sleep. Start taking this one.
Fish Oil- A lot of people, especially those on low-fat diets, are not getting enough healthy fats in their diet (yes, fat is HEALTHY!). Adding this supplement is a great way to increase the body’s ability to metabolise fat, improve joint pain and increase concentration. If you don’t eat a lot of healthy fats (fish, eggs, avocados) you should probably consider this one.
Vitamin D- I know it’s strange in a place like to Dubai to not get enough Sun, but it happens a lot! We are often stuck inside for months at a time in the summer, so our bodies do not get enough healthy vitamin D from the sunlight. There are TONS of benefits of getting enough vitamin D, but it’s especially beneficial for bone health.
These are just 5 of the most common supplements people are currently using. There are many more, but your best bet remains to just eat a healthy, balanced diet to go along with a normal exercise and sleep routine to maximise health.
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