SUPPLEMENTS: When do I need them?
In the confusing world of the fitness industry, it’s easy to get sold on many things. One being that you need supplements to succeed.
Before you let your cage get rattled a little bit, I am not against all supplements, I am more against the industry as a whole, and the majority of supplements that promise big things with little results.
The approach that the multi-billion dollar a year supplement industry takes, preys on this confusion with teams of brilliant marketers, shiny new promises in shiny new packages, new bright pink colored powders, new blue raspberry flavors, (are the blue raspberries?!) new names such as EXTRA SUPER HULK MASS GAINER, FAT MELTING MEGA SHREDDER or whatever else sounds appealing to the desperate, hungry masses of people looking for quick results. The generation I refer to as the everything now generation as mentioned in other blogs of mine.
It’s only natural to seek an easier path, so don’t feel bad about being a victim of mass marketing, I’ve been there myself so this is coming from experience. After all, water takes the path of least resistance. Constantly seeking comfort and convenience, or the easy path, will keep you fat and weak. What we don’t want to hear is that whatever you are trying to attain, will require hard work, determination, sacrifice, consistency, acquiring knowledge, sweat and guts. Sound difficult? You’re right. It is simple but not easy.
The FDA requires that supplement companies are responsible for running their own studies on their products before putting them on the market. Those studies can be done in house on mice, their own employees, on small groups of healthy young people or whatever makes it quick and easy to sell. This is typically not thorough scientific research.
A supplement by definition is: SOMETHING THAT COMPLETES OR ENHANCES SOMETHING ELSE WHEN ADDED TO IT.
In the case of your diet, if it is incomplete, we should be striving to fix the diet, not look towards magic pills to fix your problems. Rarely does a complete diet need enhancing. Are you mindful of what you eat? Are you balancing your calories, macros, and micronutrients? Is your nutrient timing and partitioning on track? Or are you an elite athlete that gets paid to train hard twice a day?
In the case of burning fat, the first thing you should be assessing is if you are consistently in a caloric deficit, not paying attention the FAT ANHILITOR 2000 add on Instagram. Are you watching your calories daily? Are you using methods or phases of periodization with your diet? Have you planned a recovery phase from your diet?
In the case of gaining strength and muscle, again, look into your diet, what could be fixed there? How thorough is your programming and how consistent are you with it? How’s your intensity? Are you over doing it? (Yes, that can be done.) Are you not going heavy enough? Are you not going through phases of periodization tracking your volume as you do?
IF, and that is a BIG IF, you have answered yes to all of those questions, and I would debate most of those that do answer yes to all of those questions, then yes, look to enhance or complete the issue with supplementation. Not the other way around.
Remember the definition. You can’t expect to get far by adding something to enhance or complete another thing that doesn’t exist.
Save yourself some time, money, frustration, and lack of results by mastering the basics before looking for the short cuts.
Supplements that are heavily studied, and ones I take periodically myself and recommend to clients of mine are quality Creatine, quality Protein powder, quality Vitamin D depending on the time of year and where you live, quality Fish oil, Caffeine, Electrolytes during or after hot, sweaty workouts, and for vegans or vegetarians BCAAs as they do not typically get complete proteins in their diet.