Supplements: Honest opinion and which ones you might need

Let me first start saying that supplements should complement your nutrition, not the other way around. If you haven’t figure out your nutrition, how come you are buying a ton of different, some of them useless supplements? If your nutrition is not on point, supplements will be a waste of money, they will do nothing for you.
Now, if your nutrition is looking spot on, it might be time to consider taking some sports supplements that aren’t full of lies and that can actually benefit your body and performance, depending on your goal of course. For example, creatine (which is one of the most researched supplements and that have been demonstrate to work), whey protein, coffee, beta alanine. These supplements have been studied and demonstrated to provide actual benefits and good results and their intake is also optional.  For example, you don’t need to buy a container of whey protein, if your protein intake through food is adequate.
There are other useful nutritional supplements like vitamins and minerals, and plant supplements as ashwagandha, but as I have said in previous posts, specially on my Instagram account, you should check first with your doctor before taking any of them.
Photo Credit: @fitmariamaria
In my opinion, food will always be the best and first option. You can get so much from food and do so much with food. The variety of animal protein, plant based protein, vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, are enormous. And it’s just right there, in front of us, everyday in every super market, in every farm, in many gardens, in many houses. We need to stop looking for something that’s just in front of our eyes.

In the photo, right at the top in the “no” area, you can see a pink “whey protein” container, you might wonder why. Well, that “whey protein” is for HER. Yes, it’s for “females” (what a joke). Those whey proteins for “her” can be two or three times more expensive than regular whey protein that’s been marketed for non-specific gender. Some of them aren’t even the quality of whey protein they promise. And that’s why is a “no” for me. It’s just a marketing strategy. Like most supplements in the fitness industry, it’s all about marketing and sales.

 

  • BARS

 

For me, the best “snack/energy bar” ever will be a banana. Not only because I love that fruit, but also because it provides quality energy, it provides a bunch of amazing nutrients and it costs almost nothing. For example, yesterday I paid 60 cents for one banana. A protein bar would have cost me around 2-6 dollars. If you think snack/energy bars are healthier than regular snicker bars, let me tell you that they aren’t far apart from each other. As regular snicker bars, most snack/energy or protein bars are made of palm oil, soy and a lot of artificial ingredients. Having said that, if you like the taste, go for it, but it won’t do magic for you or your body.

Of course, there is a place and time for everything. For example, endurance athletes might “benefit” the most from snack, protein or energy bars. They need quick energy and sometimes during a long competition, it’s the only energy source they’ve got, together with the energy drinks. But endurance athletes also love bananas and in most endurance competitions you will always see a banana or fruit stop.

 

  • FAT BURNERS

 

I used to work for a fat burner product. Yes, surprise yourself, I did it, I confess. It was my dad’s business and I did that for a few months when I was 17 yo. That was way before I studied and became a fitness professional. After I studied and started working in the fitness industry, I started to make sure that people (at least my clients) stop taking fat burners haha, sorry dad. I am telling you this just so you see that for me would be easier to tell you that fat burners work, in order to support the business my dad is into, but nope. I do completely the opposite and it’s because the only way to lose weight is through a calorie deficit and right amount of exercise (there are other factors to take into account as well and that might affect weight loss or muscle building). There is not magic pill or tea, you need dedication and hard work.

 

 

  • APPETITE SUPPRESSANTS

 

Why do you want to randomly suppress your appetite!? Instead, seek for a dietitian or nutritionist, educate yourself and build sustainable healthy eating habits.

 

 

  • BCAA

 

I think this is the supplement that gets the gold medal when it comes to promotion and nonsense overuse. A lot of labelled fitness “professionals” recommend it and they even dear to launch their own BCAA brand (show me the money!). They are just taking advantage of people that wants to belong to a trend or community. Best branched-chain amino acid ever? food.

The evidence for BCAA for hyperthropy is very weak. You might benefit from its leucine content, which is kind of the most important player here, but in that case you can only take pure leucine or what’s even better eat chicken, beef, pork, eggs, milk, tofu, some beans, some seeds. Once again, FOOD.

Studies (at least the ones I’ve read), haven’t been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of BCAA for hypertrophy, post-workout recovery and reduction of muscle damage symptoms. So, BCAA is a “no”, unless you want to spend money and taste some tropical flavoured liquid before, during or after your workout.

 

  • Others:

MASS GAINERS

Best mass gainer? Hypertrophy training and food.

 

PRE WORKOUTS

Best pre-workout? Sleep and recovery.

 

Best advice I can give you in regards sports supplementation 

 

  • All bodies are different, what works for someone might not work for you.
  • Trust in real professionals in the industry. If someone is not a sports, exercise or nutrition Phd’s, nutritionist, dietitian, certified and experienced fitness professional, personal trainer or coach, should you listen about their recommendations about supplements for you? The answer is easy, no.
  • Read and compare products. Not everything is what it looks, have a read and compare different brands, ask questions if you need to. Obtain the most possible information before purchasing a supplement.
  • When using plant supplements, vitamins or minerals, consult with your doctor first. You don’t know if what you are about to take is going to be useless or harmful for your body.
  • You don’t need supplements to gain muscle mass or lose fat. Training and nutrition are the fundamentals.
  • You are unique, you don’t need to do something because other people are doing it. So, you don’t need to be with a protein shake at the gym, if you don’t really need it.
  • Sleep and recovery plays a huge roll when it comes to supplementation as well. If you are getting your 7-8 hours of sleep and recovery properly, I don’t think that things like pre-workouts or energy enhancers will be necessary.
  • Athletes are the exception when it comes to many supplements intake and it’s because the level of exercise activity is very high compared to a regular individual.
  • Whey protein is not the enemy but it shouldn’t be taken as often as water if your protein intake through food is adequate.

To end with, as I always say: it depends.

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Share your comments with me below or send me a dm on social media.

 

 

 

 

 

Some references taken into account:

Creatine and Caffeine: Considerations for Concurrent Supplementation. Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015 Dec;25(6):607-23. Review. PMID:26219105

International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, Candow DG, Kleiner SM, Almada AL, Lopez HL. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 13;14:18. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z. eCollection 2017. Review. PMID: 28615996

Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality? Robert R. Wolfe. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition volume 14, Article number: 30 (2017)

 

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