In a modern age where the advertisement is inescapable and woven into the very fabric of our daily lives, the fitness industry is more visible than ever before. It used to be that fitness models were only seen in magazines and on billboards, but in today’s world, your ideal fitness model with the perfect look can be personally target-marketed to you through social media. This ever-increasing fitness idolization can lead to people mimicking a lifestyle of strangers they believe will earn them the same physical outcome. Consequentially, oftentimes, on their road to appear as fitness authority figures, these idols routinely recommend supplements to their followers on very loose terms. While supplements are very beneficial, there are not always right for everyone. In this article, we will cover some of the pros and cons of fitness supplements.
While there are plenty of studies conducted on behalf of fitness supplementation, the findings can be conflicting at times. For this reason, it is important to understand where the benefits and shortcomings lie, but more importantly why you want to take supplements and what it can do for you.
Protein supplements are by far the most popular in the fitness industry. It’s basically a staple “food” in the bodybuilding community, but should you consume it? – Like most recommendations, it depends. Read below and determine what’s best for you.
Protein powder is versatile and very convenient. It can be mixed with the different beverages and can be made instantly on the go. Not only is it packed with a ton of protein designed to be fast or slow digestion, but it is also delicious. Protein shakes can be made to easily fit any schedule or diet. Whey protein for example can be simply mixed with water in seconds and proves extremely beneficial for building muscle and supporting lean muscle mass. Other protein blends can also be used to curb hunger as a way of supporting fat loss.
The downside of protein supplementation is that many manufacturers focus on the taste rather than nutrition. Since there is a high demand for delicious tasting protein, many companies deliver a product packed with sugar and other flavoring additives. This approach negates the goal of supporting lean muscle growth, to begin with. Protein powder also often displaced real food in an athlete’s diet. While powders can provide ample protein in a diet, they are almost always missing other nutritional values like vitamins and minerals that you would normally get from a real food source.
This is a natural substance found in the body that helps make adenosine triphosphate also known as ATP. ATP is responsible for providing energy for muscle contractions. This effect often pumps water in the muscle to make them appear bigger. Creatine is perhaps the second biggest supplement consumed by men in the fitness industry.
Creatine is great for sculpting a bodybuilding physique. It can make athletes stronger in the offseason allowing them to lift heavier loads with higher repetitions for growing bigger muscles. Creatine can even support lean muscle mass, enhance overall athletic performance, and in some cases has been said to help boost testosterone levels.
Creatine can cause temporary weight gain, muscle spasms and cramps, diarrhea and nausea, and even worse significant damage to your kidneys. When taking creatine, it is important to consume enough water as the supplementation can also cause dehydration which can lead to a slew of other problems.
This central nervous system stimulating compound is very common in the fitness industry’s supplement stack. It is consumed before a workout to increase focus and energy. It is also known to enhance performance by adding a heightened sense of intensity to the athlete.
Caffeine is a natural substance that can help suppress fatigue and exertion. Because of this, caffeine is said to improve performance on aerobic exercises such as jogging, swimming, cycling, and similar exercises.
Caffeine can cause respiration problems and an increased heart rate. When consumed in high doses, they can even cause sleeping disorders like insomnia and anxiety. Other minor side effects of caffeine include headaches, chest pains, and tingling in the skin.
After looking at three of the most popular supplement types on the market today, it easy to see that supplements aren’t cut and dry. They possess a myriad of benefits in many areas but also have some shortcomings too. It is important to note that when deciding on whether or not supplements are right for you, ample research and professional consultation should be considered. For some, it may be medically damaging to take certain supplements, while for others the benefits may be exceedingly rewarding. In the same regard it is safe to say that with the proper guidance, most people would receive marginal benefits from supplementation. This is not to say supplementation is right for most people, but it is an option that should be considered. Moreover, it is perhaps more beneficial for athletes to prioritize natural food sources whenever possible over consuming supplementation as organic foods tend to better support a more well-rounded diet without the detrimental side effects of the alternative.
Always note that the fitness industry and the supplement market today is flooded with too many products target-marketed by untrained salespeople. This is unfortunately at the expense of uninformed consumers who are simply following a trend. There is often little to no discussion about potential side effects that can be caused by supplementation or even the actual benefits for that matter. In addition to the lack of transparency surrounding supplements in the fitness industry, the monetary cost can be high in some cases causing the marginal benefit to be very slim for most.