Monday, May 13, 2013

An Opinion on Supplements

The real unretouched truth.........

The article below reflects my experience with supplements. I take a multivitamin-mineral tablet along with some fish oil and that's about it. When I was younger and wanting to gain weight, I found protein supplements to be helpful as well. But nothing beats good food. In general, as the article states, the cost to benefit ratio with supplements is just not there. Nothing can compensate for lack of a disciplined diet and smart and consistent training.

“Fitness or Fiction: The Truth About Diet and Exercise”
by Brent Brookbush MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS
Purchase your copy at Amazon.com; available in paperbacke-book, or for rent withAmazon Prime
Myth #18: Most supplements are effective, I should trust my local supplement dealer.
What You Should Know: Writing this section of the book has changed my view of supplementation from skepticism to utter dismay.  There is no doubt in my mind that the supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar, bull-shit industry, with few exceptions!
So as a general rule, I steer far clear of supplementation.  But, I seem to be the exception rather than the rule.  Supplements are more popular than ever, and even high school athletes are hooked50, 143.
What’s Wrong with Supplementation
1 Because they are marketed as a food item they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means no one is policing their effectiveness, purity, claims, or potential for risk.
2 There is a general lack of unbiased third party research to support any claims made by supplement manufacturers.  Most “research studies” seen in magazines and advertisements are done by the company who manufacture the product and are inherently biased. Further, case studies, including the testimonials of individuals, represents the weakest form of research.
3 Those supplements that are effective are generally far too expensive for the small effect they have on your performance.  (Ex. $700 – $1000 a year for a product that may increase your performance by less than 1 percent.)  Personal training and education on program design strategies give you far more bang for your buck.  HMB is a great example of a product that has some effectiveness, but in the amount that has been proven effective is way too expensive for the average consumer.
4 Most supplements are so new that long term studies are not possible.  There are many supplements on the market that are so new that research has yet to be done, and long-term effects cannot be investigated.  These products may hold the key to untapped levels of performance, or they may have terrible long-term side-effects.  Supplementation must be weighed on the basis of risk versus reward. Unless you are performing at the highest levels of competition and rely on athletic performance to pay your bills, it is hard to justify the risk and expense of supplementation, and at the highest level of competition many of these substances are banned anyway.
5 Many supplements have potentially harmful side effects when combined with other medications or certain food products. (example: ephedrine and beta blockers).  The Anne Marie Capati vs. Crunch Gyms case is a tragic example. At 37 years old, Anne Marie Capati had a stroke during a training session.  It is believed that a reaction between her hypertension medication and the supplement Thermadrine (containing ephedrine) is to blame.
6 Many manufacturers overstate claim, or generalize the effects of their product to include markets that will receive little benefit.  An example of generalization:  Gatorade is an extremely effective performance enhancer for intense endurance events lasting longer than an hour, and is effective as a recovery aid post exhausting intense exercise.  Some of their advertising infers that Gatorade will enhance the performance of any activity, including pool, golf, and weight lifting.  Although Gatorade is a great product, it will not enhance the performance of short duration events and lighter activity.
7 Supplements should be just that, supplements to a healthy diet.  They should not be used to replace real food and good nutritional practices.  If you eat garbage most of the time it is unlikely one drink, bar, or powder, is going to improve your performance.  Improving your eating habits should precede any supplement considerations.  A good diet is your foundation for better health, weight loss, and/or performance, supplements are minor details in comparison.

1 comment:

  1. I like this. I often tell people that they shouldn't even consider taking supplements until at least the college level. And most supplements have very little supporting evidence, so even then I would recommend sticking to only three, creatine, beta alenine, and protein.