Sports Supplements - Are They Worth It?
We are in a fitness obsessed culture and the sports supplement market is rapidly growing, thriving on our need to look better and perform. The big question is, do your pills and powders do anything, or are you just wasting your hard earned cash?
Protein powders, creatine, caffeine, isotonic gels, protein bars…….
Do we need these additional sports supplements or can we get everything we need from the food we eat? The Telegraph interviewed Dr Kevin Currell, Head of Performance Nutrition for the English Institute of Sport. Dr Currell is not against supplements but stresses that they should be used in context and that the food that we eat is incredibly powerful, having a huge effects on us. He explains how our diet can keep us healthy, and in exercise terms it can reduce the risk of injury and illness.
By eating a nutritious diet free of processed food it can facilitate the adaptation to training, whether you want to build muscle or run a marathon, and it can make you faster. There is a load of stuff you can do around food without the need to spend your hard earned money on supplements.
Most of the general population can gain all the nutrition they need from their diet. Supplements aren’t the magic behind looking good or performing better. Supplements work to provide a handy way of consuming extra intake. For athletes that train multiple times a day, this is an important method to support recovery, repair and adaptation. However, if you are not in full time training, you will be able to get all the nutrients you need from the food that you eat with the right diet.
A lot of the supplement industry has become a fashion and people are taking a supplement because their friend or training partner says it works for them. However, it is important to realise that we are all unique and individual and what works for one person may not work for somebody else.
The convenience of meal replacements is another concern, it is tempting for busy people to use these supplements as meal replacements, because they are incredibly convenient. You could get a far more nutrition from a home cooked meal but if someone is busy and on the go, with the time to prepare, cook and then eat, means many people choose to consume a protein drink or sports supplement so they can hit the gym.
The health implications of skipping real food for supplements has not been researched thoroughly to my knowledge, but when you consider that you will be replacing real food with nutrients for processed powders and bars, the opinion that highly processed food is not good for us means replacing real food with sports supplements is only going to be detrimental in the long term.
So, if you are taking supplements, or spending you hard earned cash on protein powders, fat burners or supplements like creatine, take a second to consider if this is advantageous to your goal or if you could make more progress by looking at your diet and cooking nutritious unprocessed food for less!