Should You Take Workout Supplements?

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Protein powder, a workout supplement Source: iStock

You walk into a health store to find supplements littering the shelves, each promoting its brand as “the cutting edge formula.” As someone new to supplements, who should you believe or talk to about which to buy? In addition, will buying the most expensive supplement formula provide you with the best results?

There is so much information out there on supplements, often driven by marketing campaigns, that make buying supplements less transparent than we hope for.

Workout supplements are an ominous territory, but it doesn’t mean you should knock them out altogether. Supplements can potentially increase your already positive progress and help you achieve bigger and faster results. There are many natural supplements on the market as well. The burning question remains: Is taking supplements worth your while? The answer is maybe. Although they aren’t necessary, they can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Still looking to try them? There are a few points to consider when looking for a good workout supplement, and we have outlined some of the questions to think about.

1. Is it safe?

pills in person's hand

Holding a handful of pills | Source: iStock

Supplements have long been a thing of controversy. Many people don’t know what they are ingesting because the label says “natural” or may contain so many positive, “guaranteed” benefits, so they may overlook the safeness of a product.

Breaking Muscle has outlined some things to be wary of when purchasing supplements. Consumers are encouraged to investigate the ingredients on the bottle. Many times there are chemicals that are natural, but not necessarily safe, that may interact with medications people take or medical issues they have. The process in which supplements are deemed “safe” or “helpful” is unclear to many. The FDA doesn’t approve supplements and has little authority to inspect nutritional supplement companies because they are not drug manufactures.

Muscle & Fitness interviewed Kamal Patel, director of Examine.com, an encyclopedia on supplements and nutrition led by doctors and experts in the field. This site requires sifting through case studies, which is not a lighthearted task, but helps navigate the confusing world of supplements. Patel suggested trying to find the best research and talking to professionals before starting any supplement regimen.

Also, if a product is FDA-approved, this doesn’t necessarily mean it has been fully proven as “safe.” When the FDA approves supplements, the process in which they reach this decision is not the same as other foods or drugs. In order to not be approved by the FDA, the FDA must prove that it is unsafe.

In addition to investigating the ingredients, look into the history of the company to see if there are any lawsuits or health advisories. Talk with others at the gym, trainers, or doctors to see if they are familiar with a product you are considering using. Gathering the most information possible on a supplement is the best way to make a decision. Don’t get sucked in by elusive marketing ploys or salespeople. Bottom line: Be skeptical about the safety. If you have looked into reviews and talked to others about the product you are interested in, there’s a good chance it is safe to use.

There are many plant-based protein powders that are great for those with food allergies, or those who are looking to bypass the crazy world of chemically-infused supplements altogether. Plant-based proteins and supplements can indeed still provide benefits.

2. How much money should you spend?

wallet full of money

Money in a wallet| Source: iStock

In reality, you should not have to spend much money on workout supplements. Basic training supplements like whey and casein are available at some stores for less than leading health stores. A natural whey or casein protein can be available for an affordable price. Don’t get sucked into buying the most expensive products.

In addition, don’t settle for the cheapest of the cheap. Certain creatine formulas can be extremely damaging to your health and interact with a variety of medicines, but other times, quality creatine supplements can be inexpensive to purchase.

Don’t waste your money on the next best thing, but don’t settle for a low-quality product that may just hurt you in the long run. Finding a specific supplement for your needs is the best way to go.

3. Will you achieve results?

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Muscular man lifting weights | Source: iStock

Some products will help you achieve results if you choose carefully, and combine these supplements with a balanced lifestyle. Kamal Patel told Muscle & Fitness that sleep is key to seeing results. In addition, Patel mentioned that muscle is made in the kitchen and built while you’re asleep. Fat is also cut through what you eat, not necessarily by the supplements you take.

Will they make you sprout a six pack and cause your arm muscles to bulge in a week? Absolutely not. Supplements, like working out, take time and commitment in order to see results. Supplements are not a magical fix for weight loss or strength gains or really any goal you may have in mind. A healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, consistent workouts and getting enough sleep are the best way to achieve results.

Buying the appropriate formula to supplement your needs will help achieve results. There is plenty of information out there to fit your exact fitness needs, but be sure to sift through the gook to find them. Beware of testimonials, hype, and manipulation through marketing campaigns or brand ambassadors. Supplements can be dangerous if you don’t do your research, or if you take an improper dosage or combination of products. Never rely on supplements alone to transform your body.

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