If you are regular in the gym, you probably care much about your health and about your appearance, too. You are probably aware that exercising alone can only get you so far, and that the right way to achieve the best possible results is to combine physical efforts with your nutrition.
What happens when your diet does not provide you enough nutrients, though? Then, you turn to fitness supplements for correcting those deficiencies, increase muscle strength and improve athletic performance. Still, taking extra vitamins and supplements is disputed in the public because of their (un)safety. Here are some things you should know in order to consume supplements and be safe.
Don’t: Use Testosterone Boosters
Although using testosterone boosters to improve your strength in the gym (and in the bed) might sound quite natural to you, because it increases the amount of a naturally occurring hormone (both in men and women), it can produce a large amount of unpleasant side-effects. The most commonly reported (and the one that is rather harmless) is an outbreak of acne, but taking testosterone boosters can also lead to abnormal growth of the muscle, kidney damage (caused by prolonged use), occasional headaches, increase in aggressiveness, etc.
Do: Take Protein
This nutrient is found in every cell in our body and it has many beneficial functions – providing energy and fullness between meals being just some of them. Protein is essential for muscle-building and often it is impossible to get the amount you need from your regular diet, especially if your appetites are not big enough to consume the recommended daily amount of it (between 10 and 35 percent of your daily calories). That is when you can turn to fitness supplements to compensate that loss (for comparison sake – in the average scoop of protein powder there is about 20 grams of protein).
Don’t: Take Pre-Workout Supplements Lightly
In April 2014 FDA issued a warning letter regarding a popular pre-workout supplement Craze because of the undeclared ingredient that has very similar features to methamphetamine. Now, this does not have to mean that other pre-workout supplements are unsafe, but you should always carefully read the labels, and if needed consult experts. The combination of caffeine and creatine might not sound dangerous at all, but since both of them are diuretics, too much of them can lead to kidney problems and dehydration.
Do: Take Creatine Supplements
Although creatine does not have all the benefits publicly assigned to it (e.g. increased overall muscle growth) it can bring some actual perks onto the table. Namely, as a substance found naturally in your bodies, creatine increases the speed in which your body is producing energy, thus helping you train faster, harder and longer. As such, it is especially recommended to people performing high-intensity workouts.
Don’t: Waste Your Money on Multivitamins
For a long time now, vitamin supplements have been considered essential for a healthy life, and not just for athletes. Well, it seems that we have been wrong all this time, at least according to an editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. According to this editorial, multivitamin supplements have no proven benefits for otherwise well-nourished adults, and can even be harmful.
Do: Supplement with Fish Oil if You Do Not Eat Enough “Fatty Fish”
If you are not consuming enough of mackerel, salmon and tuna, you can benefit from consuming fish oil pills, especially if you do not find the taste of fish appealing. Fish oils are essential for a healthy diet because they contain omega-3 fatty acids which can increase the levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol). They can also increase bone density and calcium balance and thus aid in prevention of osteoporosis.
Do: Follow Basic Rules
Besides reading carefully the instructions on the package, you should also keep in mind the known guidelines for consuming supplements, and those are to avoid drinking them with coffee and tea (they can prevent the body from absorbing the important nutrients), consult your physician if you are on medication, and consume only the recommended dose.
When deciding for the mentioned or some other supplements, depending on your needs, make sure to research thoroughly all the benefits and possible side-effects, your body deserves it.