Sooner or later during fitness training, you come across supplements. Even today while reading this article, you are presumably looking for information about this topic.
Most folks in the gym use supplements. Whether its the post-workout shake, pre-workout booster or creatine to enhance performance.
Supplements are widely used in the fitness industry. But do we need them to build muscles or just get fit and look better?
The answer is no. You do not necessarily need supplements, at least from my point of view.
As the word itself suggests, supplements are just for support. You cannot and should not replace a balanced and healthy diet by consuming tons of supplements every day.
Of course, there is a supplement for every purpose these days, but then you should ask yourself if you really want to eat purely from chemistry.
Furthermore, the majority of these supplements lacks micronutrients like vitamins, trace elements and minerals that are essential for the human body.
No doubt that supplements like creatine and whey protein, which I take myself, by the way, have benefits. There’s no question about their purpose and usage.
For example, studies prove that whey proteins are an excellent source of high-quality protein. Also, it is well known that whey protein promotes muscle growth.
There are a lot of unnecessary and even harmful supplements out but today’s article’s main focus is about whether you need any supplement overall to build muscles or not.
If you take a look at the linked article, it evidently shows how a lot of supplements contains censorious ingredients. Make sure to precisely check all supplements you either consider to buy or already consume.
As already above mentioned, you don’t need any if your overall goal is to just build more muscles and look, fitter. But if you strive to become a professionell bodybuilder competing on stage, you do.
Despite whatever your goal is, the focus should be all about a healthy, balanced diet aligned appropriately for your body and workout routine.
What are Supplements?
Before we dive deeper into whether you should considere supplements, first I want to give you a short overview about what supplements actually are.
Basically, supplements are just additional foods to your daily diet. They cannot be considered as food substitutes. Supplements as far as the eye can reach.
Nowadays, almost everything can be found in form of a separate supplement: from “calories” to individual amino acids and certain fats.
Some supplements can help you to improve your diet with essential nutrients.
Especially folks who either follow a vegetarian or vegan diet have augmented demands for certain nutrients.
On the one hand, this is because these nutrients cannot be produced by our body itself. On the other hand, plant-based foods lack certain nutrients which means that people who nourish themselves vegan can’t either cover their (for instance, Vitamin B12) demand through production by our body itself nor through their normal diet.
As you can see, in certain situations it is even necessary to resort to supplements.
Nonetheless, the majority of supplements are either meaningless or superfluous.
Substances and Forms of Supplements
Dietary supplements occur in various substances and forms. In addition, there are often things that you’re familiar with from other industrial foods – such as flavour enhancers, sugar and other chemicals.
The following substances can be found in the most common supplements:
- Plant means
- Amino acids
Dietary supplements come in many different forms, including:
- Gel capsules
Meanwhile, it is common that the boundaries between normal food and supplemens blur more and more. In supermarkets, for example, protein enriched milk, yoghurt or other drinks is found on the shelves or omega-3 bread and similar stuff.
As consumers become healthier, the products need to keep up to those movements and develop in the same direction.
Supplements – Common Examples
After we shortly talked about what supplements actually are, let’s take a look inside the gym or fitness household and discover which products can be found behind the closet doors.
The supplement industry is a billion dollar market. Therefore, there is a constant new release of new promising wonder panaceas. It is almost impossible to keep track.
Here is an example list of the most popular supplements:
- Protein Powder
- Amino Acids
- Preworkout & Postworkout
- Weight Gainer
- Fish Oil
- Vitamin D
- Green Tea
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin K2
You can see, it’s a long list although it is only based on the best-known supplements…
What effect these supplements have and what they can be used for, needs to be considered separately. This would go far beyond the scope of this article. There are even whole books and studies on this topic.
Also, which supplements are best for you and what you may need is always individual and cannot be answered flat rate. This needs to be worked out step by step.
Just as it applies to train, it is impossible to generalize routines, supplement recommendations or meal plans to several people.
Of course, many people sell such “individualized programmes” but that only confirms once again that you should not trust everybody out on social media.
Thus, this article’s purpose is to give you an objective overview of supplements and lastly my personal opinion on this topic.
Why Do People take Supplements?
Now as we have gained insight about what supplements are, apparently the questions arise: why do people take supplements?
There are several for that. Whether out of convenience, to enhance performance, or improve endurance.
For instance, you’re having a busy day and just before dinner you only had breakfast and a small lunch.
You still need more proteins, even after dinner. Instead of cramming another meal, whey protein got your back.
Just put some protein powder and either milk or water into a shaker and there you go, 20-30grams of protein.
No question, whey protein is absolutely comfortable, delicious and also versatile. That’s why I also have whey protein at hand in my kitchen.
Whether you need a fast post-workout snack, you’re in a hurry during the day and don’t have time to properly eat, the shake to go helps you out.
To put it in a nutshell, there are multiple reasons why people take supplements. Some are comprehensible and useful. Others are even harmful to side effects.
Ingestion and Side Effects
How and when supplements should be taken depends on various factors. Such as the remedy itself and your body’s compatibility. The same goes for supplements just like nutrition and exercise. Making general suggestions for “the average person” is impossible.
Well, I could tell you tons of bullshit but that’s the opposite of what the Emerging Athlete mission is about.
We want to provide reliable, qualitative and interesting content to help you improve in every aspect of your life. Fitness, nutrition, performance and spirituality.
Just as you find nutritional information and intake recommendations printed on ordinary food products, its the same way with supplements.
In general, obviously, (legal) supplements should not have a harmful side effect on our health by consuming compulsory amounts. However, if you have any pre-existing conditions – whether mental or physical, talk to your doctor first.
What are the Benefits of taking Supplements?
While dietary supplements do not depict substitutes for a healthy diet, they still help to provide important nutrients that are either intricate to get through your diet or cannot even be found in the latter.
Protein powder facilitates to satisfy protein consumption day in and day out.
Notwithstanding contradictory claims, is now once more shown that fish oil possibly can prevent heart diseases.
BCAAs have been shown to decrease muscle damage which may help to reduce the length and severity of delayed onset muscle soreness.
Keep in mind: the general benefit of using supplements in your diet concerns getting nutrients that you cannot eat. The advantage of one product itself always needs to be considered individually.
Should I consider taking Supplements?
You’ve probably seen advertisements like “lose 10 pounds in 1 week with this product”.
Well, let me get this straight. Of course, there is no magic weapon. Losing 10 kg sustainably means hard and consistent work. That cannot be replaced by any product in the supplement industry.
But trust me, I recently lost 9-10kg myself within nearly two months. It’s totally possible, you just need to put effort, commitment and dedication into it.
Whatever your goal in life is, to leave fitness out in the cold now, you can do it. Just never stop dreaming and working for it.
Giving up is never an option.
It’s not a new and surprising discovery that the supplement market is full of products that nobody needs. Partially without any effect, except maybe side effects.
Not for nothing is the supplement industry a billion dollar business. We, folks working out, become more and more products sold in front our face every day. Again and again, a new miracle cure to bring your physique to the next level.
The funny thing is though, in times when this industry did not even exist, there were already people with good and healthy bodies.
I think that says a lot about today’s consumerist society and business’s capitalistic oriented focus.
The vast majority of products are unnecessary and instead of a win-win situation, the industry pulls the money out of our pockets and eventually only a relatively small percentage of the existing products give us benefits in return. Except for an empty purse due to overpriced, useless products and possible side effects.
Be smart and inform yourself in advance what you actually need, if you need anything, but first of all, you should try it without supplements and good nutrition only.
At the end of the day, you can get a great body without any supplements, that’s for sure. I did not use any supplements for most of my active training years.
Nowadays I found creatine and whey protein to be beneficial for me. Furthermore, these two supplements can be consumed with a good conscience. Research has shown its positive effects.
Now after you’ve got quite a lot of input about supplements, what would be your next step?
You should evaluate your diet and training level. Most of us do not need any supplements at all because our diet is relatively balanced and accordingly the performance quite strong, too.
But as always, it depends and varies individually.
For example, someone who does powerlifting or just generally wants to become as strong as possible will hardly get past creatine.
If your diet is not optimized yet, focus on that construction site first!
Most importantly, first adjust the diet and learn proper training techniques, coupled with the appropriate training plan before even thinking about supplements.
Eventually, they will only make a small difference at all.
Conclusion: Bulk Supplements
After all, do you need supplements to build muscles? To just look better?
No, certainly not. I can tell you from my personal experience that you do not need any of them. Nonetheless, there is nothing wrong using a good whey protein and creatine monohydrate.
I am using both myself for quite some time which is why I can and do recommend them to you if you feel like you need them.
Whey protein simply facilitates to get to your daily protein intake goal, can be used versatile for cooking, tastes good and is convenient for busy days to put it into a shake. Whereas creatine helps you become stronger and increase your performance about 1-3 more reps during your workout.
Despite all that, supplements do not represent magic cures. Even or illegal substances like anabolic steroids, which a lot of hardcore bodybuilder consume, need hard training and consistent proper nutrition.
Create transparency and do not let yourself get fooled. Read reviews, watch videos and find out about a supplement in detail before spontaneously buying something you’ve never heard of before.
I hope this article helped you to gain a basic understanding of supplements. If you have questions about certain supplements just leave a comment below or contact us on our social media channels.
Do you take supplements? If yes, which ones? If not, why not and what do you think about supplements?
Thanks for reading, guys!