Dietary and performance supplements are a topic that is frequently discussed in the fitness world. It is a multi billion-dollar industry in the United States and promises “huge gains” or “major fat loss”. The fitness world is bombarded with advertisements for various proteins, creatine, amino acids, and thermogenic products for weight loss. But where do these supplements fit in with our regular nutrition or diet?

As we talked about in an earlier post foods are made up of macro and micronutrients. Macronutrients are literally fuel for our bodies and micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals responsible for disease prevention, development, and wellbeing. Balancing these is key to performance and progress towards any goal.

When it comes to supplements it is important to remember that they are just that, SUPPLEMENTS. They are supposed to supplement or be in addition to something, in this case our diet. Our regular dietary intake should come first. It is not practical to supplement a diet that has not already met the adequate macro and micronutrient requirements. Often times the benefits that these supplements promise to give can be met just as easily with a well balanced diet. Do you really want to put extra things into your body that you could get just by eating proportioned meals?

The FDA and U.S. government hold strict regulations as to restrictions on additives, packaging, ingredients, and manufacturing systems on foods sold within the country. This is NOT the case for supplements. The Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA) states that dietary supplements require no approval from the FDA to be manufactured and sold. That means your local GNC or Vitamin Shop could literally be selling anything on their shelves. The FDA does not provide any premarket review of a product to test its efficacy. This means there is no impartial testing. In fact if you have the means you could literally start a supplement company today, pour sugar in small capsules, bottle the capsules, and sell them for $29.99 a bottle tomorrow promising the consumer weight loss beyond their wildest dreams.

Curious what supplements might be good for you? Ask us!

Before you start hating on every supplement product or store let me say that sometimes supplementation is beneficial to the athlete. When the proper legitimate products are used under the care of someone experienced with their use they can improve athletic performance, muscle definition, and weight loss. Certain products can be used to supplement some vitamin/mineral deficiencies, however they should not take the place of vegetables, which are rich in these micronutrients. When additional macronutrients are required for an athlete the first thing to look for is a nutrition facts label. The nutrition facts label informs you that the product contains nutrients that are actually found in foods. However just because a product has this label and contains some of the nutrients in food does not mean it can be eaten in exchange for healthy nutrient rich foods.

In closing not all supplements are bad. In fact they can be very beneficial in the right environment. The fact is nothing can replace a healthy diet but when additional supplementation is required proper research should be done. Consult with a health/fitness professional before you start taking any supplement, find out if you really need something additional or if you can tweak your diet to get the nutrients you need.

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