Before we wade into the murky world of sports supplements, let's briefly discuss their purpose. Most people work out to look good, feel better and increase their physical abilities. However, we all know that if three is something that will give us an extra boost, we're likely to try it. Well, manufacturers of these supplements cater to people like us. Remember, though, they aren't something you take and can expect massive results. They exist with a sole purpose: to make you perform at your peak during every training session. They help you recover faster and reduce soreness so that you can train harder and longer the next time.
But wait, there's more!
These supplements aren't just helpful for performance. Some supplements also claim to ease everyday aches and pains while offering additional benefits. Some of these benefits include increased energy and improved focus throughout the day. But how? Let's take a closer look.
What are sports supplements?
Athletes have been using supplements to improve their performance for decades. The most common supplements are vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and protein. These supplements can be in the form of pills, powders, or bars. Sports supplements improve an athlete's performance, recovery, and overall health. Some popular sports supplements are creatine, protein powder, and caffeine.
Depending on whom you talk to, sports supplements are the most incredible thing to hit the health and fitness industry. But, on the other hand, some think of them as the bane of hard work. Supplements in this category have all kinds of claimed benefits, such as increased strength and improved recovery.
It's also worth mentioning that the dietary supplement industry generated more than $40 billion in sales in 2016. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, athletes are more likely to use sports nutrition products than the general population. (Source: www.verywellfit.com)
How do sports supplements work?
You can look to supplements for potential help when a workout is not enough. For example, supplements can help you increase performance, get more out of your workouts, reduce recovery time, reduce soreness, and prevent injuries during exercises. Besides the immediate benefits of supplementing with these products, long-term effects are not always apparent. Supplements can also help maintain balance in your system by maximizing the nutrients your body needs while minimizing the ones it doesn't. For example, some supplements people take are protein shakes, pre or post-workout formulas, or multivitamins.
It depends on what supplement we are examining to answer the how. For instance, if we look at creatine, this supplement's effects aren't usually noticed for a few weeks after daily use. So if we were looking at a stimulant like caffeine, you could expect to see those effects much sooner. This is because creatine is something that is already found in the body. By taking daily doses of it, we encourage the body to store more. This takes time.
Caffeine, on the other hand, acts very quickly once taken. For most people, it's usually 20-30 minutes before it takes effect. However, this is not something you would want to take a lot of before a workout because it can make some people agitated.
Do workout supplements work?
Before answering this question, we must define what we mean by "sports supplements." For example, some manufacturers use that term loosely to describe any type of product you would put into your body to improve your performance. This includes vitamins, protein powders, and even pre-workout drinks. Another important distinction is between supplements that are considered "natural" and those which have been chemically altered or synthesized.
For example, supplements with natural ingredients are classified as dietary supplements. They are not regulated by the FDA; however, larger manufacturers are monitored. These products have many benefits, but they can also have potential side effects. This could include allergic reactions, changes in mood, and/or insomnia. According to research from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), most people who consume dietary supplements do so because they believe there is scientific proof. Most believe their supplements will help them live healthier or perform better at work or sports.
As for if they work or not, unfortunately, most of them do not. Some may give you the feeling that they are working, but after regular use, you'd be hard-pressed to see any sizeable difference. But, again, this largely depends on what you're taking and the goal you are trying to attain. Sticking to protein, creatine, and maybe a multivitamin is a safe bet.
Is it safe to take sports supplements?
The first question is, 'Are sports supplements safe?'.
This is a good question and should not be overlooked. When considering a supplement, you should always look for evidence of safety and effectiveness from credible third parties. This includes the product's ingredients, dosage levels, and the amount of time used in research trials.
The second question is, 'What are the benefits?'.
Many people will take supplements without giving much thought to their benefits. Unfortunately, these individuals won't reap many benefits because they're unwittingly wasting their money. But, more importantly, time on ineffective products that might not even work!
Before you buy any supplement, consider some critical factors:
Should you take sports supplements?
There are many reasons why you might want to consider trying these supplements. First, suppose you're not satisfied with your current physical conditioning or want to take your workouts to the next level. In that case, supplements can help you temporarily achieve your goals. Supplementation can also help improve the quality of your workout, allowing you to train harder and longer in less time. They can also support your immune system and keep inflammation levels in check.
In short, there are a lot of benefits that come from adding these supplements into your routine. But other factors should be considered before including them in your diet. An example is ensuring that your workout routine is designed with your goal. You will also want to ensure that you are eating for your goal.
Types of sports supplements
There are a few types of workout supplements. For example, some supplements, like creatine monohydrate, can be found in many places. Other accessories are more specific and only offer benefits, so it's hard to find them without browsing through specific nutritional stores.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common type of supplement that people use for performance enhancement. It provides an influx of energy your muscles can use to power through high-intensity activity. As a result, creatine monohydrate supplementation may lead to enhanced athletic performance and muscle endurance during training sessions. In addition, a litany of other benefits has been shown with this supplement, such as increased strength, improved muscle recovery, and reduced signs of fatigue. Some supplements have also been reported to be able to also reduce inflammation and increase mental alertness during strenuous physical and mental activities.
Make sure that you are also paying attention to whether there are stimulants in the product. If this is something that you are trying to stay away from, you will want to pay close attention to it.
In conclusion, whether you should take supplements or not really comes down to personal preference. Ultimately, you should look at your body and how you feel. If you feel good, then supplements might be something to look into. Especially if you're competing or training for something really specific. That added edge from the supplement might be what you need in order for you to reach the final result. Just keep in mind that supplements are going to play a very small role in your overall success and will only excentuate your training and current diet.