Top 5 supplements that work (& those that don’t)
There is almost always a love-hate relationship in anything that we come across or do in our lives. For example, it can be as simple as switching on the AC in our bedrooms for a very comfortable sleep but hate wrapping ourselves tightly from head to toe with a blanket leaving just a little space for the nostrils to breathe due to fear becoming a cold stone. When it comes to staying fit, we would love to look and feel sexy in front of the mirror with a body to die for but hate putting the effort to move our seats to the gym and lift weights. How different is our attitude towards supplements then? As much as we love to consume every promising supplement for muscle gain and fat loss, the effort in placing the order, paying for it (major part of the love-hate situation), consuming them in a day without fail is a thorn in the flesh. So does all the supplements advertised in the market work? What if they turn out to be another marketing gimmick? Let me tell you, supplements are not angels but neither a devil (unless you buy a costlier one which doesn’t give you results). Alright lets find out those that have been proven right first up: Whey Protein No prizes for guessing. Easily the most popular health supplement among recreational lifters and fitness enthusiasts, Whey has been in existence ever since the inception of body building. What was originally believed to be only for body builders (atleast that is what the gossip was about for a long time), whey protein is now consumed even by people who are occasional to the gym irrespective of the gender. Oh yeah, Whey protein is still believed by many or that thought is forced upon females that it is only for the male fraternity. Somehow I am yet to see the National Commission for Women filing a law suit for gender discrimination (or probably even they secretly believe it is for guys only). Trust me when I say this, Whey protein is for everyone. It is a constituent even in baby foods. The reason I quoted whey protein as the first supplement in this article definitely has a reason. My heart goes out to this poor thing for being called many names. Steroid (most popular nickname for whey), kidney damager, gender changer (apparently a female changes to a male after taking a scoop daily). If gender change was that simple after taking a scoop of whey, section 377 of the IPC would have been abolished much earlier with marriages being allowed without a question being asked. Bottomline is whey is not steroid, does not change genders, doesn’t damage kidneys. It is just a medium of completing your protein macros conveniently every day. Not mandatory if you are doing it through natural foods (veg or non veg). P.S: Similar abusings, nicknames, myths apply to Soy protein and casein protein supplements also. Creatine Whey to Creatine: “Ha, not too far behind mate” Thanks to the white colour of Creatine, it is actually believed to be a steroid (Personally would like to meet that brain which coined all white powders are steroid). And ya there are still larger population that believes creatine damages kidneys more than whey protein does (If whey and creatine were human beings, I can see how much whey must be laughing at his colleague now). Creatine is one of the most researched supplement like whey and it is absolutely safe for consumption. Creatine per se doesn’t damage your kidneys unless there is an pre existing kidney malfunction. The myth about creatine doesn’t stop with it damaging kidneys but also a on how much to start with initially and the need for cycling it (start-stop method). To quash the first part, you DO NOT NEED to start with the popular practice of ‘Creatine loading’ where 5-6 scoops of creatine is taken for a week and then subdued to one scoop a day. Creatine loading is not needed. You can start with just one scoop per day preferably post workout. This is one other where in people advise you to take as a pre workout. Creatine does not have to be necessarily taken as a pre workout to boost your workouts. According to research, taking it post workout is proven to be better as compared to pre workout intake. Creatine holds water within the muscle cells (intra-cellular) and not extra cellular (another popular myth). Creatine does not have to be cycled ie., you don’t have to complete a course, go off it for a while and then start again. There is absolutely no benefit of this exercise. Hence if you are using creatine, continue to use them as normally as you would. Caffeine Probably the god sent angel among the supplement category is caffeine. A component that is included in many soft beverages, caffeine is the cheapest and widely available supplement. Nobody bats an eyelid when it comes to caffeine except that it is termed as an addictive agent (although the war between fans of Tea vs Coffee would continue to fight a bloody battle as to who is superior) . People who love coffee would find too difficult to let go off their love. A very popular pre workout, black coffee is the go to drink for people on a ketogenic diet or a carb based diet which has been proven effective for activity lasting 1 hour or more. According to research, a caffeine intake of 1-3mg/kg of body mass is good enough. So go ahead and keep sipping the cup for the day but observe caution on how much you are consuming in a day as it can interfere with your sleep. Go easy folks Omega 3 Among all the supplements quoted here, this is one supplement even doctors would happily nod their head without any qualms. Omega 3 fatty acids have beneficial effects on the human anatomy. Reason being called as Omega 3 is because it has sub compounds such as ALA (Alpha linolenic acid), DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid). ALA is primarily found in plants and the other two in Animal foods. Benefits of Omega 3 include positive impact on cardiovascular health and inflammatory disorders. Omega 3 is very beneficial for feeding mothers as it can have beneficial impact on the brain development of the baby. Helps reduce triglycerides (the villain behind all the heart problems and not cholesterol) in the body. Go ahead and pop in the omega 3 supplements after your breakfast. Vitamin Supplements When you wish to lose weight, your approach would be eat in calorie deficit. During this process, you may not get all the necessary vitamin and minerals from the food that you have included in your diet which may cause health issues. There might be some hit and miss with regards to certain vitamins. It is advisable to consume as an addition in the form of supplements to ensure your immunity stays intact. Some of the beneficial ones you can consume in the form of a tablet or capsules are Vitamin C (500mg dosage), Vitamin E (400 or 600mg) and even one multivitamin during the day. There is no harm in taking them as tablets or capsules as they do not have any side effects unless you consume them over and above the recommended doses. Supplements… That don’t work Typically the ones that are marketed well as a fat burning supplement are very popular. Few other supplements that have been popularised in the market are also covered as follows: Fat burners As much as I love to trash the idea of fat burners, its a sad reality that people actually waste a lot of money on this than all the supplements mentioned above put together. Reason? Short cut to losing weight. What they don’t realise is fat burners are a prime example of expensive stupidity. When science says ‘Eat less than what you need for the day to lose weight’, why do you need to buy stuffs that don’t work if you are gorging on food more than what your body needs? There is no point in crying over spoilt milk. And then we have supplements like Carnitine, Taurine, Tyrosine, CLA etc. Research findings on these supplements have proved them to be ineffective and does not provide any added benefits. Conjugated Linoleic acid (CLA): CLA is a term used to refer a mixture of fatty acids. A popular supplement among lazy bones or ill informed personal trainers, CLA has been investigated for its effects on fat burning, steroid signalling, glucose/fats metabolism. Sadly, the studies done on humans in factors such as impact on insulin sensitivity, weight loss, fat mass have proved to be highly unreliable. Taurine: Taurine is an organic acid which acts as a lipid/membrane stablilizer in the body. Although it is been heavily researched on its impact on controlling blood sugar and reducing insulin resistance, there is no proven effect on fat oxidation, or significant influence on blood pressure or the heart rate. Key takeaway People thinking that drinking scoop after scoop of protein shakes in a day will help them find a place in the body building hall of fame will continue to fail every day. Those thinking eat every junk that is sold in the nook and corner of their street and then popping cod liver oil capsules to keep their heart free from cardio vascular diseases can add the Medical Emergency dial-in to the ‘Favourites’ section of their phone contacts coz they might need it very soon. None of the supplements listed in this article will work unless you are willing to. Get your act right and work your butt off and supplement right.