When I first became a regular at the gym my friends crowded me and barraged me with questions and queries about what supplements I was going to take and buy. Honestly, I had no idea what they were talking about- some talked of creatine, others of protein powder some of amino acids. I was noting each one down mentally because I simply took their word for it.
I now beg of you, don’t do the same.
Much like any thriving, growing industry it creates its own market. A dependency is created while using these products, a negative thing regardless of the context. They will lull you in with effective advertising, “scientific reasoning” and the dependency that will follow sustained use.
So what are they? After that rather lengthy intro I will finally get into what they are. Some will be amino acids others will be long chain monosaccarides. So in English it is protein and carbohydrates. Thats it- simply dietary requirements that everyone has and needs in a powder.
So why do people take them? In regards to the nutrient itself, it is a pure form of that nutrient. That means that it is the best way to get protein in a diet because it is pure protein, better than any meat. Another reason people take it is because of the convenience that comes with a powder. It is much easier to take protein via a powder than a hunk of steak. It is much easier to take starch via a drink than a whopping great sandwich. It just makes it easier to intake the various macro nutrients into your body.
The truth behind these supplements are basically true. A weight gaining protein powder will make you gain weight because it has additional calories alongside the protein. A “lean” protein powder will simply have just protein and nothing else. A “preworkout” is effectively a shot of caffeine. However, you can create a DIY version of a weight gaining protein by combining a tasty omelette with some brown toast. A leaner protein powder would be poached eggs. Now… preworkout. In the 2012 Journal of Strength Conditioning and Resistance those in a study who took a caffeine shot could lift more than those who took a placebo. But the study did note that this effect was only present in people who had not developed a tolerance to it, developed after sustained use of the drug. It should also be noted that in recent testing of a variety of popular preworkout supplements, the level of caffeine present was dangerously high. Leading to such things as cardiac arrest and other heart issues
There are of course other forms of supplementation that people will take before a workout, ones which I have not covered in this post. However, for the average lifter these are the ones you will experience the most and so I felt these took precedence.
So the moral of the story is, please please please do your own research and make sure that those companies don’t make a quick buck out of you.