Posted on April 20, 2018 by Josh Puttock

Supplements are used in almost every gym and sporting environment you see, whether they are being sold at the shop or being prescribed for those in professional sports. If you weren’t aware already, they’re basically something extra you add into your daily food intake to get certain benefits.

People take them for a load of different reasons, sport and non-sport related. They might be increasing protein consumption (whey), reducing catabolism (l-glutamine), boosting immune function (vitamin C) or supporting achy joints (glucosamine).

Dependant on health and training goals, which are two very different things, you should really think about whether you should take supplements or not – and which ones you should go for. Regular goals can be wanting to live healthily or improve one’s skin for example, while training goals could be to lose body fat percentage, increase muscle mass or support consistent performance.

First identifying which category you fit can help you decide. And funnily enough, nobody really needs to take supplements. With a practical training programme and a well balanced diet you can go a long time without reaching for those tablet-filled plastic containers at your local health shop! But we all know that’s not going to stop people from buying them.

A study completed in the US identified four different categories of supplements and their uses…

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins & minerals are nutrients your body needs in small amounts to work properly and stay healthy.  These supplements aid your body in daily functions. They provide the body with vital nutrients that are often missing through current working adults diets. The most popular type in this category are multivitamins. Some examples of what you receive in multivitamins are:

  • Vitamin D (regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body which basically means it keeps keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy)
  • Calcium (help build strong bones and teeth, regulating muscle contractions, including heartbeats & make sure blood clots normally)
  • Vitamin C (help to protect cells and keeps them healthy, maintain healthy skin, blood, vessels, bones and cartilage & help wounds heal)
  • Vitamin B/B complex (supports normal energy-yielding metabolism & contributes to the reduction of tiredness & fatigue and supports normal functioning of the nervous system)

Specialty Supplements

These supplements are more likely to be popular fish oil supplements as they are generally used to lower blood pressure and treat rheumatoid arthritis, among other benefits. Some examples are:

  • Fibre (reduce heart pressure, help control blood sugar levels and inflammation)
  • Glucosamine/chondroitin (slow or prevent the degeneration of joint cartilage, the underlying cause of osteoarthritis pain)
  • CoQ10 (compound that helps generate energy in your cells)

Herbals and Botanicals

These are often consumed through drinking green tea regularly. Other natural ingredients that were common for people who use herbal and botanical products are:

  • Garlic (combat sickness such as the common cold)
  • Cranberry (relief from urinary tract infection (UTI), respiratory disorders, kidney stones, cancer, and heart diseases)
  • Echinacea (encourages the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu and some other illnesses, infections, and conditions)
  • Ginseng (believed to boost energy, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reduce stress, promote relaxation, treat diabetes, and manage sexual dysfunction in men)

Sports Nutrition and Weight Management

Sports supplements are prescribed for various uses. Whether the goal may be recovery, performance or increased size. Some prime examples are:

  • Protein supplement (increase muscle mass when ready protein isn’t available or when intake of protein is difficult in everyday life)
  • Energy drinks and gels (provide glucose to your blood stream and provide an easily absorbable form of carbohydrate. Usually taken by athletes after intense training sessions)
  • Garcinia cambogia (increases weight loss through loss of appetite)
  • Green coffee (handles how the body’s metabolism works)

Here you can see some of the various types of supplements that are out there, but deciding which ones to take is solely dependent on what you want your outcome to be. I’m not saying you have to only pick supplements from one category as you can mix and match, but always remember to link it to your goals.

This is because too much of anything can negatively affect your body in various ways. As long as you adopt a healthy and varied diet (that means eating all your vegetables, greens included) then you can limit your supplement intake. However if you are someone whose food choice is limited through work or what’s available, then it can help your body out when missing vital nutrients.

Naweed Zaman, Gym & Spa Operator