Protein, creatine, fish oils and apple cider vinegar. Everyone has read the articles supporting or not supporting some of the most popular supplements on the market. The science and the clever words of each article have us questioning what we originally thought, and this column might do the same!
I want everyone to know what the role of supplements is and what some of them do. Unfortunately, I can’t review every supplement on the market, but if I do my job and explain the proper place of supplements in personal wellness, you may be able to make your own judgements.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a supplement is something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. A supplement is supposed to be integrated into your nutrition as supplementation to either add something you can’t get from food or liquid, or to increase your results. I do believe in supplementing in order to better your progress, but please understand there is a difference between looking for an advantage and trying to find a shortcut. The shortcuts just don’t exist … sorry. However, you may be able to get an edge by adding a few key supplements to your daily intake as long as you are focusing on getting around four or five fruit and veggie servings in a day, and making sure you are ingesting proper portions of carbs, proteins and fats.
Creatine was analyzed again and again throughout the years and received all sorts of different feedback. At first, creatine was heavily criticized and even compared to steroids. Luckily, modern science has examined creatine further and determined that creatine is NOT like steroids. One of the benefits to the creatine supplement is that it helps replenish ATP. For those who don’t know, ATP is what the body uses for energy. It essential to for having healthy energy during a workout.
Well, it turns out that creatine helps replenish the amount of available ATP without going through as long of a process. In other words, your muscles have more energy readily available. In the 1970s, more studies determined that creatine also decreases muscle atrophy. This was huge for researchers and doctors who were looking for solutions to Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and muscle dystrophy since all of these cause muscle atrophy. This is great news for older gym-goers and wellness seekers. There is a small risk associated with taking excessive amounts of creatine in that it could damage the kidneys. For this to happen you would have to have predisposition for kidney issues and be taking more than the recommended amount, which is 10 grams maximum per day.
Fish oil is a gym rat’s go-to for joint health and other benefits. Fish oil has some anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful for general wear and tear and even rheumatoid arthritis of the joints. Fish oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can’t be produced by the body alone, meaning they have to be ingested from food or supplements. Research suggests that people who ingest fish oils will have less risk for heart disease. This could because the studies show decreases in cholesterol and triglycerides in those who take fish oil. Fish oil has also been known to aid in mental wellness. Since the brain is composed of 60% fat, supplementing omega-3 fatty acids, a known healthy fat, can help brain function. Studies have been done on those with mental disorders such as bipolar and schizophrenia and shown that they are commonly deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.
I couldn’t finish this column without addressing apple cider vinegar. In recent years, there have been claims made that ACV prevents cancer, treats diabetes, is good for digestion and helps you lose weight. The truth is, ACV may be a helpful aid in getting fit, but cannot undo or reverse the consequences of eating unhealthy and being sedentary. In other words, if you eat junk and don’t get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, don’t expect a shot of ACV per day to help you lose weight. Since ACV is proven to be more acidic, it can actually aggravate your tummy instead of help it if taken in high doses. Especially for those with gastroparesis, which is common amongst diabetics. However, ACV has been known to help keep blood sugar lower which may be helpful before ingesting lots of carbs, just don’t overdo it. ACV can also promote healthy bacteria in the gut serving as a probiotic.
In order for supplements to do their part, they need to coupled with nutrients that come from whole food and physical activity. Creatine comes from meat and fish oils come from fish and should be included your diet anyways. It’s OK to get an extra boost from your supplements, but important not to rely on them alone for results. Nothing beats a good old fashioned work ethic in the gym, and the discipline of eating healthy on a daily basis.
Nate Wilson is a certified personal trainer through NASM and is the owner of Elite Fitness LLC. He is certified for Fitness Nutrition and is a Behavior Change Specialist. Contact Nate at 640-0668 or [email protected].