In previous posts we have emphasized the benefits of protein as well as described the proper way to choose them for a healthy diet, but we haven’t discussed getting protein through supplements. Some people believe they have a “short cut” to receiving the benefits of a healthy diet without all the work a by taking supplements. With that said, taking supplements is not always bad, they are immensely helpful for the individual struggling with deficiency when a nutritionist prescribes them. There are many reasons people choose to take protein supplements, including building muscle, losing weight, strengthening fingernails, sleeping better, and relieving pain and depression; but do supplements actually do all of these things? The general answer is no.
Many people in the athletic or active population think of protein as an ergogenic aids. An ergogenic aid is an external element that is used for the intent of enhancing physical performance. Examples of this are protein powders, amino acid supplements, and steroids. Protein powder and amino acid supplements are controversial because of their questionable ability to enhance athletic performance whereas steroids are controversial because of the inherent, dangerous physical effects.
An example of a protein supplement is whey protein. This supplement has actually been proven to enhance muscle mass slightly but has not been proven to give an advantage in athletic performance. However, muscle size is increased not the by supplement alone but in combination with resistance exercise that fatigues the muscle.
Amino acid supplements
Some people take individual amino acid supplements because they think they have particular positive effects on the body. Although some amino acids are essential, they do not exist in food in isolation and can be harmful to the body if presented that way. In fact, large doses of a single amino acid may inhibit the absorption of another amino acid; with long-term use this could potentially lead to toxicity in one and deficiency in the other. Amino acid supplements can lead to adverse effects such as diarrhea because water collects in the digestive tract in attempt to create equilibrium with the concentrated supplement.
There’s no doubt that steroids can seriously alter someone’s physique to make him or her appear to be the ultimate athlete, but they come at a high cost. Anabolic-androgenic hormones can have negative physical effects on the mind, face and hair, voice, chest, heart, abdominal organs, blood, reproductive system, muscle bones and connective tissues, and more. The athletic advantage gained by taking anabolic steroids is not worth the cost of your overall health. An example of the impact of steroids includes more aggressive behavior, termed “steroid rage,” as well as anxiety, psychotic depression, personality changes, and suicidal thoughts.
The concept of supplementation is not one unique to athletes; it exists in the sedentary population as well. It’s not unusual to hear people talk about taking a multivitamin every morning or a vitamin or mineral with seasonal changes; however, adequate vitamin and mineral intake can come from a well balanced diet and, in fact, supplementing a specific vitamin when you are not deficient can be damaging to the body. Vitamins and minerals work synergistically with food and therefore depend on each other to be absorbed. Therefore, all you’re getting by taking a multivitamin is expensive pee (not worth the money in my opinion). However, some studies have proven that taking fish oil and vitamin D daily have a positive effect on the body.
Most supplement companies draw those interested in getting their ideal body through false advertisements. It is important to remember that these companies have a primary goal of making money even if it means using advertisement tricks to sucker someone into buying something they don’t need. An example of this is the “too good to be true” approach to nutrition advertisement quackery; meaning that the supplement promises intense results in a minimal amount of time. Although supplements like protein shakes, bars, and drinks provide convenience they do not replace the benefits of a healthy diet and cannot makeup for a lousy one.