Supplements: Stick to the Basics
By Gunnar Anderson
When you walk into any nutrition store and you aren’t exactly sure what you’re looking for or what you need, chances are they’ll try their best to sell you on everything they can. This sales tactic applies to almost everything, but supplement stores can be particularly bad. When you go to one of these stores, stick to your guns and don’t get sold. Just remember to stick to the basics.
I worked in a supplement store for around a year in college. Just to be clear, I have no bitter feelings towards the store and I’m not writing the article to spite them. I left only because I wanted to find a job closer to something I would be doing after school. If there was one thing I learned while working there it was that supplements are not essential.
I tread carefully when I say that. There are things in supplements that are absolutely essential for building muscle and gaining strength. The trick is that they can be found in foods. A strict diet with well planned and prepared meals can be much more effective than a so-so diet with a supplement regiment. Things like protein, creatine, essential fatty acids, omega 3’s, and a whole lot of others can be found in a healthy diet. Obviously it will be harder to get the same amount as you would from supplements, but it can still be done.
In the 1970’s when Arnold was at the top of his game there were far less supplements on the market. Steroids were rampant, but that’s another story. In the glory days of bodybuilding, things like pre-workouts, intra-workouts, post workouts, nighttime recovery, etc. didn’t exist. Protein powder and a few other things were all they had.
Most adults walk into a supplement store and laugh at the so-called “studies” in which the colorful containers say their products were tested. Teenagers have a different reaction. Teenagers who have just started to show results from lifting weights are the worst to buy supplements. They will spend all of their parents’ money on something that says they will gain an inch in their arms. The truth is that they probably will gain about that, but not from the supplements. Their young bodies will naturally grow when a training program begins with or without supplements.
The biggest mistake people make, young people in particular, is that they rely on supplements entirely for their results. The definition on www.dictionary.com of the word supplement is “something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole.” Supplements are meant to used with a balanced, healthy diet as well as an intense workout plan. The combination of all three is what shows results, not simply taking down as many pills and powders as you can.
Earlier I made it sound like I was saying to avoid supplement stores at all costs. That is not the case. There are many times in shopping when avoiding brand name items will save you some money and get an equal product. This is not the case with supplements. Going to places like Wal-Mart and buying the Five Star protein blend is not the best idea. Sure it is cheap, but the quality is really poor. If the container says it has thirty grams of protein, count on about fifteen. The rest is fillers like sugars and other unwanted ingredients. If you are going to be putting something in your body for an extended period and the goal is to make your body healthier, put in the best ingredients.
Nutrition and supplement stores are the best place to buy these things. The prices can be ridiculous and the sales tactics can be overwhelming, but ultimately if you are going to buy supplements they are the place to go. As long as you do your research and know what you’re going in to buy, you’ll be fine. Remember that what they are selling is helpful, but by no means essential.