To Supp or Not To Supp

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We’ve all seem them.  The guys that carry around a GNC shaker, partially filled with some bright-colored mystery powder, poised to add water and slug the pasty-looking contents immediately following their final set.  Is this really necessary?

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive:  “What supplements do you use?”  My answer now, and for the last year, has been simply, “none.” But, is it the correct answer for everyone? Absolutely not.  We’re even split here at Throwback as Ryan uses protein powder as a quick and easy alternative to eating more food.  When I used my last bit of protein powder over a year ago, I made a decision to experiment without it.  I had been using it since high school so I thought my body could use a break.  So far, I have not noticed a difference.  I have not lost any muscle mass nor has my performance suffered, so for me, there is no reason to go back.  To be honest, the thought of the chemicals used in some powders, coupled with the similar results I witnessed without the added protein, led me to stick to whole foods for my nutrients.

Aside from protein, there are literally thousands of different products to choose from when searching for supplements.  Be warned that the safety of long-term use of certain products is questionable at best (the majority do not require FDA approval). However, there are others that have been around for decades and are considered to be safe AND very effective.  For example, creatine has been proven time and again to aid in adding muscle mass and strength, but there are side effects that can come along with overuse. Make sure the potential long-term risks are worth the short-term rewards.

It’s important to experiment as best you can before deciding that you need to carry around a shaker and spend tons of money at GNC. It’s been written in bodybuilding magazines for years that you require one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight to maintain and/or add muscle mass. Just because it’s thought to be common knowledge does not mean it is always correct.  I have not ingested anywhere near that amount of protein in any day for the past several years and have not experienced any loss of muscle mass.  You may find that the same is true for you, allowing you to eliminate supplements you once thought to be necessity.

I’d like you to try something: Let’s take it back to basics.  Give up supplements for 30-60 days and get your nutrition from whole foods. Giving your body a break from the chemicals in supplements can be a good thing, and it could also save you money. I find that my body feels best when I eat foods consisting of only one ingredient: chicken, eggs, peppers, broccoli, apples… the list goes on. If you consistently make smart diet decisions, you may find that whole foods can provide all the nutrients you need to stay lean, strong and healthy.

Written by Brian