img-no-whey-man-480x250Nowadays you can go to your local health store and find hundreds of supplements on the shelves. They can be for joint pain, fat loss, hair growth, pretty much any problem that you have there is a supplement that helps. I’ve been wanting to write an article regarding this topic with whether supplements are bad for you or not, but haven’t really gotten around to it. This is something that I get asked on a weekly basis, and today something happened to me that just sparked me to drive home as quickly as I could after my workout session, sit in front of my computer with a huge glass of water and some BCAA’s and get to work.

So what happened? I was at the gym minding my own business doing some cable curls when I overheard a conversation between two younger guys. One guy was trying looked like he was trying to put on some size, and his friend just seemed to be there for support (by support, I mean distracting him, and telling him to hurry up so they could go to the club). Anyways, the conversation went something like this: “hey man, if you keep drinking those supplements your liver is going to shut down. I can’t believe you mix all that crap together and drink it. You don’t know what companies are putting in that stuff. Blah, blah, blah.” I stopped listening after he said all that, because if I did for any longer, I would have chimed in and said something, but I wanted to do my workout and get out of the gym.

Though I agree with the part where he says that his friend doesn’t know what companies are putting into their supplements (the case of Jack3d a few years ago as an example), the part where he says that supplements can shut down your liver is utter bull spit. Now I’ve heard this before, so it’s not like I was shocked when he said that liver damage can occur. There are many people out there that believe high protein diets, excessive creatine, glutamine, and any other supplement consumed on a daily basis can do damage to the kidneys and liver. This is simply not true at all, and the people need to do research for themselves before they throw out these facts and misinform others. There have been many, many scientific studies done on these supplements and no commonly taken supplements have shown to have any direct correlation to liver and kidney damage.

Ignorance is a big thing when it comes to the health and fitness world. It’s always someone who hears something from a friend, who’s heard it from another guy, who misinterpreted what they read on one article on the internet. The truth of the matter is that many people who say that supplements are bad for you, often consume alcohol on a weekly basis, or take pain relievers such as ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) and are doing way more damage to their kidneys and liver than any supplement ever could. In fact, acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver damage and failure in the united states. Here is the study to back it up: Click here to read the article. Also, everyone knows that consuming alcohol in excess can lead to liver disease and failure as well. But you know what? People still pop pain killers every day, and go out and get completely wasted on the weekends. But then they criticize others for taking supplements that have no proof in causing any harmful side effects at all. How does that make any sense? I personally have taken highly beneficial supplements such as creatine, protein, BCAA’s, glutamine, multivitamins, and pre-workouts on a daily basis for years, and they have had no adverse affects to my health. Studies have shown that these supplements can give a boost when wanting to build muscle and strength or lose fat.

Okay, so you’ve convinced me that supplements aren’t as harmful as I thought, but isn’t food still better than taking all those powders?

food-vs-supplementsYes and No. Though you can build muscle without the aid of supplements and by consuming only food, it’s much harder to get adequate essential nutrients such as protein into diet by food alone. For example: it’s recommended for a normal person who wants to build muscle to consume anywhere from 0.8- 1.2 grams of protein per day for optimal muscle growth. For a person who weighs 200 pounds, eating a chicken breast, 3-5 times a day can be very hard, and protein powders often come in handy. Also there is creatine. One of the most heavily researched supplements that is often found in red meats. To get the benefits of creatine that studies have shown, you’d have to consume so much red meat on a daily basis to be able to get what you would in a single 5 gram scoop of powder.

Supplements are beneficial to helping people when it comes to wanting to build strength and size, preserving muscle, and increasing mental focus during workouts. Those variables can often give someone more of an edge vs someone who is not taking any supplements. Here is a list of my recommended supplements that are proven to be safe and are backed by tons of scientific research:

Supplements that you should give a try

Popular supplements that you should avoid

The bottom line is that supplements are just that. A supplement. You don’t necessarily need them, but if you have the money to shell out, a few of them will definitely help. The thing I often recommend to people is do their own homework (and do it well) on a supplement before they decide to add it into their diet. Just because many supplements are safe for consumption doesn’t mean all of them are. See you guys in the next article.


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John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

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