The supplements market is booming. It’s forecast to be worth some $210.3 billion globally in the next few years — $35.5 billion in North America alone — as more people than ever take dietary enhancements for a variety of reasons. This may be to aid with current health issues, to safeguard against falling ill — and to give folk a boost in their workouts as they set their goals on making ever bigger gains in the gym.
But do you really need to take dietary supplements if you work out? Can you get sufficient nutrition to support your lifts, cardio, and everything else in your routine from a well-rounded diet? And is the enormous and growing range of supplements on the market — everything from whey protein to ginseng and BCAAs — just pretty much surplus to workout requirements? Let’s take a look.
How Good Is Your Diet?
Let’s face it: most of us don’t eat a proper diet, especially here in the US. We’d rather hit the local McD’s and get a quick and easy fix than cook up our own bountiful dishes of unprocessed food packed with all kinds of health-supporting vitamins and minerals.
Sure, there are some among us who stick rigidly to a clean and wholesome diet, making everything from scratch to ensure it’s the best they can get. But even these people have their down days and reach for a pizza, burger or something else that’s not particularly good for you — stuffed with carbs, the wrong kind of fats and precious little else.
This is where supplements come in. Ensuring you get key vitamins, minerals, and trace elements means you’re supporting your health as well as your workouts. So when you tear tiny muscle fibers as you lift and they start to repair, and you bulk up in the process, taking something like whey protein — which is more of a food than a supplement, but still a product you’re adding to your diet — gives you the essential amino acids and other substances your body needs in this phase of growth.
Not getting enough of these nutrients might mean you make little or no gains at all, as your body doesn’t get enough of what it needs to build new muscle tissue. And what’s the point in that?
Plugging the Nutritional Gap
So for everyone from serious gym-goers to hardcore workout warriors — and even those who never lift and barely do anything at all — taking supplements as a sort of plug for the nutritional gaps in your diet is definitely a good idea. They’re not going to do you any harm and are designed to keep you healthy and grow.
So how do you know what you should be taking? If there are personal trainers at the gym, have a word with them and ask them what they take. Or hit Google up.
You’ll most likely hear and read about things like the whey protein already mentioned — a superior kind of protein that will help you with muscle and other gains — that you can simply add to shakes or smoothies or put a few spoons in dishes you make for an added protein kick. Whey protein may also help with weight-loss goals, allowing you to shed the pounds and get ripped as you maintain your existing muscle mass and continue to bulk.
As whey protein powder comes from milk, you can opt for plant-based alternatives, if you’re vegan, such as hemp protein. You can also expand the range of supplements you take to support your workouts and include such popular ones as creatine, Vitamin D (especially for those of us who don’t get enough vital sunshine on our skin), beta-alanine and more.
Now you’re all set to totally rip it up with insane workouts that work.