Many of us take supplements in our everyday lives to support our body’s natural function. However, supplements within the fitness industry have something of a cult following, with a new booster, burner, or other formulation hitting the shelves almost every week.
It’s not hard to see why so many people choose to use fitness supplements either, because they promise big changes with minimal effort. Which to any of us in this busy modern world can be highly appealing. They also tend to be marketed very aggressively.
Unfortunately, the striking designs used on the packaging of such fitness-specific supplements belie the fact that you may not be getting what you expect inside. Indeed, there are particular issues within the fitness-specific supplement industry that include unverified claims, dangerous ingredients, and an increased likelihood of health risks from prolonged use. Some users have even experienced horrific side effects including addiction, liver damage, and in one unfortunate case blindness.
Indeed the truth of the matter is that regulation of the fitness supplements industry is not as stringent as it is for food or medicines, which means they can end up at best being effective and at worst, harmful to the user. In the US the onus is on the FDA to prove they are harmful, and they have to do this before a fitness supplement can be removed from the market!
The good news is you can read all about this issue in more depth below, and discover what the most popular fitness supplements currently are as well as their potential dangers, and how to adjust your diet to provide you with all the nutrients you need.
Protein is an important nutrient when it comes to fitness. This is because it plays a major role in supporting both strength and stamina and building larger lean muscles. Consuming protein can also help us to feel full and so reduce our consumption of other less nutritionally dense foods, and in some cases aid with weight loss.
However, getting your protein from supplements rather than your diet from food such as meat, dairy, tofu, and beans can be problematic. This is because too much protein (anything over 0.8 g per KG of body weight) is linked to a whole host of health problems such as developing osteoporosis, kidney disease, and an increased risk of dehydration. The latter conditions occur because your kidney will have to work harder to process the excess protein, and the more protein we have in our system the more nitrogen is also present, which means a greater risk of getting dehydrated.
Indeed, as you will see from the information below, many of these types of fitness supplements have been associated with causing harm to the kidneys. Of course, this type of damage should be avoided at all costs, primarily by taking in your nutrients via food and the right diet.
Although, it is also worth noting that it may be possible to support kidney function with herbal supplements. Indeed, many people are finding that they can improve kidney health with herbs like Usnea and Uva Ursi. Both of which may be of help in this type of situation.
Science has shown that amino acids are vital when looking to build muscles and increase strength. This is because they have an important role in regulating the equilibrium between growth and shrinkage of muscle in the body.
Indeed, it is based on this thinking that the popularity of amino acids as a fitness-specific supplement has taken off in recent times. However, in larger quantities, amino acids have been shown to be problematic for the body causing issues such as dehydration and blocking enough energy getting to your muscles to be able for them to work effectively.
Once again, when it comes to getting enough amino acids, a balanced and varied diet is usually sufficient. In particular, food items such as mushrooms, fish, beans, quinoa, and legumes are all great (and tasty) sources of amino acids, and eating them regularly will take in enough to improve your fitness and maintain your body’s overall health.
Weight Loss Supplements
Another of the most popular fitness-specific supplements on the market are the products designed to aid weight loss. They claim to do this by offering two main benefits, boosting metabolism so your body burns calories faster, and by suppressing appetite, so you eat less. Both of which on paper would appear to make achieving the calorie deficit needed to lose weight a great deal easier.
However, one of the biggest problems with not just weight loss supplements, but all kinds of fitness supplements is that the market is not regulated as strictly as it should be. This means at best claims often go untested, while at worst supplements can contain ingredients dangerous to users’ health.
Unfortunately, this has been a particular issue when it comes to weight loss supplements with many being found to contain a compound known as Beta-Methylphenethylamine which is similar to and poses risks akin to amphetamines.
Unlike the other supplements mentioned in this post, steroids can never legally be used to enhance fitness performance. Instead, steroids can only be prescribed for a range of health conditions such as COPD, hives, Lupus, and MS.
Sadly, this does not seem to have stopped the black market sale of steroids to those looking to boost stamina, muscle growth, and performance in the gym. Unfortunately, those choosing to illegally use steroids to boost their gym performance run the risk of a whole host of problems, including attracting the attention of the law.
Then all the awful health side effects using steroids can cause, such as hormone issues (increased hair in women, and increased breast tissue mass in men), acne, liver problems, and issues with blood pressure. Some users even report an unwelcome emotional state known as Roid Rage which is attributed to the increase in testosterone that the body produces when using steroids.
The funny thing is that there are safe and delicious foods to eat that can help your body safely increase its production of testosterone. In particular, eating food like shellfish and tuna is a good idea, as well as beef, eggs, and low-fat dairy products like milk.
Right now, within the fitness community, creatine supplements are also highly popular. They have gained such a following because creatine is the primary source of energy the body uses to lift weights. Therefore by consuming this supplement, many people report being able to lift more and see better gains.
However, once again, taking on additional creatine in the form of supplements may not be necessary. This is because the body generates its own. Also, the efficacy of creatine has not been scientifically proven, while some studies suggested it could be linked to kidney disease if used in high enough amounts.
With that in mind, making sure you eat a diet rich in meat and fish, which will allow your body to generate its own supply of creatine may be the best approach.
In summary, while fitness-specific supplements are popular, the evidence for their efficacy is still largely unknown. Some kinds even present the problem of over or misuse, which can also cause serious health issues and endanger fitness over the long term.
To that end, those looking to enhance their fitness performance are much better off, examining and shifting their diet to be more balanced and wide-ranged. Thereby getting their nutrients from food, rather than taking them in supplement form.
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