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Should I take supplements?

The lack of inadequate sources of information around nutritional supplements and diet, often provided by gym trainers who are not formally trained in nutrition, can lead to inappropriate use of sports supplements. A study in Beirut, assessing the use of supplements in athletes vs. an adult population, showed that 80% of athletes obtain information from “questionable” sources including media, Internet, peers, coaches, and trainers. In the current study, apart form the fact that coaches had a financial interest in an ever-increasing range of supplements, advices provided by coaches and athletic trainers are usually inaccurate, inappropriate, or even potentially damaging.

Advertisements in magazines and Internet, also distort clinical studies and formulate misleading claims. In the contrary, consultation with medical professionals, including physicians and dieticians, is practiced to a lower extent in the sports environment. In the current study, 73.1% of exercisers had never received any guidance from a nutritionist.

It is very important to think of your body as a machine. Everybody wants to take supplements to perform the same as their peers. But think if your nutrition, carbohydrate intake, protein intake, fat intake and vitamin and mineral intake are perfect before taking anything additional. That is what supplements are, additional. The word itself suggests that it is something used to supplement your diet. Is everything else correct? Are you achieving optimal nutrition, fluid intake sleep and exercise? If so we can discuss about supplement consumption.

Why should I consult a nutritionist and not a person who is not trained in nutrition?

Nutritionists spend years training on the safety of supplements and especially if you visit a sports nutritionist, they know how to find the appropriate information suggesting if the product is safe to use or not. In many cases he supplement is not legal and/or safe. If the supplement is banned, the sports nutrition specialist should discourage its use. In addition, many supplements have not been studied for long-term safety but are being promoted as safe. A qualified sports nutritionist will be able to check if the product has been tested for side effect, long-term safety, and interactions with other medication.
Some supplements are safe but only if they are taken at a right dosage and for certain duration. Creatine for example, which is used to enhance performance, hydrate prior to exercise in the heat or increase muscle mass and promote faster recovery during high intensity exercise, has to be taken at a certain dosage. Any dosage above 20g/day has not benefit, as there is a saturation effect by the receptors taking up creatine.

Are you a responder to sports supplements?

I will use the example of creatine again as it is my area of expertise. I worked with creatine for many years and saw with my own eyes what is confirmed by the literature. The literature suggests that 20% of any population does not respond to creatine and therefore does not have any benefits from its supplementation. Many factors come to play when you take creatine i.e. if your muscle creatine is low, if you never took creatine before, if you are a vegetarian; all these play a role as to how your body will respond to creatine supplementation. The same goes for other supplements. Contact me if you would like to know more about nutritional supplements. Contact me if you are already a consumer and would like to know if what you are taking is safe or if it is working for your body. Contact me if you are planning to start taking a supplement and what to know what you should take.


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