Coastal Athletic Connection
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Supplements Part 2: Top 5 Things to think about before purchasing a supplement
You need this!!!!?????
You walk into a supplement store and see a wide array of colorful bottles with attention grabbing names that sound like horror movie monsters. After picking up the biggest bottle with the most Russian name, you take a look at the ingredients and wonder, “Since when did they start printing labels in Greek?” When you turn around, you are greeted by a smiling, nicely tanned, and super jacked worker (yes, male or female). They ask what your goals are and they then recommend the shiniest and newest bottle of supplement “X”, that will surely guarantee you the results you’ve always dreamed of. They look like they know what they are talking about (I mean they have veins popping out of their forehead!), so you buy whatever it is they are selling. You go home all excited that you are finally going see your long-lost abs and you can’t wait to hit the gym the next morning! Pretty soon the magic powder you were sold is all gone, with no hint of results, and you are left to wonder what to do next.
Sound familiar? If you’ve ever bought supplements at a store, this is most likely somewhat accurate of your experience. I have been through this, and I’ve too been suckered into buying supplements that sound cool, but in actuality, don’t really work. If you too have found this to be an issue, never fear, as I will provide you with the Top 5 Things to think about before purchasing a Supplement, along with 5 good and 5 bad supplements.
1: Can I get the benefits of this supplement from natural food?
If the supplement you’re wanting to buy is something that you are deficient in, in your diet, such as Zinc or Vitamin C, that’s great that you are looking after your overall health! However, if all you would need to do is eat an orange every day, or eat some more red meat to correct the deficiency, then why spend the extra cash on the supplements? When in doubt, eat natural food, as your body was designed to break down and absorb it, not the artificial pills made in some lab.
2: Do I really need the benefits of this supplement?
This one is pretty important and self-explanatory, but many people fall into the trap of listening to the supplement store guru’s advice: “Man, take this and you will have so much energy!” When is reality, this person already drinks 12 cups of coffee everyday and can’t sleep because of the buzz they are feeling. Or in a more athletic example, if you are a boxer who needs to slim down to make weight, or a football player who was told by his coach to trim some fat, why would you buy a mass gainer? You have to look at what the benefit of the supplement is, and think, “Will this help me in my life, or not?”
3: Does this supplement have research to support it?
This one most people do not think about, but it comes down to one question everyone wants to know: Does it work? While the sales guru will tell you all these amazing stories about how it worked for them and their buddies, the only real data that matters is science. The best resource for this is to visit Examine.com. They guys over there have one goal in mind, “Read the research, make sense of it, and put it online”. They basically do all the hard work for you, all you have to do is search your supplement and they will tell you what science has to say, it’s awesome!
4: Is the benefit of this supplement worth the money?
This one goes back to number 2 as well. If you have decided the supplement has a benefit that you want or need, you have to ask what you are willing to pay to see that benefit. If you want to lose weight, all you would have to do is spend less money on food, instead of spending more money on a fat burning supplement that doesn’t work anyway (more on that later). What it basically comes down to is doing a cost-benefit analysis. Instead of forking over cash to see quick results, spend some time really thinking about it first. I usually walk into a supplement store and pick out the thing I want, then place it back and leave. Sometimes I go back after thinking about it and buy the stuff, other times I don’t. Supplements are not something you want to impulsively buy, or go in unprepared about what to get because the sales guru will sniff that out and pounce. You would do a cost-benefit analysis when buying a car, or a home, so why not do one when purchasing something that can affect your physical body?
5: Will I actually take this?
This one is pretty simple. If you are going to spend the $69.99 on the magic pill, you better at least take it. I have been to a so many peoples homes where their cupboards are full of pills and vitamins (most of which actually work) and the bottles look like they haven’t been touched since Y2K. Listen, the only way you are going to know if the supplement works or not, is to take it. Now, if it is not working, or is having negative side effects, get rid of it! Don’t let it sit there like it’s a bottle of wine and will get better with age (because trust me, they don’t), get rid of it and move on!
So, please take all this information to heart (and head), and be a conscious consumer when it comes to supplements of any kind. Don’t just believe the hype, do some research, and be informed. Then, the next time you walk into your local supplement store and the tall, tanned, jacked guy/girl tries to sell you on product “X”, you can dodge their sales pitch and save yourself a few hundred dollars.
For more on the regulation of supplements and how to tell if they are clean and safe, read Supplements Part 1: Are they safe?
Also, stay tuned for the Top 5 Best and Worst supplements to purchase in Supplements Part 3…
- Andrew Heming, Supplementation for Athletics and Fitness. TWU Human Kinetics 420 Class Notes