Whether athletes should be using sports supplement or not is a heavily debated topic. While some believe that it is safe and effective and enhances your physical performance, others believe that it isn’t practical to use and is just another scam to mint money out of the general public.
With such varying views, it can be challenging to determine whether you actually need sports supplements. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What Are Sports Supplements?
Sports supplements include a variety of products that are used to enhance athletic performance. These include protein powders, mega-dose vitamins and minerals, energy boosters, amino acids, creatine, weight loss aids, etc. More specific examples that you may recognize easily include 5-hour energy and Monster.
Are Sports Supplements Necessary?
Anyone who participates in sports or any type of physical activity wants to make the best use of it. They want to get the most out of their performance so that none of their efforts goes to waste. There is no doubt that pairing your workouts and sports with a balanced and healthy diet is the best way to perform at your optimal levels. However, sports supplements can also be helpful – provided that you do your research before including them in your fitness routine.
As discussed earlier, there are different types of sports supplements, and all of them are made differently. Therefore, whether a sports supplement is helpful or not entirely depends on the type o sports supplement you opt for.
1. Protein Powder
This is the most common and popular type of sports supplement that you may come across. Protein powder is mainly created for athletes and people who want to gain muscle mass through their workouts. However, it is much better to fulfil your protein requirement from your diet by eating protein-rich foods. You don’t necessarily need extra protein from supplements if you follow a healthy and balanced diet. Additionally, protein powder can be really expensive and doesn’t have any benefits over a healthy diet.
If you do choose to opt for protein powder, make sure to pick one that is actually good for you.
- Some proteins are digested quicker than others. Therefore, it is crucial to opt for a protein powder that has a mix of proteins sources. Look for ingredients such as whey (milk), casein (milk), and soy protein on the label.
- If you consume protein powder exclusively after an intense weight training session or endurances workouts, choose one which is made with only whey protein. This is absorbed more quickly and is good for repair your muscles.
- Make sure there are is no extra fat, artificial sweeteners, or added sugar in the protein powder.
Remember that more protein powder isn’t good for you. Take about 20 grams of protein powder right after your sports activity, and don’t add it to meals unnecessarily.
Creatine is a substance that is naturally created in our liver and kidneys. It is carried in the blood throughout the body to provide your muscles with energy. If you are regularly participating in high-intensity workouts and training, the creatine produced by your body may not be enough to keep up with your muscle activity. While you can find creatine in fish, meat, and poultry, creatine supplements have a higher dose than what can be obtained from your diet.
Creatine supplements are one of the best sports supplements you can consume. They have shown to improve the overall performance of people and athletes who participates in physical activities that require short bursts of energy. It is especially beneficial for people who participate in activities such as running, biking sprints, weight-lifting, strength-training, football, basketball, hockey, etc. However, it may not be beneficial for people who participate in endurance sports, such as long-distance running or swimming.
Currently, there are no known side effects of using creatine as long as it is taken within recommended amounts. However, similar to protein powder, there are no benefits of taking more creatine supplements than recommended. So follow the instructions provided with the supplement, and you will benefit from it in the long run.
3. Sports Bars
Sports bar are a good source of instant energy and can be helpful if you’re not feeling very energetic before a workout session. They can also help your muscles repair themselves afterwards. However, it is not recommended to depend on sports bar regularly. You can get the same benefits from following a balanced diet.
When you do opt for sports bars, make sure of the following:
- Look for natural ingredients on the label, such as whole grains, soy, casein, nuts, and dried fruits.
- Avoid sports bars that contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners such as sucralose.
- Avoids sports bars that contain trans fats. Labels don’t outright state that a product contains trans fats, so look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated words.
- Choose sports bars that contain at least 10 grams of protein per serving.
- If you’re eating a sports bar before working out or playing a sport, look for one that has lower fat and fibre.
Only opt for a sports bar when you’re in a pinch and need to fuel yourself in a hurry. Otherwise, try to fuel yourself by adding lots of protein and fibre-rich foods to your diet.
As you can see, whether a sports supplement is beneficial for you or not entirely depends on the type of sports supplement you pick as well as your requirements. Therefore, it is essential to work out your needs before deciding whether you need sports supplements or not. If you use them mindfully, they’ll surely provide you with various benefits.