Today, I wanna talk about a very controversial topic in the world of bodybuilding. Supplements are often a source of debate and disagreement within our community.
I must admit that I have struggled to have a clear idea of the real danger of these substances. Some personal trainers will tell you that they are using supplements for years without having any problems while others will tell you that you will die before you reach 40 if you touch any of these products (I am exaggerating a little bit)!
This article is not intended to promote supplements but I’m not there to play devil’s advocate either.
In this first article, I’ll just explain what supplements are, why people are taking them and finally when do you have to take them. In a second article that I will publish later, I will talk about the real disputable subject: Are food supplements good or not good for our health?
One last thing; by supplements I mean all LEGAL products that you can find in shops or online. I emphasize the word legal.
For those who didn’t understand I am referring to steroids, banned substances for sale, which will be the subject of another article.
Dietary Supplements: What is it?
As Anses.fr website highlights, the concept of food supplements is relatively new (2006). The website also gives us a very good definition that is actually taken from a Decree defined by the European Parliament: “Food supplements means foodstuffs, the purpose of which is to supplement the normal diet and which are concentrated sources of nutrients or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect, alone or in combination…”
In fact, supplements are not only applicable to bodybuilding. They are part of everyday life of millions of people who use them for different reasons: weight loss, deficiency…
You will therefore understand that there are several types of supplements, each with its own characteristic to bring something to your body. For example, there are pills to give you vitamins, tablets to help you lose weight, energy drinks….
In bodybuilding, these supplements are here to help you achieve your goals. It does not replace your meals but ‘complete’ them especially to get more proteins, more energy etc…
The most famous supplements in bodybuilding remain the protein powders (including whey protein, but not only this one) or creatine.
Dietary Supplements Why?
By the word ‘supplement’ you should understand the verb complete. Indeed, supplements are there to support a healthy and balanced diet.
A lot of people take supplements to compensate for deficiencies they may suffer. For example, we do not find all kinds of vitamins and minerals in a single food. And you would agree that it is quite complicated to eat well enough to cover all the nutrients our body needs.
Therefore supplements are emerging to fill those holes in your diet.
As you are aware now, your workout will destroy your muscle fibers. You need to provide nutrients to rebuild those fibers and especially by bringing proteins in your diet.
The ideal is to give your muscles those nutrients within the hour following your workout. You must admit that it is kinda difficult to take and cook a steak with you. However, these powder form supplements are easily
transportable in your gym bag. You add some water et voilà!
You probably have seen many people drinking their shake after their workout. Most of the time it will be whey protein but sometimes it can be creatine as well.
Whey protein and protein powders in general (soy protein for those allergic to lactose) have the ability to help you build muscles. For creatine, it will give you a hand to recover faster after an intense workout.
There are many other types of supplements such as BCAAs, multivitamin pills, glutamine … This article is not here to talk about all of them but to give you a brief overview of supplements and why they are so used.
If you want more information, I invite you to read other websites with very good content on the subject.
In fact, everything will depend on the type of supplement you will take.
Vitamins and minerals are usually advised in the morning to bring you all the energy needed for the day.
We have seen that it’s ideal to take whey protein after training, if possible within 1 hour. It is the same with creatine that will be more effective in post-training.
As each dietary supplement will have a different impact on your body, you will have to take them during key times of the day: BCAAs before training, multivitamin pills in the morning…
Again, I invite you to visit websites related to the subject. Some of them are very knowledgeable.
Note: You can totally take whey protein in the morning or at 10h to get your daily protein intake to reach the figure of 1.6g to 2g of proteins per body weight per day.
There are many types of dietary supplements with more or less different effects on your metabolism. However, they all have in common to supplement your nutrition in order to fulfill your deficiencies or to help you recover.
Knowing if supplements are good for your health is another subject I’d happy to talk about in a future article.