In a previous article, we explained what supplements are. But the real question that everyone wonders is: Are supplements harmful to our health?
Unfortunately I do not have the answer to this question but in this article I will try to help you to see more clearly.
I took supplements for 1 year: whey protein, BCAAs, glutamine, multivitamin pills and creatine (without knowing).
My wife, her family and my family were strongly opposed to the idea of me consuming such products. Every family reunion was a nightmare: ‘Stop taking that, you gonna screw with your health, it is dangerous …’ I can assure you that I had a hard time for a year.
Why did I start taking supplements?
During my first eight years of bodybuilding, I gained muscle mass exponentially but slowly. My family and my friends could see the evolution over the years.
At the beginning of 2013, I began to stagnate for several months despite adopting a new program. After a lot of readings saying that supplements could help you reaching the next step, I decided to take supplements.
At first, I was only drinking a whey protein shake after every workout. Then a few months later, I was taking a shake of BCAAs before training and a shake of whey after. Finally, I was consuming a whey protein shake in the morning, one after training and a shake of BCAA before.
Honestly, my performances were increasing each workout!
It has also contributed to my muscle recovery a lot. My workouts were pretty intense using drop sets techniques but I only needed a maximum of 48 hours to fully recover.
Be warned though! The way I say it may lead to think that supplements are magical!
But please, don’t think that they are miracle products! You must have a good diet and a good program in parallel to feel the positive effects.
Remember my previous article! Supplements are here to supplement your meals and not to replace them. Proper meals are very important for building muscles!
It is not a magic potion! Otherwise, it would be too easy.
Besides, you will notice that all people taking protein shakes are not physically massive! such as training, supplements are not enough to gain muscle, it’s a combination of everything!
Anyway, I continued to take these products for some time then I stopped in February 2014.
The first reason is that I couldn’t handle the pressure of my wife and my family anymore. They didn’t want me to take supplements because they were afraid for me and my health. I love my wife and my family and I respect them. So I preferred to listen to them rather than being selfish.
The second reason is that I was not digesting whey protein very well (I changed brand several time). I regularly had diarrhea and terrible stomach aches. Since I stopped, I don’t have any problem anymore.
The third reason and not the least, my wife discovered that one of the brands I used contained creatine (and it was supposed to be whey only). So I don’t trust what they can put inside. Creatine is legal but I have never been interested in that product.
And finally the last reason, because I hate being dependent on something.
Supplements Always Controversial
A form of doping
Supplements commercially sold are completely legal and are not considered as doping substances. However, most people think that taking supplements is very similar.
it is true that websites labeled ‘natural bodybuilding’, are very funny. I agree that those who take supplements are not ‘juicing’ but they are not totally ‘natural’ either.
Whoever takes NO products at all is a natural athlete, but he will never has the same body than someone using supplements, you can be sure of that.
We bring something to our body to help us to be stronger, recover faster or to have more muscle; it is a form of doping if you think about it.
In fact Google defines doping as ‘administer substances to (a racehorse, greyhound, or athlete) in order to inhibit or enhance sporting performance’.
But if we take this matter further, in that case, if you take coffee to give you energy before your workout, it is also a form of doping.
Millions of people take vitamins, green tea and others things to lose weight… but you can always have a strict diet without using any of these products!
Then we could say that somehow doping is not only affecting the sports and bodybuilding industry but all of us!
Today, people have to stop assimilating supplements to doping because in that case, the guy who takes a cup of coffee everyday to be awake is juicing!
The real problem is that you quickly become dependent on these supplements and you think that they are essentials.
I had very good results without taking supplements for 8 years. But I also have to admit that supplements helped me a lot.
Not a natural nutrient
Many people tend to say that whey protein is not a natural food because of its powder form. They also add that it is an unhealthy chemical process.
But in that case, anything you can eat is not natural and therefore dangerous to your health. For example dried milk is manufactured the same way than whey protein. Yet we find powdered milk in every store and my parents regularly take some in their coffee.
Do you think that your steak, your pizza, your vegetables are ‘natural’?
Let me laugh!
In industrialized countries, everything is processed to be stored. Our food is full of chemicals for different reasons exactly like supplements.
What you must remember is that we have never been able to prove that whey protein was unhealthy as we have never been able to prove that it was not.
I think the real debate is elsewhere. You are your own opponent to know whether you wanna take supplements or not. But I am gonna help you decide.
Take or Not take, That Is the Question!
There are several parameters that will influence your choice and I decided to keep only three.
- For the first parameter, we will go back to one of my first articles. You must know your goals.
I am not gonna lie to you. If you want to look like a model/bodybuilder from the magazines, you definitely have to take ‘supplements’ (at least). Same if you wanna be the strongest man of the world. Creatine and supplements will be a great ally to achieve your goals.
If you practice bodybuilding for you and not the others, if you exercise to feel good in your body and not to compete or be your job, then you won’t need to take supplements.
- The second parameter is your entourage. It will play a major role in your choice. Besides your goal, if your family does not want you take supplements, listen to them. They only mean well.
For example, you can take more olive oil, more fruits for vitamins, and more proteins – why not making your own protein shake right after your workout?
However, if you have really good friends, personal trainer and even parents encouraging you to take supplements (except steroids) to achieve your goals, why not? as I told you, I had excellent results with whey proteins. Actually I even take a shake of whey from time to time.
- The last parameter to consider is ethics. The values you have in sport are important. If you think that it’s like juicing or not good for your health, then do not take supplements.
On the other hand, if you think that it is not different than taking a can of redbull, just go for it!
The choice of taking supplements is entirely up to you. This is neither good nor bad!
You are the one making this decision in line with your goals, your entourage but also the values that you have in bodybuilding.
Supplements are far from being essential, but turn out to be an excellent ally to achieve your goals.