Whey Protein, pre-workout, BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids), thermogenics. These are all common, and highly used supplements made by virtually every supplement company in the business now a days. Supplements have been around since the beginning of time. Man would use herbs, and animal glands as natural remedies to health problems, and secrets to gaining muscle, strength, or endurance. Supplements were not main streamed until the 1990’s however, when the government passed the DSHEA act which allowed the supplement companies to forgo FDA approval before sale. Many people are rightfully skeptical about the effects and claims of these supplements, but many of these supplements actually create a beneficial effect while working out, or trying to reach specific goals.
Since the FDA does not regulate what supplement companies can, or cannot say on the bottles, they can make false claims as to what benefits the products will bring. One of the most notorious examples of this is any supplement with a proprietary blend. A proprietary blend is a fancy way of listing ingredients under a mask, showing the ingredients in the product, but not the quantity of these ingredients. The problem with this is that the product could claim to have all of these beneficial things in it, which may be true, but they may have less than 1 mg in the product if masked properly. Another problem with this is when taking a supplement in a pill form, it gives the manufacturer complete discretion of how much rice flour they can mix with whatever is in the pill to make more money per less amount of working ingredients in the products.
Some supplements however, are true to what they say they do, generally whey protein (and any protein for that matter) does not have a proprietary blend and only claims to help with muscle growth and recovery. These claims are true, and are backed by scientific evidence. Many credible supplement companies now-a-days have their products tested in double-blind tests to prove the effects, or non-effects, of what they are selling. Some pre-workouts forgo a proprietary blend, and tell the consumer the exact amounts of each ingredient they have in the mix. This is what you want to look for if you are trying to buy a quality pre-workout, or BCAA complex for that matter.
All in all, supplements are just that: supplements. Nothing can ever replace a balanced nutritional diet. Consuming only supplements, and drinking only shakes of protein will not benefit you health wise, or athletically for that matter. The balancing of a healthy diet, and the responsible use of supplements can make the athlete do better, and feel like they are doing better psychologically. I would recommend always doing your research before buying any supplements, and make sure to avoid proprietary blends. Studies that back supplements are a good way of seeing credibility, and can allow the consumer to feel confident while buying the product. In the end, Supplements are a growing party of society, and with a healthy balanced diet, they can be beneficial to the striving athlete in their quest for greatness.
By Sean Van Horssen