When you’re on a mission to get fitter, every day is a new challenge. Every time you get up, you want to be sure you’re doing better than yesterday. It may sound difficult, but it really is possible to keep improving if you get your routine right.
It might start with making sure you eat properly through the day so you have the right balance of nutrients and sticking to your exercise regimen even when it’s hard, but there are other ways you can give yourself a boost.
One of those ways is through supplements. These can be used to increase energy, build muscle mass and generally improve your performance. Sometimes, however, snake oil salesmen offer you products that have no scientific basis and may even be harmful if you take them too often.
The first and most important thing to remember is that dietary supplements cannot be used as a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet. It’s in the name. They’re supplemental to the protein, carbs, fruit and vegetables that you need to survive. What supplements can do is give you a little something extra, especially if you have a deficiency in a particular nutrient or hormone. For example, many people use vitamin supplements to give themselves a boost.
Performance supplements are particularly popular among parts of the athletic and body-building communities, where the constant push to improve is an even more intense pressure. They’re generally available as powders that can be added to drinks as well as tablets, gels, capsules and injections.
The kind of supplement you want may vary depending on your chosen sport. Weightlifters need muscle, but long-distance runners need endurance and sprinters need energy. There may also be differences depending on age and sex. If you have injuries, disabilities or other health conditions, you may also need to be more careful about any supplements you take. Research into these kinds of supplements does tend to focus on healthy young men, who are thought to be the people who take them most.
For bodybuilders, increasing muscle is a key aspect of improving their performance. As protein is the nutrient you need to build muscle, that may form the basis of the shakes or other supplements that they take either before, during or after exercise. These are fairly easy to buy over the counter.
On the other hand, supplements that claim to burn fat and help you lose weight can be particularly risky. There’s also a danger when buying online – especially from other countries that may not have the safety regulations that we do – that suppliers may add dangerous ingredients because it’s cheaper and easier, despite the risk to humans.
In general, you should be able to get everything you need to maximize your daily performance from your diet. If you do choose to try supplements, make sure you do your research first. Always buy from a trusted seller, follow any dosage instructions, and talk to your doctor, dietician, coach or trainer if you have any doubt.