If you’ve walked into any pharmacy or retail store to explore the supplement section, you would be forgiven for feeling just a little bit intimidated. Chances are that you will feel confused by the array of products presented to you.
Understanding how supplements work and which ones to take can often be confusing when you are starting out, but understanding what you actually want to achieve – whether it be general health maintenance, weight loss or building muscle – is the first step in making supplements work for you.
How do supplements differ?
Supplementation is usually packed in the most efficient delivery method, and you will commonly find them in the form of tablets, capsules, powders, gels, liquids or even in the form of bars, and can be used to boost energy, to address any dietary shortfalls and can help you prepare and / or recover from exercise. Supplements can even be used, in the management of health related concerns.
Gareth Powell, National Training Manager at USN comments, “Supplements can be split up into two categories – maintenance and performance options. When trying to determine which category to use, I always suggest that people should first define what they are trying to achieve.”
Certain nutrients are difficult to obtain even in the context of a healthy diet and supplementing with them indefinitely may be necessary. This is called maintenance supplementation. For example, vitamins; minerals; botanicals; plant sterols and essential fatty acids.
Then there is performance supplementation, which most people will be familiar with. This involves taking specific nutrients, for a specific purpose, for a specific period of time, such as with snack replacements and protein options like a protein shake or protein bar.
Where should I start when considering supplements?
“You have to start by understanding your goal. Once you know where you are, and what you want to achieve, you can then decide which category of products will best meet your needs. Often, you may find that you will use a combination of the two with a good quality multi-nutrient (Men’s or Women’s Daily Pack) along with a post-workout protein like Whey Protein Plus,” says Powell.
“It is important to select supplements based on creating a foundation for good health, and from there, selecting products that either help athletic performance or support a physical goal. Following a healthy, well balanced or goal specific eating strategy that includes a variety of macronutrients from various sources, with regular exercise is critical for a balanced approach,” he adds.
Who should take supplements?
Almost anyone can benefit from using maintenance or performance supplementation, whether to improve health or to assist in achieving a physical goal.
Powell explains, “Over the years research has shown that nutrition plays an important role in preventing diseases, but more recently we have seen an increase in the research body around performance gains. With optimal nutrition, including dietary supplements, you are able to rewrite your life story with a happier ending.”
Reasons why individuals should look at using a nutritional supplements
- Irregular meal intake;
- Overcooking foods, or poor food selection;
- Normal aging related to digestive issues;
- A decline in soil diversity and quality (and consequent decline in nutrient density of foods);
- A decrease in diversity of plant species consumed along with longer transit times for food to reach us;
- An increase in exposure to food and environmental toxins;
- Overuse of antibiotics, birth control and other medications (damaging the gut and liver);
- An increase in chronic mental and physical stress levels;
- A decrease in sleep quality and duration;
- A reduced connection with nature and less time spent outdoors.
What are the general guidelines for supplement usage?
According to Powell, “A daily, top-of-the-line multivitamin is very beneficial to your general wellbeing, along with a quality Omega-3 supplement. There are no specific guidelines around age recommendations, but many health conscious consumers choose to make use of such products early on.”
Most maintenance supplementation (vitamins/ minerals) options could be considered from a relatively early age but should definitely be introduced around winter time when the risk of infection increases.
Performance supplements are generally used in acute, short-term periods of time. This is typically supported by a healthy, well balanced, nutrient dense eating plan and regular exercise to achieve a specific physical goal like weight control or muscle gain.
How will I know if supplements are really working?
It’s simple, says Powell, “Are you feeling better, achieving your results, or seeing reductions in the prevalence of health concerns – if so, your products are working. If not, you may need to revise the way you are approaching your strategy. Since supplementation forms a relatively small, but vital part of your diet, you will certainly have to review what you eat, the volumes consumed and the frequency of meals. No volume of supplementation can undo a poor diet, so nutritional corrections need to be made to improve the effects and results of any supplementation selected.”
The reality is that with performance supplementation, (for weight control or muscle gain), your success is not solely placed on your supplements of choice. It should be placed on your nutrition and exercise strategy, with supplements simply enhancing, improving and accelerating the rate at which you achieve those goals.
“Supplements have various functions, but in essence, well developed supplements have been designed to help regain health, improve performance or to assist with recovery,” concludes Powell.
About Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN)
USNis a comprehensive and healthy lifestyle nutrition supplement brand. We pride ourselves in being a trusted sports supplement brand with a passion to offer superior products by demanding the absolute highest standard at all times.
Our formulations are based on the latest scientific global research and findings. We develop and provide a wide spectrum of products covering various categories based on physical goals and needs. And, our universal commitment to quality, safety and efficacy, as well as our careful selection of internationally approved, specialist vendors ensures that the USN brand guarantees consistency and superiority to a standard unrivalled in the industry.
USN products are available at independent and speciality retail stores, gyms, major national and international FMCG group stores and pharmacies, as well as a global presence in over 43 countries on three continents. For more information visit www.usn.co.zaor follow USN on Facebook and Twitter