Monday, July 21, 2008

Supplements: Magic Bullet or Major Waste?

This morning I was making my way through my huge Monday monday morning stack of emails, sorting through questions from clients, and deleting the usual batch of viagra spam, and I came across a weekly flyer for an on-line supplements company that I've used in the past.

It reminded me of one of the most common questions I get asked...

What supplements do you recommend for the Go Sleeveless Program?

Well, that's kind of a loaded question, but let me tell you this...

When I was 16 and just starting to hit the gym and lift weights (and new absolutely NOTHING about anything) I used to walk by the supplements store in the mall in awe. This place was stacked full of 10 pound laundry tub sized buckets of protein and things with labels like "Obscenely Massive Hippopotamus Mass Gainer 8000" and "Ultra shredded lean cutz fat blaster XXL" (not real names of products - but not much of a stretch either).

I remember thinking to myself, "All I need is to save up a little money, get the biggest tub of that Rhino protein, and I'll be the biggest baddest dude in high school".

Man was I wrong.

Years later, and literally thousands of wasted dollars flushed down the drain I came to realize that 99.99% of the crap sold in these stores is just that...crap.

There is no magic bullet when it comes to getting in shape. If it were as simple as popping the right pill, or choking down the right powder two or ten times a day, then everyone would be in great shape.

The sad reality is, most of the stuff on the shelves of these places is absolutely worthless. Because supplements are sold as 'supplements to your healthy diet' they don't HAVE to do anything. They bypass the FDA regulations as they are not promoted as Food or Drug.

Have a look at the fine print on any supplement advertisement or bottle, and you'll find a little blurb about "These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA blah blah blah..."

And just because they don't work, doesn't mean they won't also HARM you. I can think of countless times over the course of my career when supplements have been pulled from the shelves because they were found to be harmful AFTER they had been in wide spread use for a lengthy period of time. Most recently it has been fat loss products containing the potentially deadly ephedrine, and steroid like prohormones such as Androstendione and the toxic Methyl 1-Testosterone.

The latter is actually a full blown steroid that was being sold in supplement stores! They got away with this simply because it was so new to the market that it hadn't been scrutinized by the FDA and classified as such yet. Of course once the government caught on it was pulled immediately, but not before thousand upon thousands of teenage kids had gotten their hands on this extremely harmful steroid and caused some potentially irreversible damage.

Proper nutrition, and exercise is the ONLY way to get the body you want, and no amount of supplementation will even make a dent in your progress until you have this down.

Once you have your diet dialed in to at least 90% clean and your exercise program has progressed well and you have been steady and unwavering for at least the past 6 months, then there are a few supplements that can be helpful to give you that little extra boost.

Until then, spend your money on home exercise equipment and healthy food - that will get you light years further then an overpriced jug of Mammoth 2500.

Yours in health,