Do You Need To Take Supplements To Build Muscle?

Welcome back to another fitness myth-busting blog post. What a fantastic weekend of sun and fun. I hope you’ve been enjoying it as much as I have! Let’s quickly dive right into our fitness myth for today and answer a common question regarding whether or not you really need to take supplements to build muscle.

This myth is somewhat related to the sports drink myth mentioned last week. Health and fitness supplements are a multi-billion industry based on convincing you that there are magic pills, powders, and potions you must be taking if you want an “X” result. Insert “build muscle”, “fat loss”, “bikini body”, “toned abs”, “shredded muscles”, “Energy”, “Higher Testosterone”, etc.

These supplements take every form under the sun and include: vitamins, minerals, protein powders, meal replacements, and boosters (metabolic, brain function, energy, sex drive, etc.)

Do you need supplements to build muscle and be healthy?

While there are always exceptions to the rule, I believe that for the vast majority of people (>90%) supplementation is at best a waste of money. And in some situations can have a negative impact on your health.

When we eat a healthy diet of REAL, whole foods, we should be able to get all of the nutrients our body needs.

Yes, I’m fully aware that there are times, situations, and circumstances when this does not apply. For example, with certain medical conditions, or as a short-term recovery from a medication side-effect, supplements may be necessary and extremely helpful.

Alternately, elite athletes who train at high intensities for multiple hours per day for most of the year are another group that can benefit from supplementation. However, the average person who “hits the gym” a few days per week or is a recreational athlete rarely requires supplements.

In the developed world we have access to great quality food. Those who have the means to purchase pricey supplements are better off spending that money on higher-quality food rather than trying to supplement their low-quality food choices.

In our Fuel Your Body For Success workshop, you will learn the difference between real food and food type products, calorie counting, portion sizing, metabolic typing, and creating a meal plan customized to your lifestyle.

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Additionally, most of the reason people take supplements is behavioral and lifestyle based

We commonly see people who are “too busy” to buy or cook their own food, or who choose low-quality food for its convenience. They will then purchase expensive supplements (i.e. protein powder, meal replacements, vitamins, etc.) in an attempt to make up for this nutritional shortfall.

This is a poor option to try to improve your health. The quality and utility of supplements can vary dramatically. In many cases, there is little to no quality control, regulatory oversight, or scientific evidence that these supplements make a positive impact on health or performance.

Even the best manufacturers who use high-quality ingredients end up highly processing these whole foods into powders or extracts of one specific substance contained in the larger food item.

This is a reductionist philosophy that believes specific individual elements are all the body needs. The problem with this approach is that there are hundreds of known (and many more unknown) components in even simple foods (such as an apple). We simply don’t understand all the nuanced interactions of these components in food, and what role they may play in our health.

For this reason, I believe it’s beneficial to eat as much whole, natural food as possible, and use supplements sparingly as their name implies

They are a supplement to a healthy eating plan. They are not a way to make up for neglecting your body.

I encourage you to think closely about the way you are approaching sports drinks and supplements. Are they being used as a blanket crutch for an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, or utilized strategically for certain activities and circumstances?

As you are reflecting on this, if you feel that some help in sorting out the details would benefit you, please reach out and book your FREE Success Coaching Session with FRESH! My team and I would love to help!

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