Craig Silkens, sports massage therapist and personal trainer at M Club, says people should think carefully before taking protein powders and fitness supplements.
“I am often asked which is the best protein powder and which supplements people should be taking. I have a degree in sport and exercise nutrition, which puts me in a good position to answer those questions.”
Dietary supplements have become a global multi-billion-pound industry. Some people believe they need supplements in order to achieve their fitness goals.
The truth is, a well-balanced and thought out diet will help each individual reach their goals, alongside programmed training.
So when people ask me about protein powders and supplements I respond by asking them what their current diet is like. People can supplement all they like but if their diet is poor then they will struggle to achieve their goals.
It is important to remember the meaning of the word supplement. A supplement is added to something else in order to complete or enhance it.
So the first measure is to ensure the diet is as complete as possible with regards to a well-balanced quantity of macro nutrients and a complete vitamin and mineral profile. From there an assessment can be made as to whether this person actually needs to supplement with anything.
Generally speaking those that are trying to lose weight do not need to supplement as these people often have a lot of fruit and vegetables in their diet and are aware of how many of the macro nutrients they should be consuming.
It is usually sports people or those trying to gain weight who need added nutrition in their diet, simply out of convenience more than anything.
Preparing several meals a day to help with increased muscle mass takes a lot of time, so too does eating it all.
Protein shakes are the common and preferred convenience to get the extra calories quickly and easily. So which is the best one? They’re generally all as good as each other but remember one thing, the human body can only metabolise around 20 grams of protein in one sitting.
When a brand boasts about having 25, 30 or even 40 grams of protein in each of their servings, most of this will simply be excreted from the body because the liver and kidneys do not want the strain of dealing with that amount of protein in one sitting.
Diabetics should be extremely cautious of excessive protein as it can lead to serious illness.
Multivitamins are another common supplement and with regular reports of nutritional value being washed away from farming processes and then cooked off as well, we’re led to believe that there just isn’t much nutritional value left in our broccoli.
I personally don’t believe this because if we plan and prepare our meals we should get more than our daily quota of vitamins and minerals.
However, when training extremely hard and sweating profusely I do believe that supplementing with a daily multi vitamin could be beneficial as sweating carries vitamins and minerals out of the body.
With thousands of different dietary supplements on the market it is an overwhelming topic, so if you are considering supplementing your diet then consult a higher level fitness professional, dietician or a nutritionist.
Do also ask yourself whether your current diet and health/fitness goals need a dietary supplement.