Saturday, April 4, 2009

Performance Supplements – Do I need them?

Supplements… now that is a common word thanks to our gym trainers, nutritionists, fitness freaks and of course media! Are they good for you? Do you need them? The answer, ironically is as straight as a curve!

This is one issue where if there are ten people, they will have thousand opinions – some due to selfish motives and some due to half-knowledge about the advantages / dis-advantages of these items.

Supplements have been used since ages to provide nutrients which are missing or not consumed adequately in a person’s diet. These nutrients come in the form of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids which are usually consumed over and above the regular diet. These micro-nutrients help the body to perform at optimum levels and thereby improve the quality of life.
However, over the past few decades, thanks to the spotlight on body-building and body-image, a new form of supplements have emerged as a favourite option amongst many fitness enthusiasts.

Yes, we are talking about the performance supplements – the most popular being the Protein supplements which are quite commonly consumed these days even without an expert guidance.

Proteins have their basic function as building blocks of our body and are found in every part of the human body right from cells to hormones. Inadequate amounts of protein in the diet means that the body uses up stored reserves of protein, which are usually the muscles for their basic function, and as such this defeats the purpose.
Resistance training targets individual muscles and causes microtrauma (micro wear and tears) of the muscle fibers, and hence increases the need for proteins to heal the microtrauma through building newer tissues. Hence, usually the need of Proteins is emphasized if you are into weight training, and especially so if you are a man!

However, when this becomes an issue is when people abuse the supplements, use it as a fad, especially without expert advise. It has been proven time and time again, that a diet can be made rich in protein and that alone can suffice the need for proteins in the body without any need for supplements.
It is only in extreme cases and some medical cases, that one needs to use supplements since they come with their own set of side-effects and problems.

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