If I had a dollar every time I answered "What supplements should I be taking…?" I'd have zero dollars as I don't know, as I keep my body "supp-free". Yet we are keen consumers, as IBIS values the Australian vitamin and supplements industry at $1 billion, growing at a six per cent rate.
I scoured online and had a chat with FIT Nutrition in Sydney's CBD to try and figure out "What is all this stuff, and what should the average Joe and Jill at the gym be taking?"
Like food, supplements are as much at the mercy of trends and here's what at the top of the list amongst those who swallow the supplement message.
Creatine is naturally found within the body – 95 per cent of it is within muscles. A creatine supplement pushes water to your muscle cells so your muscles can receive more nutrients, so it helps with strength, bulk, and energy. Those that worry about that watery, bloated look that creatine might cause should complement its intake with clean carbohydrates.
Fat burners or pre-workouts
The theory goes, take pre-workout supplements (C4 is a popular brand) if you're looking to boost endurance and increase recovery between sets. Fat burners (such as Double Tap) contain Acetyl L-Carnitine, Choline Bitartrate, Green Tea and Dandelion Extract and claim to increase energy and metabolic rate while suppressing appetite.
Supplements like GutRight apparently help detox your gut system and reduce inflammation from all the toxins within food, stress, and alcohol. Their advice is use for 10 days with a complementing diet.
There are umpteen flavour options from four protein sources: whey (from dairy) natural (can be from dairy, but they use natural sugars like stevia), vegan (rice, pea, or hemp protein), and collagen (derived from bone, skins, and cartilage of animals) and whey. Vegans use rice, pea, or hemp protein. Protein assists in muscle growth and repairs damaged muscles and tissues.
Aka products that are supposed to help increase testosterone levels in the body. These supplements are a natural source (therefore not an illegal steroid) extracted from amino acids and herbs. ATP Alpha Mars is a popular product that costs $89 (120 capsules, take four per day).
Are branched-chain amino acids and claim to assist in muscle repair and recovery. BCAAs are a group of three essential amino acids - leucine, isoleucine and valine. The deal is, through supplements you absorb these amino acids without the calories and sugar.
Seventy per cent of Australians are overweight.
The "supplements starter kit to lose weight and get fit" recommended is: one month's supply of a fat loss product, BCAAs, and a protein source priced at about $180 ($6 per day).
So, should you take all these supplements?
Some see snake oil while others see it as a necessity for the daily gym routine. Yet do beware. In the USA alone, an estimated 23,000 emergency department visits each year are attributed to adverse events related to dietary supplements.
It's your health
No matter the risks, consumers love supplements. Allied Market Research predicts the global sports nutrition market to reach $44 billion by 2021.
My opinion is what I prescribe for my own body. The only supplement with guaranteed results, every time, without failure that's supported by science and fitness "experts" is supplementing couch time for exercise and sugary foods with real nutrition like vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. Supplement energy drinks with water and proper sleep. And supplement a protein bar loaded with sugar with Tasmanian salmon (200 grams contains 46 grams of protein).
But who am I? It's your dollars, your medicine cabinet, your body, and your choice.
Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his "Cut The BS" diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.
Do you buy the supplement promises? Share your experiences in the comments below.