Sports supplements are big business these days. No longer the preserve of people with impossibly large muscles and back-breakingly difficult workout regimes, the industry has gone mainstream. Now casual shoppers can happen upon sporting products on the supermarket shelves and, as a result, the industry has blossomed into a multi-billion pound operation.
But not every product is as good for you as you’d hope. With the size of the industry, it’s sadly true that some of the products on the market don’t measure up to expectations. Here are the things that mark out the difference between the good and bad sports supplements:
If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. The bad sports supplements are those that make bold pronouncements about fat-burning potential or the ability to slim you down in the blink of an eye. This gets at the heart of what a sport supplement is. The clue, handily, is in the name. Supplements are there to top up your diet, adding to the food and drink you consume to give you the best balance of nutrients. They don’t replace food, they don’t have magical powers – they perform an important function for your body. Don’t take a product with bold promises seriously.
What are you actually buying? Never mind the daft name and overblown graphics, what precisely is in your product? If you can clearly see the ingredients and know that those are the exact ingredients you want to consume then you’re happy. Bodybuilding.com has highlighted some of the products that you really shouldn’t be taking. The NHS has also warned of the dangers of 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) – an illegal and dangerous supplement that can be found from non-UK suppliers.
Don’t let these put you off – just make sure you know what to avoid and to only buy the products that deliver what you’re after (more protein, for example). Luckily the industry has moved on since a 2004 study found 15 per cent of products to be contaminated.
Even among the products that make no bold promises and contain the right ingredients, it’s important not to get sucked into buying cheap, poor quality goods.
Personal trainer Claire McGrath feels this is an issue. She told the Irish Examiner: “It is very hard to know what is good. A lot of the proteins are really bad, they are cheap and they are badly monitored; so you may not get exactly what it says on the tub. You need to go for a good quality product that is regularly tested. You have to pay for good quality supplements; I would not recommend buying the cheap stuff at all.”
If you’re unsure then find out more about the people who make the product. Read up on the company and see what their ethos is. So, for example, log on to www.fysiqalnutrition.com, read its blog, check it out and see if you like it. Their views on the industry will be reflected in the product they produce.
You should also ask your friends or trainer for their recommendations, if the product has worked for them, it’ll work for you.