Are Supplements Worth Buying?
The short answer is that many of the commercial supplements do not work. Here is the long answer.
Many people and websites will tell you that maintaining a healthy diet, sleep schedule, and exercise regimen is all you need to do to stay fit and healthy. And that alone is quite true and has a lot of science backing it up. However, these people and websites also tell you that you should be taking any variety of supplements while doing all of those other things to see the best results. And unfortunately, that is just not simply not true.
In fact, research and studies conducted recently have shown that these supplements may actually hinder your fitness results instead of boosting them as they are advertised to do. Have you ever seen advertisements for supplements such as Hydroxycut? How about Xenadrine?
The U.S. government conducted an enormous study into diet supplements and found that those brand-name supplements (and others) are responsible for roughly 20,000 visits to the hospital.
And these weren’t minor incidents, these were trips straight to the emergency room. This is serious business and the government is treating it as such. Back in 2015, the U.S. Justice Department slapped the makers of these supplements with criminal and civil lawsuits.
Now, this isn’t to say that some supplements aren’t actually beneficial to your health.
In fact, there are a handful that can give your fitness plans a well-needed boost. Let’s take a look at some of the good and some of the bad as it pertains to diet supplements.
A favorite of those who do a lot of strength training and one of the most popular supplements in the market. Protein powder actually falls under the bad list despite the fact that protein is a very beneficial nutrient that you should be consuming frequently. Why is protein powder bad then?
Well, you see, most of our diets are already rich in protein. We eat all kinds of foods that give us all the protein we need (and in some cases, more than we need). Foods like fish, beans, nuts, and meat fill us up with muscle-building protein. Our protein-rich diets make supplements like protein powder useless and a waste of money.
Not to mention that it has been alleged that certain manufacturers of protein powder pack their products with inexpensive filler ingredients. Stop pouring your hard-earned money into this stuff. You don’t need it.
This is something that baffles me as to why it was trending in the supplement market in the first place. Homeopathy involves breaking down various types of medicines to immeasurable sizes and then taking them.
Proponents of homeopathy believe that the smaller the dosage, the more effective the medicine is. Proponents also believe that homeopathic supplements can help rid you of the common cold, among other more miraculous unproven claims. Yup, none of their claims have been proven by hard scientific evidence.
In fact, all of the legitimate studies done into homeopathic treatments have shown the opposite – they are ineffective. One study pitted a group who used the homeopathic treatments against a control group who took placebos and the results were pretty much the same. Don’t fall for this scam.
Commercial exercise “boosters”
You may have heard of supplements like Jack3d and OxyElite Pro. These were advertised as supplements you can take to maximize your workout. More specifically, the creators of these supplements have asserted that DMAA, which is the active ingredient in both supplements, gives you a huge boost in power, stamina, and agility.
Sadly, that is not the case and the lesson was learned in a tragic way. Both supplements (along with other exercise “boosters”) went under major fire five years ago when 2 soldiers died after consuming the Jack3d supplement. This prompted the U.S. Defense Department to purge Jack3d and supplements similar to it from the shops around army bases.
Just this past year, USPlabs, the creators of OxyElite Pro, were taken to court. Why? Because it came out that OxyElite Pro actually had been composed of inexpensive synthetic ingredients from China. That directly goes against the maker’s claim that the product was composed of natural ingredients. Blatant false advertising. The plaintiffs also alleged that the supplement resulted in some users experiencing liver damage and one user even died from using the product.
Obviously, avoid this stuff.
Finally, a supplement that can be put in the ‘good’ category. Countless studies have been conducted that have shown that zinc is very beneficial for the body. Unlike protein, foods high in zinc aren’t all that common in the American diet (the exception being beef). Among the benefits found was being able to disrupt the multiplication of rhinoviruses that induce the common cold.
An interesting set of studies reviewed five years ago showed that people who took zinc dealt with cold symptoms for a shorter period of time and the symptoms were far less severe than those who took placebos. Consider zinc green-lighted for your consumption.
Unfortunately, we’re back on the ‘bad’ side. I’m sure that you have seen at least one commercial in your life advertising a miracle weight loss pill. With obesity being such a big problem in the United States, it’s easy to see why these companies make such a killing by claiming that their product will help you lose weight with no strings attached.
They say you don’t need to change your diet. They say you don’t need to exercise more. When a product makes ludicrous claims like that, it should be a major red flag.
One of the most well-known weight loss pills out there is Hydroxycut, and it has a really shady history. It used to contain an ingredient called ephedra, which led to almost 200 deaths and was subsequently banned by the FDA 13 years ago. After that debacle, the makers of Hydroxycut shifted their ingredients to caffeine and extracts from wild mint, wild olive, cumin, and lady’s mantle.
Obviously, caffeine is the main ingredient and is responsible for most of the “instant” weight loss that you may experience by using Hydroxycut. It has been scientifically proven that caffeine can help you lose a little bit of weight in the short-term, but no studies have shown caffeine to be an effective fat killer in the long term.
Switch to a healthier diet and work out more, you’ll see real long-term weight loss.
I’m going to end this list on a high note with another entry to the ‘good’ category. A certain chemical contained in green tea known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has been found to have some very interesting benefits. Mayo Clinic conducted a set of studies into this virtually unknown substance and drew a connection between consumption of EGCG and a reduction in the amount of cancer cells in sufferers of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
This is a very specific benefit and no extensive studies have been done to see how EGCG effects other kinds of cancers. You can consume EGCG by drinking green tea or by eating specific yogurts that have EGCG in it. You can also find EGCG pills at certain retailers. If I were you, I’d try it out – it can’t hurt.
Should Stop Wasting Money on Poor Diet Supplements?
As you can see, the supplement market is a mixed bag. There will always be companies trying to make a quick buck by releasing an ineffective product as the next miracle weight loss supplement.
As long as FDA regulations stay this lax, anyways. However, even with all of the bad things roaming about in the supplement market, that should not deter you from trying to find truly beneficial supplements to add to your diet.
Supplements like zinc and EGCG can prove to be very beneficial in the long run. Just make sure not to impulse buy and do your due diligence before making any purchase.