Health & Fitness

Do Supplements Help?

Should I take Supplements?

Nutritional supplements are, in general; substances found naturally in foods, that have been isolated in order to optimise their effects. Among them, the best known are the amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. They are used by people with diseases caused by nutritional deficiencies (anemia, intestinal worms etc), phases that require larger amounts of a nutrient (pregnancy, aging) or by physically active people; improving their performance and acting in replacement of losses resulting from these activities.

Currently, the largest consumers of these supplements are those frequenting gyms, and athletes. Many supplements increase the efficiency of exercises, encourage the gain of muscle mass and fat loss and benefit almost all bodily functions, allowing better results. Most supplements exercise their functions very well if taken with the guidance of a qualified professional. When consumed in excess; rather than supporting muscle gain , they may increase fat mass, due to the consumption of calories beyond what is necessary (ie only those who train to use them). In the long term, they can cause complications in the kidneys and liver. In people who already have some disease, supplements may make it worse. It is so important to ask for nutritional counseling, if the intention is to optimise the effects of exercise.

Some types of supplements and their actions in the body are presented below:

Isotonic: Ensure that we have energy for aerobic and anaerobic activity, before training, and afterwards also serve to replace energy spent. Consisting of carbohydrates and minerals, they are quickly absorbed, and fast to hydrate.

Stockers Energy: Also very common, have a higher concentration of carbohydrates. Great for after training, but are suitable for longer activities like enduros, for the real athletes.

Amino Acids: These are part of the protein group and usually used with the promise of stimulating muscle growth, or to prevent degradation of the muscle. There are indications that these amino acids could influence the absorption of other amino acids, causing renal failure and tissue damage. Supplementation with amino acids for long periods has no proven benefit, and may also induce a frame of insulin resistance. There is therefore no evidence pointing to the use of amino acids as being beneficial to the athlete.

Protein Foods: compounds of protein of high biological value (which are better absorbed and utilized by the body) are useful to supplement the diet by entering protein, especially between meals. They are used in snacks, while the other available options are always rich in carbohydrates or fats, such as meats, cheeses and other products. If the person eats a good amount of protein, do not need this kind of supplement. The advantage is that it adds protein, low in fat.

Compensating Foods: Are supplements that have a high energy (calorie) content. These supplements are composed of carbohydrates and essential amino acids, ie amino acids that we do not produce in our bodies: Should be taken with caution, they are indicated for athletes who train several hours every day; athletes in marathons, triathlons and enduros in general that consume large amounts of energy.

Thermogenic Supplements: These help in increasing metabolism; therefore contribute to weight loss and body fat reduction.

Antioxidant Supplements: These help in eliminating free radicals in the body, that are generated in excess when we practice physical activities. Free radicals accelerate aging and are precursors of various diseases, such as cancer.

Hormone Supplements: Stimulate the production or supply of hormones to the body. These supplements are easily found in gyms today, despite rules that prohibit unauthorised trading. These supplements should only be taken with medical advice.

Multivitamin and Poliminerals: Reinstate micronutrient deficiencies and should also be taken only under medical supervision.


In summary; at the hour of ingesting supplements; you must be very careful and always follow the guidance of a physician or nutritionist.

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James Steele

James Steele

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