I had an interesting conversation yesterday after training with a few guys at the gym. Whilst some of us were there mixing our post workout shakes in our branded shakers, a few guys questioned us on our need for them. Some stating “you should get your protein from real food” and others just saying how damn expensive supplements are!
Now, I was one of those in the protein shake camp who gulped down a strawberry flavoured post workout shake which I thought was quite yummy but it got me thinking. I was a bit of a slave to supplements early on in my training career, gulfing down as many pills and potions as I could afford expecting some miracle of epic proportions of performance enhancement to occur but I didn’t really feel that much different.
Lately, i’ve cut down on supplement use, mostly due to financial factors. I actually feel no difference during my workouts now than I did when I took expensive NOS pre workout stimulants (though I have a very potent workout stimulant and that’s my desire to be the best I can be!). Although I cannot deny that pre workout stimulants can help give you a buzz and I do have good experiences with them, it seems as though people now a days feel as though their workouts will be total failures without them. Many supplements on the market are not essential however, I will say that supplements do have their purposes.
As I stated earlier, I did have a post workout shake. I think if you’re going to have one protein based supplement in your workout armoury, at least have post workout shake. The reason is simple in my opinion. Firstly, after a gruelling workout, your body is screaming at you for nutrients. Your muscle glycogen will be depleted and if muscle gain is important to you then by not having something quickly, you could force your body into a catabolic state where you’ll lose muscle.
A post workout shake (A shake with high glycemic carbohydrates and fast absorbed protein along with any other goodies to aid recovery) is a quick and convenient hit! It’s not always convenient to have whole food in your gym bag and eat it right after a workout and that short window of opportunity to get your recovery nutrients in could have closed by the time you get home, get cleaned up and cook/prepare your meals. So in that instance, I would definitely recommend a post workout shake.
Supplements, as their name suggest, are there to supplement your diet. And frankly, it is hard to get all the nutrients we need especially with all the processed food around and nutrients in whole foods not being as potent as they once were if you make wise choices you can cut back on supplements and keep them to a minimum. A protein shake to top up your protein is OK as are essential fats (Udo’s oil is highly recommended) and a good multi vitamin too but if you’re training on a budget, don’t be fooled into thinking you need every supplement under the sun. Remember, supplement companies and the magazines (most of whom are actually owned by supplement companies) want you to be dependant on them and all the latest and greatest pills and potions out there but if you eat unprocessed whole foods, quality proteins and fats you can keep your supplement use down.
In conclusion, suppements do serve a good purpose. I highly recommend post workout shakes that are designed for such purpose as it cuts down your recovery time and helps you train harder sooner, and supplements to help you meet your daily requirements of proteins, vitamins and essential fats are good if you’re not getting them from whole food but there is also a lot of hype about supplements too and lots of fads and trends that are here today and gone tomorrow so be weary and do your research!