How important is supplementation to your success in either gaining weight or losing weight? This question has been around for a very long time.
The most common reason for using supplements is not being able to get either the macronutrients and/or micronutrients from everyday food. How often have you heard that it is near to impossible to get the needed amount of protein from regular food? Well, I suppose if you are consuming 300 plus grams of protein a day; that would be a lot of chicken breast and tuna.
The fundamental and simple question is whether you need all those supplements to build muscle or lose fat. If you believe yes, then the answer is simple. And again, if you believe no, then the answer is also simple. But as in all things, it is never quite that simple.
Protein is an interesting subject. Do you need a gram per pound of body weight? If a gram is good, why not consume two grams per pound of body weight? What scientific, peer-reviewed study determined that one gram of protein per pound of body weight is the best ratio for building muscle? Not to impugn some of the great bodybuilders but some of them are associated with magazines and companies that promote and sell protein powders.
Does that make their support of protein supplements suspect; no, not necessarily.
But it should make you wonder why on the one hand you have those that claim you need lots of protein and organizations like the Mayo Clinic that put the number around 70 grams per day. Where did they get that number?
Do we need 1000mg of Vitamin C a day? Do we need a horse pill size dose of all the alphabet soup vitamins every day?
First and foremost, I have no answers other than what I read and from my very, very limited experience. I am no guru and certainly am not studied in these areas. I do know this – eating a well balance diet consisting of a rainbow of fruits and veggies coupled with whole grains and meats is good for you. Complex carbohydrates like pasta, rice, and potatoes should form the backbone of your caloric intake.
If you feel you must increase your protein levels, then drink more milk. You can eat a handful of nuts throughout the day, or mix granola with yogurt, or drink a couple more glasses of milk a day. Eggs, chicken, tuna, and pork all represent inexpensive sources of great protein.
One chicken breast, a can of tuna, a quart of milk, two eggs, one cup of yogurt, and a mix cup of peanuts/almonds will provide you around 154 grams of protein. And that does not even include the protein in your complex carbohydrates, your grains, fruits and veggies. So, do you need additional protein supplements?
When you are consuming a wide array of foods, again, do you need a separate multi-vitamin pill? If you are not confident that you are getting all your vitamins and minerals, then an inexpensive one a day pill might be okay. But that opinion is definitely not based on any scientific reasoning, other than my skewed commonsense.
And there is a ridiculous number of pseudo-scientific sounding products and terms that sound great but are they necessary? Creatine is good but with 100 grams of sugars? How about taking the creatine with grape juice instead, it would be a lot cheaper for sure.
Personally, I am not big on supplements. At one time, I spent several hundred dollars a month on protein supplements and creatine. But, as I refocus my fitness goals, I find all that is unnecessary, without regard to whether it is actually needed or not. And I would venture that for the most of us, it is not necessary either. We can get what we need from whole foods.
I am not a bodybuilding expert nor do I play one on TV. I have never, ever even contemplated entering a contest, let alone be a Mr. Anything other than Mr. Dad. Still, I think building a healthy, strong body for the long term is doable with what you have on hand without a lot of costly supplements or equipment. Hey, prove me right!
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