Do I Need Supplements?
We all want to get the most out of the time we spend working out, and at some point, many of us will explore the use of commercial supplements. In this post, we’ll explore whether supplementation is needed pre- and post-workout.
WHAT ARE SUPPLEMENTS?
Commercially-blended dietary supplements are products containing ingredients intended to add further nutritional value to the diet. In the context of fitness, such supplements may also claim to positively enhance aspects of training, performance and body composition. While there may be good evidence that a supplement works, information about dosage may be misleading. Many ingredients within a supplement can act together, and can also interact with food, thereby producing different effects under different conditions.
In a pure sense, it’s also important to understand that a supplement can also be regarded as something that is added to something else to support or enhance it. In this sense, any type of natural or whole food can also be a supplement.
ARE SUPPLEMENTS USEFUL?
Many commercially-blended supplements will claim to support your training, both pre- and post-workout, offering enhanced energy levels, greater endurance, increased muscle mass and reduced body fat. The question of whether they work is a consideration; but more importantly is whether commercial supplements are essential and is there a real physiological need pre- and post-workout?
CAN PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS HELP?
Pre-workout supplements are designed to change the way you feel during your workout. In fact, most of the ingredients will simply create the perception that your workout is enhanced. Kesh Patel, Fitness Director for EVO Europe says, “Popular pre-workout supplements will generally increase blood flow, heart rate, and focus – but these effects do not make you fitter and stronger. Even known substances such as caffeine and creatine, which have been scientifically proven to enhance performance, only do so modestly in very fit people. For most, the benefit is largely insignificant, unless you are pushing yourself to the limit – which may pose a health risk for some”.
The only time you need to consider a pre-workout supplement is when your energy intake prior to exercise has been less than optimal. In such cases, a carbohydrate-based snack or drink may be enough to fuel your training.
CAN SUPPLEMENTS HELP WITH POST-WORKOUT RECOVERY?
Before answering this question, post-workout recovery is not just about post-workout nutrition; in fact, it’s more about current health, overall dietary habits, intelligent training and physical rest – if these are in good order, recovery will always be optimized.
Having said that, the immediate challenge post-workout is replenishment of energy and electrolytes. When normal eating patterns cannot be resumed quickly, it can be useful to consume a commercial carbohydrate-based supplement; however, fruit, fruit juice or smoothies will also work well. While some experts may advocate the consumption of protein immediately post-workout, for most, it’s unnecessary providing they have balanced eating habits.
WHAT IS EVO’S POSITION ON SUPPLEMENTS?
While many pre-workout supplements may at best offer transient training effects, supplementation during and post-workout may be useful, depending on workout duration, type and intensity. At EVO, we believe in understanding the specific physiological needs of your training, and if necessary, to supplement intelligently. For most people, pre-workout supplementation is unnecessary, providing the body has enough energy and is well hydrated. During exercise, an isotonic sports drink will help replace essential electrolytes lost through metabolic processes, including sweating. A healthy snack such as fruit, fruit juice, smoothie or a flapjack, may also help to replenish energy quickly, after a workout.