You train hard to be the best version of yourself. Adding supplements that claim to boost your performance and give you a mental or physical edge can be very tempting. An almost never-ending array of products advertise their performance-enchancing (ergogenic) properties. But be careful, there is so much misinformation out there:
- Dietary supplements are regulated differently than conventional foods and drugs. Manufacturers are not required to prove that a supplement is safe before it is sold, or even that it works. The FDA can take action to remove or restrict the sale of a supplement only after it has been on the market and been shown to be unsafe.
- Most products advertised as having ergogenic properties do not, and those that do work would lose their ergogenic properties if you followed a diet plan that satisfied your energy and fluid need. Most supplements are taken to counter ongoing dietary shortcomings. Think about it, it is cheaper, safer and more effective if you correct your diet. (For example: the amino acid delivery from protein and amino acid supplements is more than 10 times more expensive than the consumption of a small piece of chicken or meat and the chicken is known to be safe. Also: a single ounce of meat provides about 7000mg of high quality amino acids vs a typical amino acid supplement provides only between 500-1000mg.)
- Long term safety studies have rarely if ever been performed.
- Many herbs sold as ergogenic aids have no known chemical content or known active ingredients.
- The legality of some of these products is also in doubt. Studies have shown that many of the supplements are laced with banned substances not listed on the label. Regardless of whether this contamination is purposeful or a result of poor quality control, this could place you at a risk of failing a banned substance blood or urine test!
Instead of focusing on a magic bullet - take a safer, cheaper and more realistic approach:
Always support growth and improve your performance naturally. Use supplementation only when real foods are not practical or not available.