A nutritionally well-balanced diet can meet an individual’s dietary needs. However, intense physical activity, rigorous workout, and heavy weight training can lead to muscle breakdown, causing cramps and pain, which is why many athletes and fitness enthusiasts add supplements to their diet to improve performance and expedite muscle recovery. Supplements can also help vegans and vegetarians, and people with an illness.
Dietary supplements come as tablets, liquids, bars, capsules, powders, and gels. They promote muscle growth and recovery, improve endurance, reduce fatigue and muscle soreness, and increase the antioxidant activity in the body. However, it is important to know about a few things before including supplements in your daily diet. Aman Puri, Founder, Steadfast Nutrition points out a few points to remember.
Supplements should match the physical activity:
Supplements should match the physical activity
Before taking supplements, athletes and fitness enthusiasts- including gym goers- should assess their daily diet, eating habits, and nutrient requirements as per their level of physical activity. Sports nutrition supplements include pre-workout supplements (energy drinks, creatine, amino acids) and post workout (protein) supplements. While they are safe to take in moderation, they may not suit everyone.
People with diabetes should avoid energy drink:
People with diabetes should avoid energy drink
Energy drinks help replenish the electrolytes lost through sweat while exercising. They hydrate the body, stabilise blood sugar, prevent cramps, and provide endurance during a high-intensity workout. Sports drinks may not be suitable for a casual/recreational/occasional athlete since they can unnecessarily add to the calorie and sodium content. They’re also unsuitable for people with diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and heart problems.
High protein consumption can harm the functioning of gut:
High protein consumption can harm the functioning of gut
Protein supplements help muscle synthesis and post-workout recovery by increasing strength and endurance, delaying fatigue, and boosting performance. Whey protein or plant protein supplements are an easy and effective source of protein to add to the diet. Whey is a fast-acting protein and is quickly absorbed in the body. As per the ICMR, NIN, the protein needs of an individual are 0.83 grams/kg body weight/day, which can be up to 1.5 grams/kg body weight if a person does intense workouts and physical activity. Lactose-intolerant people can have plant-based proteins. However, high protein consumption can hamper the functioning of the gut, causing nausea, bloating, and cramps. High protein consumption can also exert pressure on the kidneys and cause increased calcium excretion, leading to bone loss and kidney failure.
Excess creatine can lead to serious health hazards:
Excess creatine can lead to serious health hazards
Creatine is a popular supplement athletes take to boost energy levels and lean muscle mass. Studies state that 3 g of creatine a day is safe to take long-term. Creatine is not banned and is safe if taken under the supervision of a health expert. Creatine can cause side effects like muscle cramps, nausea, bloating, diarrhoea, dehydration, weight gain, and water retention. Excess creatine can lead to serious health hazards like kidney damage. People with a history of diabetes, hypertension, kidney, liver, and heart problems should avoid taking creatine. Sedentary people who do not exercise regularly should not take creatine.
Some fat burners can lead to liver damage:
Some fat burners can lead to liver damage
Fat burners contain ingredients which increase the resting metabolic rate, promoting fat loss. People with underlying health issues should be careful and understand the ingredients used in the fat burner. Some fat burners can also lead to liver problems, elevated blood pressure, mood swings, irregular heart beat, heart problems, and seizures.
Drink plenty of fluids:
Drink plenty of fluids
Make sure you include plenty of fluids in the diet if you’re taking protein to avoid gut issues and prevent the chances of dehydration. Read the product labels wisely. The product should be free of steroids and heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and copper. Make sure you use protein supplements in moderation accroding to your lifestyle and dietary needs.
Buy good quality products:
Buy good quality products
If on a sedentary lifestyle, one can meet the protein needs by taking a well-balanced diet from whole foods such as greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, eggs, chicken, fish, whole grains, and low fat dairy.
Consult a health practitioner:
Consult a health practitioner
A qualified nutritionist or a medical expert can help one decide the conditions in which one can include protein supplements in the diet and the proportion.