What the Supplement?!?

Whether you’re involved in CrossFit, or any of a number of other fitness regime, the odds are great that at some point you have been told, asked about, or purchased supplements. There are supplements available for anything you could imagine in regards to your health. This isn’t going to be a post on the good companies and bad companies…That would be a novel! A quick internet search over the last 25 years will yield a laundry list of supplements that the FDA no longer allows on the shelves due to kidney failure, death and everything in between. From protein powders and stimulants to appetite suppressants; each has had seen better days.
There are a few major problems with the supplement business. First, it’s a multi-billion dollar business which leads to some shady business practices when just 1% market share can create good revenue for a business. Second, while I’m not a fan of the FDA and their willingness to protect the public (or accept bribes); they don’t approve any supplements or vitamins on the market, that I am aware of. Some oversight, somewhere would be helpful to make sure people aren’t mixing sawdust with some protein and calling it a meal replacement. The third problem is where we accept and act on the information that we receive regarding a supplement. The odds of the sales person knowing much more than what’s their most profitable products to sell is unlikely. The odds of your friend who took the supplement and saw results is a sample size of 1. Also, in that example, and most cases of dramatic results, it’s rarely just one thing that helped. It’s more often one of a number of lifestyle changes they made (ie. Better nutrition, more sleep, improved hydration, exercise, etc) in addition to any supplement(s) that made the changes. The last issue I see is the bullshit “studies” that are shared in regards to the studies. Where was it published, who funded it, was it valid, reliable, was it double blind and placebo controlled? These are all questions to ask yourself if the companies “research” is going to be the reason for your purchase.
Here’s the caveat, I’m not here to say that supplements do not work, or don’t have their place in the health and fitness space. There’s a saying, “You can’t out exercise a poor diet”. The same can be said for supplements. You also cannot out supplement your poor habits.
The exotic substances that companies tout as “the miracle” in their product are rarely that. Most “proprietary blends” are just that because they are mostly fillers and little substance. “Cleanses” are another common form or supplementation many will hear about. Some of those may have their place, however none will be the life-saver if you continue to abuse your body by eating garbage. If 10% of your year is a “cleanse” and 90% is trash; stop fooling yourself. If a cleanse of some sort is the catalyst to improving your nutrition, that’s great! If you treat it as your annual short term stop gap from oreos, soda and pizza; that’s going to be a losing battle.
The moral of the story is this; eating a nutritious diet is simple, not easy. Just like most things in life and business, it is the small things, repeatedly done well, over time, that will pay the biggest dividends. Supplementation has it’s place. Yet, if you find yourself taking more pills, powders and potions each day than grandma with diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and emphysema; I suggest you stop.