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What are workout supplements and why do people take them?

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When I hear the phrase ‘workout supplements’ I instantly imagine a huge bulging body builder guzzling a protein shake!  But you may be surprised to hear that supplements have become big news in recent years with the regular gym goer and healthy eating fanatic jumping on board and reaping their benefits both pre and post workout. 

They’ve even hit our supermarket shelves and are no longer exclusive to health food stores, making it all the more easier to pick up these mysterious powders and tabs whilst grabbing your normal weekly essentials.  Even many smoothie shaker bottles now have screw on compartments to easily carry supplement powders or tablets to the gym. 

The supplement market is massive and you may be wondering why on earth people take them.  In this article I will explain what workout supplements are and why people take them.

Supplements are exactly that – they are to supplement your diet and exercise, never to replace it.  Proper supplementation can enhance your physical and mental performance by increasing the nutrients you need during a workout.  Thus improving stamina and allowing you to perform at your absolute best.  Taken post workout, supplements can replace vital lost nutrients to ensure your muscles recover quickly and reduce soreness.  It’s not just protein supplements which can benefit a workout; there are many other supplements available too. 

Though the first supplement I think of for improving physique and building muscle mass when working out is protein, there are actually many other beneficial fitness supplements available.  Perhaps you are not looking to build muscle, but reduce how quickly fatigue sets in or help the body to deal with the metabolic stress caused by strenuous activity quicker and more effectively.  Caffeine and vitamin C supplements can help with either of these.  To reduce inflammation, tart cherry juice is an excellent natural anti-inflammatory with almost immediate effects.  As you can begin to see, there are many different types of supplements which can complement many different types of exercise regimes and concerns.

Unfortunately supplements are not regulated, so companies can make many false claims.  They are classed as a food and not a drug, so are deemed safe until proven otherwise.  This makes it difficult for the average gym enthusiast to know whether they are taking something legit or if they are just throwing money down the drain!  It can also be a danger to a person’s health to take incorrect quantities of the wrong supplements, so proper advice should always be sought.  It is highly recommended to consult a professional personal trainer for expert advice before taking a supplement.  As a trained specialist in their field they will be able to advise which supplements are worth taking to take in order to give the most effective and desired results. 

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