Why You Should Avoid Taking Supplements

They do more harm than good!

The aim of anything we incorporate in our routine life is to have a healthy body but the quest sometimes borders on narcissism for a good looking body as well. Bodybuilding is fast becoming a trend and in addition to an exercise routine, taking supplements is also part of the regime.

The word in itself is self-explanatory - ‘Supplement’, not substitute for healthy eating.

There Are Two Type Of Supplements

1. Widely used ones like Whey, Creatine, Glutamine and Casein.
2. Dubious ones like Fat Burners, Thyroid control pills and steroids, whose effects are unknown.

The Technical Categories Are

1. Testosterone Boosters
2. Anabolics
3. Protein Supplements

Testosterone Boosters

How They Work:

 Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for male pattern muscle and fat distribution. A minor increase in testosterone level can lead to an increase in muscle mass. The supplements that boost testosterone can be herbal supplements, most common being Ginseng and can also be pharmaceutical-based.

The Side Effects Of Excess Testosterone Are:

  • Hair Loss
  • Acne
  • Prostate Enlargement
  • Gynaecomastia

How To Avoid These Side Effects:

The blood level estimation of free testosterone and DHEAS (dihydro androstenedione) should be done at a 6-monthly interval and any increase beyond limits (set as parameters) should be followed by discontinuation of products for at least one month.

The Anabolics 

What Is Anabolism:

It is the phase of metabolism in which simple substances are synthesised into complex substances in our body. Creatine is used in the body to make energy. 
Arginine is a very safe anabolic but if there is an infection of herpes virus which can be latent i.e not active, eg if there is a history of oral sores (herpes labialis) or herpes genitalis, arginine supplements can activate the infection. -alanine causes tingling of skin in some people and flushing. This effect is harmless but can be very irritating. Always read the constituents of the supplements and see how it affects you. Discontinue even if there is a slight irritation.

These supplements, if taken for a longer time, overload the system and you might experience the following: 

  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight gain
  • Kidney stones
  • Dehydration

How To Avoid These Side Effects - These side effects are seen when loading the body without enough hydration. Take creatine in a moderate amount and not daily and drink 2 litres of water that day so the system is not overloaded.

Proteins And Their Requirements

Once you have been exercising regularly for at least a month and the muscle mass has increased, you need a rich diet in proteins to compensate for the wear and tear of muscles and accelerate the muscle mass.
The natural sources of proteins are

  1. Eggs
  2. Milk
  3. Poultry
  4. Soya

Protein supplements available are whey proteins, casein, egg protein, rice protein and pea protein.

Common Side Effects Associated With Protein Supplements: 

Upsets Digestive System - The common proteins, whey and casein are derived from milk, so they are not suitable for people with lactose intolerance. These symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting.

Imbalance Of Blood Sugars - To make them edible, artificial sweeteners are added which can cause spikes in blood sugar. Soy, whey, casein can bring down the systolic blood pressure. Avoid these if you are prediabetic or diabetic and have low blood pressure.

Paradoxical Weight Gain: If the workout does not match the protein intake, the unused calories convert to fat. Always match your protein intake with your workout schedule.

Kidney Disorder: Proteins get converted into urea which is excreted by the kidney. Impairment of kidney, kidney stones can be a problem over time. Always drink a good quantity of water to flush the kidneys.

Decrease In Bone Mass: Excess blood protein levels lead to an increase in calcium depletion from the bones as the body wants to maintain the balance especially animal protein supplements, eg- egg and beef can lead to osteoporosis and brittle bones. Every 6 months get your blood calcium and vitamin D3 levels checked.

Hormonal Disruption: This is true of Soy protein as it is a rich source of estrogen, the female hormone, daidzein and genistein found in soy can cause erectile dysfunction, diminished libido and enlarged breast in men.

Drug Interactions-

  1. They decrease the effectivity of blood pressure medicines
  2. Whey proteins interact with blood thinners and painkillers
  3. The best way is to consult your physician before starting any brand.

Things To Keep In Mind

  1. Avoid having too much of one kind of protein, always change the type and brand.
  2. Keep it to 30-60 gm of protein per day in powder form. 
  3. If you experience any change in body functions always consult a physician.
  4. The products to avoid absolutely as there are no safe limits: Pre-workouts and fat burners.
  5. These have large doses of caffeine and can cause nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness and even heart attack. Long-term use causes dependence.
  6. Be safe and always use products to your advantage.
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