How the Supplement Industry is ruining your health and your wallet
By Klaud Petrulis
Quick and easy fixes usually don’t work or have a massive downside. Today we start to explore the world of supplements/pills/powders/potions. Did you know that supplements at the most may give you a 5% performance boost or edge? And that’s only if you’re at an elite level? We have a very serious supplement addiction/dependence problem on our hands thanks to the greed of the supplement industry.
Do you take pre-workout? Casein protein shakes? Carb-loaders? Nitric Oxide enhancers? Fat burners? If the answer is yes to one or more, you could be wasting a ton of money at the very least and at the worst, doing yourself some serious harm.
In this article I’m going to write specifically on bodybuilding supplements. There’s a lot of snake oil out there, but this shit will do the worst amount of damage to you. I’m going to keep this piece short. I know I say that for almost every article and it turns into a manifesto, but not this. I don’t want to waste more time on supplements and the multi-billion dollar supplement industry than I have to.
The large majority of bodybuilding supplements are, in my opinion, close to poison. Let’s start with one popular example: pre-workout powder. Pre-workout powder is most often used by people who are too tired to work out. Did you have 3 hours of sleep last night? No problem! Take some pre-workout with insane levels of caffeine and other stimulants mixed with a ton of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners! The majority of people are over-stressed, under-recovered, and heavily sleep-deprived. They do not need more stimulants, they need more rest and sleep!
“Oh but Klaud! I can’t work out without pre-workout! You don’t understand!” Listen, I do understand. You make bad lifestyle choices so you feel like shit and have no energy. Powder is not a replacement for your body’s natural recovery cycle. All you are doing is digging yourself into a deeper hole. Adrenal depletion and fatigue are real. I’m still battling my own case from, you guessed it, years of taking different brands of PWO powders/shakes/formulas. If you need pre-workout to work out, you shouldn’t be working out. If you don’t need pre-workout to work out, you should work out. It’s a very simple formula and one, in which you can see, you don’t need pre-workout.
Next up, dairy protein powders. The majority protein powders are terrible, save for the antibiotic free, hormone free grass-fed protein that comes from responsible sources in New Zealand. What do you know? The Kiwis actually care about their health more than they do profits. The effect is that now most reputable brands will import their protein from New Zealand, essentially bringing more profit to NZ than a conventional approach would bring. With that being said, I’ve long since switched off of dairy, especially protein powders. No matter which brand I tried, I always got an inflammatory response and either my skin broke out or my brain would get foggy, or something else stupid would happen. You can be the only judge of what your body likes and dislikes, but sometimes it takes a while to wake up. It doesn’t help that whey, before being commercialized, was considered a waste product. It costs pennies on the dollar to make whey protein powder and they sell it to you for $50+ a tub. Cheap tuna, sardines, and other mini-fish can often be found for 99 cents and is often safer. Feel ripped off yet?
Fat burners. Fat burners can cause liver damage, or better yet, kill you:
I recommend staying far away from this dangerous snake oil. Don’t take fat burners. The risk to reward ratio is heavily skewed towards high risk low reward. It would be like gambling your life’s savings to get a $20 bill. Don’t do it. There are better and more effective ways to go about losing weight than taking pills (that won’t work and may cause you liver damage/death) If you are desperate to lose weight, read my article on fat loss or contact me directly.
I won’t mention any other categories, but if you go into a GNC or a similar store, most of this crap is coloured, sweetened, and processed to a point where it’s not safe to feed to your pets. Ask any person if they’d feed pre-workout or fat burners to their dog or cat. You won’t find many people giving you favourable responses, but ask them if they would take the products, for sure! It’s weird when we know something is instinctively bad for our pets but we take it without a second thought. “Oh, they test this stuff. They know it’s safe.” – The truth is, there are so many supplements that unless people are getting sick or dying in large numbers, the supplements do not get tested. There may be reviews, but there are no large scale tests asserting safety or effectiveness.
The more I learn about health and fitness, the more I realise that you should stick to the basics: eat whole foods, drink good water, sleep 8+ hours, and exercise or implement some sort of movement practice. It really is that easy. The road to quick results is a costly, dangerous, and ineffective one. If you’re in this for the long haul, put down the crap you bought from GNC, save the hundreds you would spend a month, and put it towards buying good quality food (which won’t poison you. score!). That’s all I have for this topic.
There are many useful supplements, and many benefits, but unless you are sick or have an imbalance, you should stick to the basics that I listed at the top of the above paragraph. I’ll leave you with this little tidbit: Would you feed Mr. Mittens the Kitten three scoops of sweetened and coloured pre-workout, 5 scoops of intra-workout, 2 scoops of casein powder and then force him to exercise hard for 2+ hours? No? Then why in Odin’s name would you do that to yourself? Keep it simple. Keep it natural.
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