Many of us tend to assume that if a sports nutrition supplement has made it onto a shelf in Australia, it must be safe. We have testing and standards, right? Recent news reports indicate otherwise.
From caffeine supplements to pre-workouts, to protein powders – how can you actually be sure what you’re buying is a) safe and b) actually doing anything beneficial to your body and not just wasting your money?
“Looking after your body is much like looking after your car; too much or too little air in your tyre is no good for your wheel- similarly, too much or too little of any product can be harmful,” explains sports medicine expert Dr. Peter Lewis, founder of Malvern Martials Centre. “The first step is to establish an assessment of what your baseline levels are with well-rounded series of blood tests.”
In other words, don’t just start taking supplements wildly without checking what your own individual body needs. This is going to mean you need to seek an actual expert to help you, whether you’re getting into fitness casually or going pro.
“If you want to be well informed make sure that you seek out and research a young, up to date, well educated, well-informed dietician, whose background extends beyond information supplied in a standard university degree,” says Dr. Lewis. “An experienced exercise physiologist is also invaluable for establishing weaknesses before you embark on anything extreme.”
“You can educate yourself but be aware of some of the popular resources, trending blogs and influencers lack credentials and education – they can promote products whose providence may contain many myths.
This is even for something as simple and common as protein powders, which are commonly used to supplement diets for both weight loss and increased fitness. It might seem straight forward, but you need to get the right one for your own body.
“Be aware there are many different qualities of protein powder and some protein powders contain excessive sugar,” explains Dr. Lewis.
Don’t forget, checking in with a professional about supplements is about being introduced to supplements you never heard of that may be perfect for your body, just as much as being told to stay away from some more commonly used ones. Dr. Lewis has a few examples.
“I believe the most valuable supplements that are being underutilised are coenzyme Q10 and alpha-lipoic acid. These products can aid better recovery, lower blood pressure, combat the side effects of statins and may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.
“Magnesium and zinc are also micronutrient trace minerals that are deficient in some diets.”
Bottom line: supplements are fine but for god’s sake make an appointment with a pro to make sure you’re taking what you actually need to avoid wasting money and, more importantly, damaging your health.