Every day there is a new pill, powder or drink that will ‘boost your metabolism’, ‘speed up fat-loss’ or ‘increase your muscle mass’ and here at Global Health Promotions we tend to get asked what’s what quite a lot. Generally, the average person can achieve everything they need from a healthy balanced life through good nutrition and exercise. However, we do understand that some of you may be looking for that competitive edge via supplementation and so we have created an easy guide for you to evaluate your supplementation considerations.
First of all, manufacturer claims are frequently over-estimated and exaggerated. Your first port of call prior to shelling out for extremely expensive products is to look at the scientific evidence provided by the manufacturer. If any claim is true, then there will be references provided by the manufacturer detailing the science behind it. You can investigate this simply by taking the references they have provided and searching for them in google scholar. Reading through the abstract provided is a simple and easy way to get a quick understanding of the study. If no references are provided, do not purchase the supplement. Many companies make nutritional claims that are not only false but actually illegal. The important things to remember when it comes to nutritional claims are:
1) They must be accurate and evidence-based; no research, no purchase!
2) The product must contain sufficient quantities suitable for humans of the active ingredient. That is, the product must have enough of the ‘magic beans’ to actually provide you with the effects the evidence states it to have; check how much is present within the product and quickly google to see how much is required to be ‘effective’.
3) The active ingredient must be present in a form that the body can use; the body often cannot breakdown or digest certain forms – double check how we process it and look to see if that is the case within the product.
4) The claim must be easily understood by the consumer; you don’t understand what it does? Don’t consume it!
So how do you know when a study is good quality or not? This can be quite tricky but if you follow the below steps, you should be on a steady path to evaluating the supporting research:
1) How long has research been carried out on this product/ingredient? Did the studies follow up on long-term effects and/or benefits?
2) Has the study been properly designed? When it comes to supplement research you want to look for the term ‘Double Blind Placebo Controlled’. This means that the research had a sound design in that neither the research nor participants knew what they were being tested for controlling any bias as well as being compared to a control/placebo group.
3) Is there human research? As much as animal studies contribute greatly to science we do need to know the exact effects on human beings.
4) Are the results clearly presented and has statistical analysis been performed? You are looking for the words ‘statistically significant’.
Finally, you need to evaluate if it is safe and legal. Questions to ask and/or look for are:
1) Are there any side effects?
2) Is it toxic?
3) Is it legal? Is it a banned substance from sporting environments? Is there the potential for doping contamination?
If after all of that you think you have came across a safe, legal and worthwhile supplement then you may wish to go ahead with your purchase. However, remember that almost all of what we need for everyday life can very much be achieved through a healthy balanced diet, good organisation, strong mental fitness and educating yourself. Knowledge is always power. If you still feel a bit confused as to how you can better your performance, weight-loss, muscle gain, or general health status then get in touch today and see how we can help.