What are supplements?

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What are dietary supplements?

What are dietary supplements?

Looking to boost training performance to achieve your fitness goals? Interested in the health angle? Or simply curious to know more about the plethora of dietary supplements on the market today?

Sportsmen and women take supplements to supply the body with additional nutrients needed during training. Others might take them to aid recovery from illness or injury. Some take a supplement to make up for nutrients lacking in their diets.

Knowing what to take, why you’re taking it and how it works is key to making the most of your healthy training regime.

What types of supplements are there?

Shopping for supplements

Image source: Pure Fitness Nutrition
There is a huge range of sports supplements

Dietary supplements can be bought as capsules, powders, drinks, and snack bars. But it’s the ingredients that count, not the form.

Different ingredients are absorbed by the body at different rates and some products are better taken in one form than in another.

Do your research, and choose what works best with your body and your daily schedule.

Supplements can be split into two categories:
1. Foods regulated by the Foods Standards Agency
2. Medicines regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

It’s important to ensure that any supplement you take is properly approved. Take medical advice before implementing major dietary changes and, when taking supplements always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Elite athletes should consult the UK Anti Doping Agency’s official list of banned substances before selecting a product.

Why use supplements?

Big bicep

Image source: Aleksandar Todorovic
See bigger gains with the right sports nutrition

Intense physical activity places greater demands on your body’s physical resources. Raising your intake of specific vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other vital nutrients helps supply your body’s increased demands – as part of a healthy diet.

Used correctly, supplements are designed to help you train harder, recover quicker and maximise your physical potential.

Different supplements are used for different types of activity:
Pre-workout supplements – build energy levels to maximise workout performance.
Recovery supplements – help your body to recover faster from a hard workout.
Fat loss supplements – boost your metabolism, build lean muscle and suppress appetite.
Weight gain supplements – protein for lean muscle mass.
Muscle growth supplements – promote power, strength and lean muscle.

As well as specialised supplements targeted at specific aspects of your training regime, there are some great all round products available. These achieve a good balance of nutritional support for the whole of your fitness plan.

How should you use supplements?

Man drinking protein shake

Image source: Mircea DFA
Supplements work best alongside a healthy diet

Supplements can work alongside a healthy diet to ensure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs. You should never take any supplement unless you have a clear understanding of the ingredients involved and how they might affect you.

For more information about supplements, download our Beginner’s Guide to Supplements.

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