Who's on first? The multivitamin. This easy to swallow pill supplements your diet with the extra nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and strong. Sounds good, right? Technically it is. True it is difficult to receive all our nutrients from food, even if you eat like a rabbit. This constitutes a need! The only recommendation is that you check your multi to see how well it actually absorbs into your system. No need to be buying expensive urine! (Personally I love Green Vibrance by Vibrant Health. It is powdered veggies and fruits therefore absorbs quickly into your system without being peed out! It is simple and simple is a good thing, besides where else would you get those nutrients than veggies in the first place?).
What's on second? Whey Protein and Branch Chain Amino Acids. Here is where we find the want. Or do we? It is imperative to put these two supplements under the microscope. Like clockwork the post-holiday season brings us diet pill commercials and stores lined with every diet supplement known to man. I have found whey protein to be on display in many stores these days, but do you need it? Let's look at what it does. Whey protein is derived from milk/dairy so you get the benefits of the protein and calcium without the lactose. Good. It also has essential amino acids that the body needs but cannot produce. Another check for the good. Here is where the nitty gritty comes in. What it does is help muscles post workout to rebuild by providing protein. This is for the purpose of building mass and reducing recovery time.
So you need ask yourself, are you trying to bulk up? If that is your goal than this may be for you, but keep in mind that you may retain more water weight with it AND that the average person needs 46-55g protein/day which, likely, you could receive through diet. If you add whey protein you may be consuming too much protein which, we all know that too much of a good thing is not good. So the verdict is: take a look at your activity level and what your fitness goals are to determine whether or not you should supplement with whey protein. Generally speaking unless you are an elite athlete a la the NFL, etc. the chances are you don't need this.
Next up? Branched Chain Amino Acids. The same essential amino acids are provided in this supplement and very readily absorbed into the digestive system. Good. The idea behind these is that as we exercise muscle tissue gets broken down so supplementing helps to repair. Again, sounds good. Now here comes the determining factor of need vs. want. Studies have been done and the results showed that those who supplement with BCAA's performed at the same rate as before they began taking BCAA's, the only difference was their perception of exertion decreased. Basically you could feel able to do more than normal. Is that true? Well, you have to weigh it against the concept of mind over matter. Whenever a study is performed there is always a placebo group, those who are given something that usually is a sugar pill but they think it's more than that and so have equal results simply because their mind believes they took medicine. This study did find that with resistance training (weight training vs. cardio) there was a benefit with those who took BCAA's.
Where does that leave us? Really it comes down to what your goals are. If you need to prepare your body for an event and thus need to workout often and workout hard, then supplementing could be of benefit. My hope is that this demystifies some of the uses in order for you to make an educated decision.
Kerry M. Davis LMT, CIMT, SFG