Consult a nutritionist or physician before you include commercial supplements in your diet

Today, commercial supplements are being widely recommended to increase stamina, build muscle, lose weight, increase weight or improve vitality and stamina. It is important to question the recommendation. Do you really need supplements? Begin by answering these two questions.

Firstly, do you get adequate nutrition from your diet? Secondly, does participation in sports activities necessitate additional dietary supplementation?

To find out if you do need supplements, for medical reasons or otherwise, you must consult your physician or nutritionist. Indiscriminate usage can cause undesirable side-effects.

Widely marketed commercial supplements such as packaged powders and pills are not advocated by internationally-recognised health and fitness institutes. Always remember, balanced nutrition and sensible fitness training are the keys to muscle development, without the risk of any harmful side effects.

Protein supplements

Muscle tissue is composed of about 75 to 80 per cent water and 20 per cent protein.

Myth 1 Protein consumption increases muscle mass.

Fact Protein consumption in itself does not increase muscle size. Muscles must be stimulated by progressive training to increase strength.

In fact, consuming excess protein can be harmful. Excess protein is stored as fat, causing weight gain and places undue stress on the kidney and liver.

Myth 2 Active people and athletes need high levels of protein.

Fact An active person requires one gm of protein per kg of body weight. An athletic person requires no more than one to 1.5 gm per kg of body weight.

Myth 3 Vegetarian diets lack protein.

Fact Dietary protein does not have to come from animal sources alone. Legumes such as beans, peas and peanuts are an excellent source of protein, especially when combined with grains.

A balanced diet gives you the necessary protein you require. For instance, foods such as milk, milk products, meats and eggs are complete sources of protein. Vegetable proteins are incomplete and need to be combined with other foods to be complete. For example, grains and lentil (dal and rice), nuts or seeds with grains (peanut butter on toast), nuts or seeds with legumes (til and dal); are excellent vegetarian protein sources.

Tip: Do not discard whey

Whey protein is the watery liquid left over after making cottage cheese. It contains lactic acid, as well as valuable proteins, which help digestion. When you make paneer, do not discard the whey. Add it to soups or mix it in chapatti dough for added nutrition.

Protein found in common foods

Milk (1 cup) 8 grams of protein

Yoghurt (1 cup) 8 grams of protein

Egg white (1) 7 grams of protein

Peanut butter and bread (1 slice) 6 grams of protein

Chicken breast (3.5 ounces) 30 grams of protein

Vitamin and mineral supplements

A balanced diet provides the body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin or minerals, if needed to be supplemented, should always be prescribed by your physician.

Creatine

All skeletal muscle tissue contains creatine. Dietary creatine is found both in meat and fish. Part of the reason for creatine's growing popularity is improvement in the ability to perform short-term, vigorous exercise.

Creatine facts

Consumption of creatine and the possibility of weight gain, stomach cramping, liver and kidney damage may exist. Do not consume, unless prescribed by your health care professional — as the safety of this supplementation is questionable.

Anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids are a synthetic copy of the hormone testosterone. Athletes, especially bodybuilders, may feel lured towards them as these drugs increase muscle size, strength and stamina. The truth is that they are illegal performance-enhancing substances and have adverse repercussions. The potential consequences include increased blood pressure, depression, aggression, liver cancer and increase in cholesterol.

RELATED NEWS

Fitness guru Jack LaLanne, 96, dies at homeJanuary 24, 2011