Plenty of athletes, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts tout the benefits of workout supplements. Products such as protein powders and pre-workouts are designed to boost energy through workouts. They have extended beyond bodybuilders and athletes, becoming more popular among regular users. Protein powders are also used as a snack between meals or for meal replacement.
Workout powders are usually mixed with water, juices, or milkshakes. They don’t have the same ingredients. The brands predetermine the quantities, but most contain amino acids, beta-alanine, caffeine, creatine, nitric boosters, and artificial sweeteners.
Are workout and protein powders any good?
Protein powders contain concentrated sources of protein that come from dairy, eggs, peas, or beans. They contain protein concentrates with at least 60% protein and 40% carbs and fats. Protein isolates contain 90% protein. Protein hydrolysates contain amino acids with broken bonds to make them easier to absorb.
Studies show that whey protein can help athletes build and maintain muscle mass. It also helps them recover from exercise and increase muscle strength during training. They can also help with weight control by increasing feelings of fullness and reducing appetite. Research also shows they reduce inflammation and improve heart health.
Pre-workout supplements help you perform better during exercise. They come as pills or powders to be taken a few minutes before exercise. They contain caffeine and other ingredients that make exercise easier. In addition, they help increase muscle blood flow, increase energy, boost endurance, and reduce lactic acid build-up in muscles.
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Which workout supplements are bad for you?
For short-term use, these products are safe. However, the ingredients can cause side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea, cramps, heartburn, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, and water retention. Workout supplements can also interact with medication. Some contain ginseng, a stimulant that boosts energy and contains antioxidants. However, it can make blood-thinning medications less effective. Ulcer medications make caffeine last longer in your system, making the side effects last longer.
Workout supplements can also cause jitters. Some contain too much caffeine, leading to increased heart rate, insomnia, anxiety, and headaches. When taking them, reduce how much tea or coffee you take.
The supplements contain beta-alanine, an amino acid that reduces lactic acid buildup. However, it can cause an itchy feeling in your skin during workouts. It isn’t harmful, but it can be uncomfortable. It can also cause red patches.
Sodium bicarbonate, caffeine, and magnesium can cause stomach upsets. Magnesium citrate can cause diarrhoea. Too little water to make the mixture can lead to nausea, vomiting, bloating, or diarrhoea. Add 350ml of water to the mixture to reduce potential side effects.
Supplements with more than 8g of citrulline can lead to migraines. Citrulline is an amino acid that boosts the nitric oxide levels in the blood. This increases blood flow to muscles, which increases strength. The blood pressure changes can affect the brain’s small blood vessels.
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Protein concentrates can also contain high amounts of sugar. This can cause blood sugar spikes and result in weight gain rather than muscle gain. A study on mice with a high-fat diet found that protein powders can cause plaque build-up in arteries. Research on multiple brands of protein powders contained heavy metals, microplastics, pesticides, and other contaminants.
People who take protein powders also have high levels of inflammation when they grow older. Adults generally consume enough protein and don’t need protein powder supplementation, even for casual workouts. The daily protein goals for adults are 46g for women and 56g for men. You can achieve this with two eggs at breakfast, a pack of nuts for a snack, a cup of milk, and at least 14g of meat during a meal.
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