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HEALTHY HUSKY: Get the skinny on supplements

By Luke Belval
On February 20, 2014

Unfortunately one of the largest segments of the fitness industry relies on the idea of quick fixes for long-term problems. Supplements have permeated health circles and prey on your hopes that a pill will solve what ails you. While there are some supplements that have more clout than others, the whole supplement industry is clouded by confusing claims and sometimes unrealistic promises.
The next time you go to the gym you are likely to see the guy in the weight room drinking his powdered drink with the "perfect" cocktail to get you ripped, lean or cut. As with anything there is a balance between the extremes, and hopefully there are some hints to make your consideration of a supplement easier.
Everyone is a salesman with a given product. While you may have friends who swear by a certain powder or pill, their results may not necessarily be duplicated. It is important to consider your own goals and starting point. Whether it's a weight loss promising quick losses (often with dubious safety) or a protein powder to add bulk (sometimes laced with illegal chemicals), even the best supplements can't provide results for everyone.
Regardless of what type of supplement you are looking at, there needs to be some actual biological action to support its claims. While this sounds fancy and as if it may require in-depth scientific knowledge, it can often be achieved by reading the supplement's package. Rather than dubious claims, there should be a purported mechanism of action for how that supplement will work in your body. To add to the balance of the situation, be wary of supplements that seem to rely too heavy on their science. You should not need a degree in physiology to understand what is being put in your body.
One of the largest problems with supplements is that they are not regulated. There is no government oversight regarding the safety or efficacy of a given supplement. Nearly everything you can buy off the shelves of your local GNC can be put there with little or no testing and you may be the guinea pig that results in a product being pulled from the shelves. While some supplements are leading the way, there is still no great way for an end consumer to evaluate a product. A Google search looking beyond the supplement's own website may provide the valuable information you need to determine if a product's risk are too great.
Supplements leave many professionals divided. Some say that you can get everything you need to live healthily, while other advocate for a variety of products. The only person who can determine what is best for you is you. What this doesn't mean is that you should blindly try every product until you find one that fits. The best approach is to sit down, evaluate your goals and determine if a supplement is complementary to your program as a whole - in addition to proper exercise and nutrition.

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