Supplements. A multi-billion dollar industry that has us all quivering at the knees for this transcendental gift of nutritional wonder. But do we really need all these powders and pills?
After becoming increasingly frustrated at this confusing, contradictory industry, Rebekah Abdeen ‘lifts the lid’ on the world of supplements, shedding light on the lies you’re being sold, time and again…
Unless you’re malnourished or unable to eat solid foods because of a debilitating illness – powders and pills just aren’t necessary. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume 0.8grams of protein for every kilo of ideal body weight per day; some protein supplements contain 50grams per shake! That’s a daily intake in just one serving.
Even the most seasoned athletes who work out 12 hours or more per week should increase their protein intake to only 1.37 grams per kilo of bodyweight. It is highly unlikely that any of these individuals rely on synthetic supplements, and regularly support their protein intake through the use of whole plant foods, guided by professional dieticians.
If you must insist on supplementing a balanced diet, always read the label, stay away from anything synthetic and keep it natural; more on that later.
Is there any harm in digesting too much protein? Yes. Excess protein, particularly animal protein, has been shown to cause major problems in the body. Not only does it accelerate the ageing process, any excess protein that your body is incapable of digesting is either stored as fat or eliminated through the kidneys, causing leaching of calcium and kidney stones. Additionally harmful levels of dangerous heavy metals have been detected in powders from a variety of big name brands.
What about the other supplements? Unnecessary. There really is no need to take synthetic or so-called ‘natural’ performance enhancing/weight loss pills, simply research the relevant food groups and add to a balanced diet. The pills generally contain a multitude of harmful substances such as taurine and sucralose; if you’re unaware of the health risks sweeteners pose, read up on the agricultural mega-giant Monsanto, after all, knowledge is power.
The Industry: The Lie
Going back 10 years, MaxiNutrition was the main brand on the gym shelves and leading health food stores, carrying a relatively masculine energy. They eventually released a stereotypical pink container aimed at women. Because all women love pink, right?
What you may not know about MaxiNutrition is they’re owned by GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical conglomerate. There is now a great selection of meat-head-esque brands similar to MaxiNutrition, powered by various giants but all standing relatively low on the supplements food chain of 2017. They’ve been overtaken, by a more savvy well constructed product, designed to play on the minds of the most vulnerable consumers; women.
If I told you that the pink and sparkly female focussed supplements brands ‘Cute’, ‘Free Soul’ & ‘Women’s Best’ (to name just a few) were all owned by men, would you believe me? Simply spending a few minutes running a search on Companies House will reveal the CEO’s and Managing Directors are all, male. Actually it merely takes a glance at their Instagram accounts to understand the common thread running though all of this is; the bigger the boobs, the bigger the profits.
I’m not suggesting all vacuous campaigns are being masterminded by the male representatives of these organisations, but any brand that supposedly supports female empowerment should be bringing a little more than vanity and empty slogans to the table.
New on-trend packaging, a different dream of empowerment, sisterhood and an influencer with 100k followers boomeranging her shaker like there’s no tomorrow, has us all convinced whatever the pill or powder, we’ll swiftly resemble a bronzed statue, fit only for The British Museum… Little did you know, there’s an MD sitting in Stanmore orchestrating all of this… I wonder if he has a cat? Along with the dream, come the claims:
“…We wanted something smart, effective, and backed by real science – real nutrition for women.”
“…They contain the precise ingredients you need with no artificial flavour, colours, fillers or GMO nasties and absolutely no mystery ingredient.”
“…our whey protein is delicious and we challenge you to find a better tasting vegan protein!”
These claims are from a selection of brands and interestingly the narrative is strikingly similar, mostly because their products are almost identical. It’s very difficult to discover who exactly is manufacturing what through the powers of Google, this is something they don’t want you know. My estimation is, they’re likely using the same manufacturers.
What’s the alternative? Without doubt, the market is confusing and saturated. If I can encourage just a handful of people to step away from the online basket, that’s a start at the very least.
Power your life with the good stuff. High protein plant foods, such as sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and Mediterranean pine nuts can easily be added to a natural smoothy for your post workout. These same foods can be incorporated into well balanced meals, along with plenty of green vegetables, beans and whole grains, which are also rich in micronutrients as well as protein.
If you really must supplement your diet, keep it natural with brands such as Motion Nutrition and Neat. Not only are the founders of both companies former professional athletes, they’re committed to sourcing the best quality natural ingredients at every corner. Neat also donates 20p from every 1kilo bag of their protein to the charity Sports Aid, whilst all Motion Nutrition products are 100% organic certified.
Start making the changes to get real. Toss those garish synthetic supplement tubs in the bin, save yourself some dollar and invest in the things that truly make you feel good. If you are supplementing your diet and busy lifestyle with shakes, question if you have the best product available to you. Educate yourself with every detail before committing to the purchase; health is wealth.
For those who suffer inflammation due to the bodies inability to process high levels of protein, question what it is that’s making you feel so sluggish and gassy. Consider vegan options or simply make your own at home with natural sources of protein that work for you. Most importantly, it might sound obvious but always read the label!
For further information visit the British Nutrition Foundation.