If you do not consume a sufficient quantity of nutrients each day through your normal diet, you may take supplements to make up for this, generally classed as dietary supplements.
Supplements may also aid weight loss or muscle gain, or even improve athletic performance. These are generally classed as bodybuilding supplements, with protein powder being a well-known supplement for those looking to improve their performance.
However, not all substances are safe and legal, so it is very important to make sure anything you are going to take is not dangerous, by asking your doctor first. If you take any supplements and experience any side effects, you should visit your doctor.
If you compete in sports, it is especially important no supplements you take contain prohibited ingredients, which could result in a sporting ban.
Bodybuilding supplements could replace or compliment meals, and are a convenient choice if you are short on time, with many different types available. Most people are familiar with products using protein powder, such as shakes, capsules, gels, oats and bars, which are available over-the-counter and online.
Intended to help improve your performance and recovery, they can be taken before, during or after exercise, and usually this will be in the form of whey protein. You may also take protein before going to sleep, usually in the form of casein protein, which is absorbed more slowly by the body. There is no evidence yet that having more than the recommended serving size of protein powder increases the benefits gained.
Protein is a vital part of our diet and is largely responsible for building up and maintaining body tissues (which includes muscles). Many people associate protein supplements as helping you bulk up, but they can also help you slim down too.
However, replacing meals with protein shakes is not as beneficial as many people think, because they do not contain the vitamins and nutrients that a balanced meal contains. Simply including plenty of protein-rich foods in your meals could help enhance your performance and training perfectly well.
Due to a lack of research into the long-term effects of protein supplements, it is not recommended that children take protein supplements. The Department of Health also recommends not exceeding more than twice the recommended daily amount of protein (45g for women, 55.5g for men).
Dietary supplements mainly focus on ensuring you consume sufficient quantities of vitamins and nutrients which are important for your health, which might otherwise be lacking from your diet. Including things such multivitamins and weight loss pills, they should not be taken in place of nutritious foods, but as a small addition instead.
Ideally, you should follow a balanced, healthy diet, which negates the need for you to consume any dietary supplements, which aren't always as good for you as you would think they are.
However, dietary supplements can be useful for pregnant or nursing women, the elderly, those with food allergies and (strict) vegetarians.
Adverse side effects of dietary supplements have been reported over the years, including deaths. It is important to adhere to guidelines, to avoid things such as overdosing.
Diet pills are controversial, and some even contain Dinitrophenol (DNP), which is illegal to sell in the UK due to it being highly toxic and unfit for human consumption. Numerous deaths have been attributed to DNP, so it is imperative you consult your doctor before you take anything.