Snake Oil

“Does the Acai Berry supplement really help people lose weight and become healthier?”

This question came in from a new client who is just beginning her quest for fitness and I thought it would make a great post as it is something that I have not touched upon yet.  Keep in mind that this is my own personal opinion as I am not a licenced dietician nor have I done any of my own research on supplements.  I took them in college and I don’t now.  There is a lot of controversy that surrounds which supplements work, which don’t, and which ones will make you grow hair on your back.

Too much NO products and fat burners yield this effect...

One of the definitions of supplement is “something added, especially to make up for a deficiency”.  Using this sense of the term, supplements should be used to make up for the things you are not getting in your diet.  As far as the acai berry goes, I’m pretty sure that you will survive just fine without it.  The same goes for the thousands of new diet pills and powders that hit the shelves each year.

Alwyn Cosgrove defines supplements as progress enhancers NOT progress starters.  If you can’t tighten up your nutrion and exercise plan the supplements will be as useful as pissing on a forest fire.  Which, given the right supplements will be the color of a highlighter.  Do you really think a berry is going to rid your body of fat?

But all supplements are not created equal and I do believe that there are many that you should be adding to your nutrition in order to improve your health.  These would be the ones that you add due to a deficiency and I consider them non-supplement supplements.  They would be protein (whey, casein, hemp, egg, milk, soy, animal, plant, whatever floats your boat), fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.  For the most part, they can be used by everyone based on thier nutritional needs and yes, they should improve your health.

Trainer approved supplement list:

  1. Protein Powder
  2. Essential Fatty Acids (fish oil, flax oil, etc.)
  3. Carbs (Gatorade for post-workout recovery)
  4. BCAA’s
  5. Greens or Veggies Supplement
  6. Multi-vitamin (stick to centrum, it’s cheaper and just as effective as GNC stuff)
  7. Creatine*

These are all nutrients that can be attained by food (even the creatine) and aid in everything from energy to recovery.

Some work but are illegal...bad Yankess, bad!

The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, most of which are crap.  Have you ever heard the term “snake oil’?  Some of the salespeople in these advertisements and infomercials would sell you your own underwear back and a higher price.  They use clever marketing, false studies, exagerated claims, airbrushed models (normal people don’t look like that), and care more about the money in their pockets than helping you get healthy.  Just google your supplement scams and you should find your answers.

Like I said, I have been there and done that and tried much of the crap that is on the shelves at GNC.  My heart didn’t explode, my liver didn’t shrink, they didn’t make me look any better and in the end I’m not sure if any of the gains I made back then can be attributed to the supplements.  The one supplement that I will stand by is creatine as it has been the most tested and researched supplement in history and has been proven to show results in 70% of the studies.  If you know anything about scientific research, this is huge.  Here is a huge burger.

Get the picture? Good.

Here is a link to my post on creatine and it’s benefits (for all athletes, men and women).

My general rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, attain them from food, or even know what it is supposed to do then don’t take it.  In conclusion, do your research or ask a professional to do it for you to educate yourself on what you are putting into your body.


About s2bfitness

I am a Certified Health and Fitness Specialist and Strength and Conditioning Coach working out of Fitcorp in the Financial District. I have a no-nonsense approach to training and desire to provide the most up-to-date, results based, and fun training environment for my clients. I specialize in fat loss, strength training, program design, corrective exercise, and nutrition. View all posts by s2bfitness

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