Nutritional Supplements: basic concepts

· 13th February 2019
Whether it's consumed in powder or liquid form, the principle is the same: to supplement the diet. That is, these products are designed to reinforce the necessary nutrition of an athlete in contrast to the diet of a person who does less physical activity.

Any substance that contains a complementary food ingredient falls into the category of a nutritional supplement. This is the consensus according to the United States Congress and most other countries. The concept is very broad, but it comprises the essentials.

Reasons for their intake

In principle, the basic objective of nutritional supplements is to provide an extra dietary load of something that may be lacking to some extent. Although the reasons for consuming them are many, some of them are the following:

  • Obtaining energy (vitamins, minerals).
  • Complementing food (proteins, vitamins, etc.).
  • To complete a bodily function (for example, iron is used to improve oxygen circulation in organs).
  • Trying to strengthen the immune system and prevent diseases.
Nutritional supplements can help strengthen the immune system.

In addition to this, there are medical conditions that imply the need to supplement a certain substance. As in the case of iron for pregnant women, or calcium supplements for people of a particular age.

Gaining nutrients, proteins, and weight

There’s a widespread idea that nutritional supplements serve to gain a few extra pounds. In practice, we have the famous weight-gain products, which are ideal for children with appetite issues. People with eating disorders and those with a thin build also benefit.

Still, it’s not all about raising calories. Most of these supplements stimulate muscle tone, energy resources, and vitamins. In order for this type of product to make us gain weight, it must be combined with a diet geared towards that purpose.

People with an ectomorph body type need extra help to gain some size. This happens because the rhythm of their metabolism allows them to quickly process their food and burn fat. It’s in those scenarios that having a more permissive diet becomes appropriate.

Not all nutritional supplements serve to gain weight

The fact that a supplement improves our nutrition doesn’t mean that we should gain weight with it. In truth, there are products that can even lead us to burn more calories if we follow a strict diet. The final goal would be to maintain nutritional balance.

Some nutritional supplements can lead us to burn more calories.

There are many options for vitamin supplements that allow us to satisfy our appetite. These products give us a controlled amount of positive substances for muscle development. This occurs with many supplements designed for night use.

In this type of situation, we replace fats with low-calorie food. However, it’s wrong to think that these supplements can replace a meal, for example.

Who needs to supplement their diet?

In reality, all people can benefit from the right supplement, regardless of gender or age. An extra capsule of vitamins and minerals in the correct dose doesn’t hurt anyone. Although some of the following groups of people frequently resort to these products:

  • Pregnant women.
  • Children with problems in their nutrition or growth.
  • People who are 60 years old and up.
  • Women with very strong menstruation periods or in the process of menopause.
  • Athletes and fitness fans that want to improve their figure and performance.

In regards to athletes, the supplement guarantees an extra contribution before, during, and after training. This occurs because exercise involves calorie burning.

Post-workout nutrition

The habit of performing exercises implies a notorious imbalance in our body. The muscles go into stress and tear to form new and better-developed tissue. The calories burn and the loss of minerals, fluids, and vitamins will take place.

Moreover, our bodies absorb nutrients better if we consume them while in basal conditions. That is when the body needs it the most due to wear and tear. It’s precisely in these moments that consuming B complex or protein supplements is more advisable.

What we’re advising is valid even for those people who want to reduce or tone their muscles. Energy resources such as creatine can also be mixed with protein shakes after training. The correct thing to do is to wait 30 minutes after completing the routines to ingest it.

In conclusion, nutritional supplements always give us nutritional reinforcement. These products can never be seen as substitutes for a balanced meal. Doing this or resorting to them in excess can have negative consequences.