Separating truth from myth can often be difficult in the muscle building and fitness realm. Everyone has an opinion, and often these opinions are based on rumors, misinformation, or a 10 second blurb overhead on the nightly news or radio. Many supplement myths remain prevalent, despite the fact that these myths have been extensively studied and proven to be wrong.
This article will take a look at 14 popular supplement myths. You will first be presented with the myth, and then the truth that will dispel this myth. If you know of an existing supplement myth that is not on this list, I encourage you to do your own research and look at both sides of the debate. Supplements are often painted as unnecessary or dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Myth #1: Whey Protein Makes You Fat
Truth – Whey protein doesn’t make you fat. Only eating an excessive amount of daily calories can make you gain fat. Eating a proper amount of daily protein will ensure maximum muscle gains. On the other hand, if you under eat protein, you make it harder for your body to add muscle.
Myth #2: Supplements Are A Waste Of Money
Truth – There are an amazing number of effective nutritional and muscle building supplements on the market that help to maximize performance and overall health. Don’t let the exaggerated claims of a handful of snake-oil salesmen keep you away from products that amplify your efforts.
Myth #3: I Eat A Good Diet, I Don't Need Supplements
Truth – A well-balanced diet is a good start, but it does not mean that you are meeting all of your body’s nutritional needs. Nutrient needs can change and fluctuate because of age, health, stress and intense training. Consider supplements an insurance policy, one that fills in the gaps.
Myth #4: All Supplements Are The Same Quality
Truth – Not all supplements are created equal. Different companies have different standards. Some companies rely on a lower quality and purity of raw materials so they can provide a lower price. Don’t purchase supplements based on price. You may be throwing your money away. Instead, seek out the opinions of others and research the best-selling products.
Myth #5: Creatine Is A Steroid
Truth: Creatine is nothing like a steroid. Creatine is a natural substance found in the human body that helps to supply energy to (primarily) muscle cells. Performance enhancing anabolic steroids are drugs that mimic the benefits of the male sex hormone testosterone and are most commonly taken in excessive, dangerous dosages. While creatine is safe and natural, steroid use comes with many potentially dangerous side effects.
Myth #6: Supplements Improve Your Strength And Muscle Mass Even If You Don’t Train
Truth – While supplements can improve your overall health, battle stress, improve sleep and bolster your immune system, they are not magic pills and powders that can turn you into a bulging bodybuilder. Supplements help to amplify your training, but they will not make you bigger or stronger if you are not working hard in the gym.
Myth #7: Supplements Cause Many Side Effects
Truth – The majority of ingredients contained in supplements are found naturally in the human body, or in the food we eat. Proper supplementation yields very minimal side effects.
Myth #8: Creatine Causes Kidney Damage
Truth – Because of it’s popularity as a performance boosting supplement, creatine use has been extensively studied. Creatine has been shown to be safe and non-toxic for use by individuals with a healthy kidney (renal) function.
Myth #9: Creatine Use Causes Muscle Cramps
Truth – As with the previous myth, this myth has also been studied and proven to be incorrect. In fact, one study revealed that athletes who supplement with creatine actually experienced fewer muscle cramps, strains, injuries, dehydration and muscle tightness. (Mayhew, Mayhew, and Ware)
Myth #10: Everyone Will Experience The Same Benefits From A Supplement
Truth – This is completely false. Each individual is unique, and no two athletes train the same or eat the same. Often times you will find that creatine or pre-workout, nitric oxide supplements work better for some than others. In fact, it is often the case that one person will experience minimal benefits from one brand, but receive great benefits from another. Don’t assume that because a supplement didn’t work well for your friend, that it won’t work for you.
Myth #11: High Protein Diets Are Unhealthy
Truth – There is no research to back up the claim that a high protein diet impacts healthy individuals with proper kidney functioning in any negative way.
Myth #12: Athletes Do Not Need Extra Protein
Truth – Research reveals that hard working athletes do require extra protein. Exercise tears down muscle tissue, and additional protein helps assist the body in repairing and rebuilding this damaged tissue. In addition, studies point to the reality that athletes who undereat protein – or eat what is considered to be a "normal" amount of protein – actually lose muscle tissue.
Myth #13: Fat Burners Are A Waste Of Money
Truth: Most popular fat burning supplements contain a battery of ingredients that are effective at stimulating your metabolism and encouraging and assisting the body with burning fat. While fat burners are certainly not miracle products that will help you shed fat even if you are eating poorly, combined with weight training, cardio and a proper diet they assist in bolstering your energy and metabolism during long periods of weight loss.
Myth #14: Our Body Produces Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids On Its Own
Truth – The body doesn’t produce omega-3 fatty acids on its own. Omega-3’s are considered essential, meaning the body is incapable of producing them, and they must be obtained through the food we eat. Supplements such as fish oil supply the body with needed omega-3 fatty acids, and are very beneficial to hard-training athletes and individuals who are on a limited calorie diet.