A vital question really – should you be adding Supplements to Your Diet?
The Myth of the balanced Indian Meal
From the earliest stages of our life, the virtues of a balanced diet intake have been preached and ensured by our parents and elders. For instance, a normal North Indian meal would comprise – chapattis, daal (pulses), subzi (veggies) and dahi (yoghurt). And it can further be stretched out to a chilled glass of buttermilk, a fruit or even a sweet dish.
But is this a balanced meal or simply an age-old trend?
At first glace, definitely the former! This normal north indian meal – mentioned above and consumed daily in our lifestyle – is as balanced as it can be. But…did anyone ever mention, how much ghee in the veggies, how much salt in the daal and how much sugar or jaggery in the sweet dish?
That, people, is the single biggest point of argument amongst the various generations in your family – each of whom have each worked in different climate, circumstance and field with each requiring unequal amounts of mental and physical energies!So, I think we will all agree that a farmer’s dietary requirement is very different from that of an IT professional. Their work, lifestyle and routines require varied levels of mental and physical effort. Accordingly they eat differently. And that is acceptable to all.
So why are Fitness Professionals derided for using Supplements?
Most people that we meet and converse with, in daily life, are keen to suggest that I as a Fitness Professional eat as natural as possible. Of course, they are correct but only to an extent. What do I mean? Let us, for a minute – observe their typical lifestyle. A normal North Indian person consumes the following as a part of his daily diet
– 3-4 cups of tea a day with 4-6 buiscuits
– 3 servings of daal or veggies with significant amounts of ghee or refined oil
– 8-10 chappatis again smeared with ghee
– Some fried snacks and or an evening dose of alcohol/beer
– 1-2 servings of utterly sweet mithai
– Maybe a glass or two of artificially flavoured sugary drinks (“soft drinks”).
The sum of this balanced diet (maybe not that balanced!) will total up to some 8-10 teaspoons of sugar, 6-8 spoons of saturated and transfat in the form of oils and 3000 – 4000 calories. And above all their daily physical movement is restricted to marching towards office canteen.
It is a little odd when these so called “balanced eaters” munching samosas and sipping Pepsi decide to comment on the Dietary practises of qualified Fitness professionals which at their best – comprise boiled eggs, boiled/steamed veggies sans dollops of oil and salt, protein shakes and other supplements, coupled of course with intense and calorie-burning workouts! And more than a little baffling when Coca-colas are considered better than protein shakes, Mithai better than multi-vitamins and Cookies better than protein/granola bars.
Supplements in my diet are the most controversial point of discussion with any of my average colleagues & its interesting how people without the right knowledge feel free to lecture on the ill-effects of supplements and protein shakes.
Are Supplements Natural?
Like most things in the world today, there is a wide range of Supplements available and you can choose options that are as natural as that buttermilk in your refrigerator.
Secondly, supplements, if consumed in the prescribed manner and accompanied by a balanced and well-planned diet, do not have ill-effects. Rather they can have countless good effects on our body.
So What are Protein Supplements?
Proteins are the building blocks for our muscles which are used in every chore of our day and should be a vital part of our diet to build and maintain all types of body tissue, including muscle.
The quantity of protein required per person varies according to his/her lifestyle. An active or athletic person would require more protein than someone with a sedentary lifestyle. Supplements provide the same proteins and amino acids as are present in our natural food, but the reason for including supplements as a part of our balanced diet are:
- The percentage of protein in supplements is higher than natural sources, making it easier to fulfill the body’s requirements in one shot versus consuming plates of protein-rich food. This is especially true for Vegetarians who, without supplements, find it very difficult to meet their protein goals basis their fitness-based lifestyles.
- The protein in supplements are designed to be easily absorbable into our bodies
- Most supplements are faily open in their ingredient listing and you can therefore choose natural options if you like.
So should you be taking Supplements?
Supplements – as the name suggests – supplement the dietary needs of our body. But do remember that they supplement your body’s requirement along with balanced meals or as I learnt – FOOD FIRST, SUPPLEMENT LATER – which along with workouts is the best mehtod of achieving your fitness goals.
HEALTH & MEDICAL DISCLAIMER
The above article has been penned by an experienced Fitness professional and pre-supposes a in-depth knowledge of the action, requirement and role of any supplement in your dietary plan, so please a qualified and certified fitness instructor or your GP before consuming any supplements.