Guest Post: The Evolution of Supplements

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Our latest post comes from the wonderful and talented Samantha Olivier from Ripped.me. We’re delighted to have Samantha featured on the site again and know you’ll enjoy her latest piece.

There is quite a bit of hearsay as well as a slew of myths that obfuscate the truth behind supplements. Well, I would ignore the things you’ve heard through the grapevine and focus on solid facts instead. The story about the evolution of supplements is a stirring one, full of unexpected plots, developments, twists and turns. More importantly, it teaches us a lot about the products that have quickly transformed from unknown interlopers to lead actors on the central stage of fitness.

One to rule them all

So, let us descend down memory lane and find our way to the olden days of supplements. There, we come across only one product which reigned supreme: protein. Apart from picking either a chocolate or vanilla flavor, the choice was as narrow as it could be. The understanding of diet was in its infancy and technology was not looking as mighty as it does today. The necessary push that accelerated the evolution did not come from science, but from popular culture.

Namely, when films like Pumping Iron penetrated the mainstream, they sparked a newfound interest in bodybuilding. People started watching the big events and wondering about these products called supplements. Slowly but steadily, a range of health foods and supplements has flooding local gyms, fitness clubs, and food stores. After all, supplements had and still have one advantage over real food: they are an instant solution.

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The big bang

The real boom took place only in the ’90. Bodybuilding and nutrition have established themselves as paragons of the fitness industry, lucrative sectors that embraced supplements. Take creatine, for instance. It was completely obscure prior to this time, and yet it has managed to take gyms and supplement racks by storm. Whey protein is an even more peculiar case: it was sold as pig feed for years before it was recognized as a supplement that could be consumed by humans.

This brings us to the importance of education, another mainspring of supplement popularization. It came in the form of best-selling books such as Bill Philips’ “Body for Life”, that advocated the use of supplements, with telling “before and after photos”. Then, we witnessed the advent of fitness magazines. The likes of Muscle & Fitness or Flex were selling like hotcakes, and millions of people worldwide were given a chance to familiarize themselves with workout concepts and tools.

New heights

Finally, the Internet was born, and it launched the fitness industry into the stratosphere. Online supplement stores have attracted a slew of new customers and products were only a few clicks away. Renowned websites like Bodybuilding.com came into existence and are still utilized as incredible sources of information. Likewise, social media networks have prompted people to see gyms in a new light, as hangout places, crown jewels of a healthy, exciting lifestyle.

It also helped that the products became more varied and numerous. As you may know, besides protein, today we have branched-chain amino acids, essential fatty acids, glutamine, testosterone boosters, vitamins, and many others. And believe it or not, due to the technological leaps and bounds and products like fat binders, we can do with almost no water. I was curious about this marvel called XLS Medical and it would be an understatement to say that I am satisfied with the results.

So, do not hesitate to do your research. Just remember that you need to keep your eyes open for misleading labels that are not such an uncommon sight in the supplement industry. In a nutshell, supplements are not nearly as bad as some portray them to be, but they are also far from a silver bullet. Thus, stay on the safe side and use them smartly. Bear in mind that they should be used as bridges to overcome nutrient gaps, not to pave your entire way to nutritional greatness.

Time to tool up

As long as they are used in moderation, supplements are an essential tool in any fitness arsenal. They help us achieve our goals faster, whether we want to lose weight, improve our athletic performance, build muscles or boost endurance. It was not always so, but the surge in the ’90 has changed the face of both fitness and the supplement industry forever. They are bigger than ever, and show no signs of slowing down. Naturally, wholesome food is still the bedrock of physical greatness, but do not shy away from using supplements to patch up your diet.

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