Growing up as someone not interested in working out, I had a lot of incorrect and stupid ideas about workout and gym culture. I specifically remember finding out someone I knew was drinking muscle milk and my friend made fun of them for taking steroids. Naturally and stupidly, I joined in.
I had it in my mind that if you’re using anything external to build muscle, then you’re cheating. As an adult, I look back ashamed at how I thought of people in the bodybuilding community. I had been fed a large amount of misinformation by friends who didn’t really know what they were talking about, and now that I work out myself, I’ve learned a lot of things.
I still find people with similar, uneducated ideas on supplements. So let’s unpack and tackle this stigma around them, see what they’re good for, how to use them, and try to understand why there’s so much miscommunication and misinformation out there!
Supplements are NOT Steroids — or Bad for You!
So first of all, let’s get something out of the way: regulated protein supplements are different than steroids. The contents of a supplement are in things you eat all the time, and they qualify more as food than anything else. Like all foods, too much or too little of certain vitamins, chemicals, proteins, and the like is bad for you. You need to stay nutritionally balanced.
So it comes down to what supplements you’re taking and how often, as well as what goals you have for working out. Ultimately, protein drinks and the like are natural supplements that help you meet your goals, and of course getting fit is good for you. Supplements don’t operate outside of your diet, they operate within it.
Steroids, on the other hand, involve chemicals that you wouldn’t normally ingest, like testosterone and HGH. These can have some negative effects, which have been highly documented.
Are Protein Supplements Worth Your Dollar?
For the majority of people who work out, protein supplements are probably worth their money, and yes, they work if you get the right kind. However they shouldn’t be all you use — the rest of your diet, as a healthy person, is extremely important. There’s so much more to building muscle than supplements — a protein-filled diet apart from supplements is as important as cutting sugars out.
Additionally, protein supplements will help your future workouts as well, edifying your routine and strengthening you for more progress. It’s a boost that is worth your dollar and will help you reach your goals a bit sooner, so it’s probably worth it. In reality, it isn’t all that expensive anyway.
Where Does This Stigma Come From?
I think that because of the little we are publicly told about steroids and supplements outside of national sports, there is the comparison of naturally made supplements with unhealthy steroids. Affecting your body chemistry to overproduce testosterone or HGH is one thing, but training it with supplements is similar to changing your diet. However our society doesn’t always know that because we do a bad job of teaching about nutritional values and why steroids are specifically bad for you.
I’m going to throw a little more shade as well. Some people argue not to use protein powder because of its whey base. Whey in moderate amounts is not terrible for you, though, and a bigger problem may be the lack of a well-balanced diet among body builders. If you are worried about it anyway, or you have dairy and gluten allergies, there are options to combat that. Writing supplements off all together is a bit ridiculous.
This is just what my research and my experience seems to tell me. I’d like to hear from your side of the coin though! What are your experiences with stigmas around workout culture, supplements, and the like? Let me know in the comments below!
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