When talking to other people regarding diet, this is one of the questions I am asked the most. And my answer is always “It depends”. It depends on so many factors. Level of your competition, finance, health history, and specific sporting needs to name a few. One thing that is worth remembering is that supplements don’t make a training programme. You need to work hard, recover well, and do everything else properly. Supplements, if you are lucky, might add that little extra bit that is missing.
Having said that, I am a huge fan of supplements, and I myself have experimented with a lot of them. I think they have their place, and I think everyone that is interested in improving heir performance should use them, just to varying degrees. I will use an example to illustrate my point. Lets say you don’t want to take supplements, but you have been reading about the possible ergogenic effect of supplements. You had read that caffeine and creatine definitely work, and you want to hit around 2g of protein per kg of body weight per day (and you weigh 80kg, so need 160g of protein). To get your 160mg of caffeine, you are going to need to drink two cups of standard coffee. Which is easy enough, but not in the middle of your work out. A caffeinated carb gel might be better here. You want 10g of Creatine per day- that’s 2kg of steak (in practice even more, as creatine is damaged by cooking). And 160g of protein? Well, that’s 700g of chicken (you could include the protein from the steak, but I’m trying to illustrate my point!).
So, it is possible to do it without supplements, but not very convenient, and it requires a high food volume and calories. This is even without looking and vitamins and minerals, which most people probably don’t get enough of anyway. In a later blog post I will look at other factors to consider when selecting your supplement regime