Nutritional supplements for general population clients

Nutritional supplements come with the promise of increased performance and improved body composition without needing to change any other variables of your current regime.

I’ve chased this promise, using a tonne of supplements including protein, creatine, branch-chain amino acids, spirulina, L-carnitine, casein, ZMA complex and pre-workout powders.

That might sound like a crazy list, but the majority of those are different kinds of proteins or amino acids; ZMA is zinc and magnesium - commonly supplemented vitamins; and pre-workouts efficacy comes from caffeine.

Whilst it’s all harmless nutrients that are otherwise consumed in the diet, the intention of supplementation is to increase levels of a specific nutrient to elicit increased performance or improved body composition.

The supplements I tend to use do have this impact and have been proven effective for increasing performance for elite athletes using quality research.

But this research on elite athletes doesn’t necessarily translate into the same improvements for general population clients such as myself.

A 0.5% increase in performance for an elite power athlete such as a track cyclist can be the difference between winning a gold medal and winning nothing at all.

Contrast this to a 0.5% improvement in a 5km jog which will be barely noticeable.

General population spend very little time working at the top-end of their physical performance, where the 0.5% improvement begins to make a difference on sporting, and even life, outcomes.

In most cases, nutritional supplements is not necessary and the most important consideration is can we get that result with supplementation, which is almost always yes.

Therefore, the majority of my client use very few supplements in their regime, with the exception of using protein powder to hit protein intake targets

But the topic of supplements comes up frequently when talking with clients and other people, so this week I want to give the context behind the most-common supplement people ask me about.

Tom Fitzgerald