‘Former Fat Boy’ offers supplement advice

Vinny Vasquez

Nutritional supplements are an industry of over $20 billion in this country, that’s over $20,000,000,000 if you need to see the zeros to get the picture. We have all seen the ads on magazines and even late night infomercials. Take these capsules or drink this mix and you’ll be ripped and muscular in absolutely NO time! Just like [insert professional athlete or celebrity].

Vitamins, minerals, protein powders,  ‘fat-burning’ pills, creatine and amino acids all fall under the dietary supplements category.

First of all, the supplement industry is a tricky thing. It is not regulated by the FDA like the pharmaceutical industry, so as long as your product doesn’t get anybody sick, and isn’t reported to the authorities, you can pretty much sell pills full of sugar. It doesn’t have to be proven to work at all, but the FDA needs to demonstrate it is harmful in order to take it off the market. By law, the manufacturer can’t claim its product will cure or treat any conditions, hence when phrases like “burns fat” or “promotes muscle growth” are used, somewhere in the label you will always find the following disclaimer:

“This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

Another dirty secret is the labeling of the ingredients. If you have a product that contains X, Y and Z ingredients, you can hide the real quantities of each one under what is considered as a “proprietary blend.” Originally conceived to protect companies from having their formulas copied by competitors, but often misused to hide the real quantities of the active ingredients in a product. It is not the most honest strategy, so for the most part, stay away from proprietary blends. If a product has solid, researched ingredients there should be no secret in how much of each it contains.

And then there are the before and after pictures. Nothing helps sales more than a real world transformation.

My transformation is real and has about six years of diet and exercise in between. However, you have to be skeptical next time you see a TV commercial or “special six-page ad report” on a magazine about the latest fat burner or muscle-building product. Using the same resources available to fashion magazines to make celebrities look unrealistically perfect, some of those before and after pictures are actually taken the SAME DAY. You would not believe what you can accomplish with professional lighting, make up and, most commonly, digital manipulation.

But despite all this, the current unregulated freedom is great for consumers because it gives us many options to pick from. Before making a purchase, consider the company’s reputation, why a product contains certain ingredients and how much there should be in it to be effective according to the scientific literature.

Always do your research before buying.

Vinny’s all-time favorite supplements

Fish oil, EPA/DHA. Study after study shows the wide array of benefits Essential Fatty Acids provide, from lowered inflammation to improved lipids profile and even possibly helping prevent depression.

Protein Powder. If you are lifting weights or work out often, extra protein is a must, remember they are the building blocks of muscles. Unless you have a pre-existent renal condition, it won’t hurt your kidneys. That’s a myth.

Caffeine. Found in your favorite coffee or soda and America’s most popular drug. ‘Nough said. A moderate stimulant to get you going, also helps release free fatty acids from fat cells and into the bloodstream to be oxidized.

Creatine monohydrate. The nutritional supplement most researched in the HISTORY of nutritional supplements, highly effective at building muscle mass and increasing strength when paired with a sound weight training program. Keep in mind that a percentage of the population may not respond to it, in which case the newer, “fancier” types of creatine products may be of value despite higher prices. If you tend to “bloat up”, you may just be taking too much. Lastly, you don’t need to “load up” or drink it with a ton of juice or sugar either.

Those are the basics. Have any questions? Hit me up at [email protected]