Hi all! I know it’s been a while but I’ve been running, trying to catch up with the life I’m trying to live. I’m still learning to multitask and not neglect the projects I’ve already started.
So, this post is a bit of a cautionary tale. Sometime in January, between being super busy and getting sick, I was not able to work out for a month. When I was able to go back, I struggled in the gym (this is why consistency in working out is important. You tend to regress.
I cried when I dropped down in weight on the squat rack). My energy also sucked. In order to return and surpass my former glory, I began to look into supplements I could use to increase energy. I’m a firm believer in natural options for strength and energy but I will use branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) supplements from time to time. BCAAs are three amino acids: Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine.
Amino acids aid in the promotion and growth of muscle mass while offering increased energy during workouts. Our bodies create some amino acids but due to diet and age, we tend to not have enough for protein synthesis and muscle growth. I’m an incredibly picky eater so I always have to find ways to keep myself from falling (literally. Your muscles can break down due to nutritional deficiency). That’s where BCAA or amino acid supplements can come in and help.
I’m pretty well versed in this it seems, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought when I walked into my local health and nutrition store to go buy my usual brand of BCAAs. However, I noticed that my usual brand (not going to use their name because we didn’t sign contract for advertising. Naija girl to the core) came out with a PRE workout mix. I was so excited that this trusted brand came out with a supplement I could drink PRIOR to working out so I could intensify my workouts. I read over the label and saw one ingredient that gave me pause: creatine. It is an organic acid that supplies energy to cells, mostly muscle cells. I had used a product in the past that had creatine and my body didn’t agree with it at all. But I thought, this new one here has less levels so I should be good right?
WRONG. Based on the fact that my body reacted negatively (most people get a tingling in their hands and feet when they consume suppplemental creatine but the tingling I experienced was excruciating.) should have been enough for me to drop the container, go home first and RESEARCH before purchasing. But I didn’t. I relied on the knowledge I had picked up here and there and bought the product.
Fast forward two months later and I’m back at the store to buy a new container. I was happy with the results IN the gym (I was beasting my workouts) but outside the gym, I wasn’t so impressed. I felt uncomfortably bulky and even though the tingling was manageable, it still occurred every time I drank the supplement. I told the cashier in the store what I wanted but then revealed to him how I felt. His response: Well yeah, creatine makes you gain weight. You didn’t know that?”
PAUSE. WAIT! WHAT?!
Nope. I didn’t know that really important fact. He went on to tell me that creatine binds water molecules to cells, causing your body to retain more water than it normally would. You’re also likely to be dehydrated because of this and drink MORE water. My brain was exploding as he talked. Because I didn’t take a little time to research, I was gaining weight I had NO interest in gaining, therefore sabotaging my efforts to lean out for the summer. I bought my regular plain old creatine-free BCAA supplement, went home, and got on my laptop to research properly.
Everything he told me was correct. My research also told me that women did not take well to creatine and had to be careful when consuming it. Also, human bodies already produce creatine so when you take a supplement with a noticeable level of it, production slows down. Meaning my energy production would be low which meant for the next couple of weeks, my workouts were SHIT. It takes a month for creatine productions to go back to normal and I’m finally reaching the month mark (Praise our Lord and Creator because it has been so painful trying to keep my workouts up to speed this past month)
So, my fellow readers, how do you make sure you don’t make Uchechi’s mistake?
Firstly, research ANY supplement or product you’re looking to consume. Check the ingredients and see if any of them have adverse affects, whether it’s a product barely cleared by your country’s Food Administration, and whether it accomplishes what you need it to help you accomplish.
Secondly, follow directions. If it says only one scoop, do that or less. Only attempt more when you’ve used the product for over a month or so.
Thirdly, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Sometimes, a product checks out but our bodies just don’t agree with it. Find another milder version and if that doesn’t bode well, leave it alone. Don’t push it. It will only hurt you not help you.
Many of these supplements are just that, supplemental products They are NOT substitutes for exercise and proper eating or meant to be utilized forever. They tend to be created for use during high intensity movements so using them on the days you’re lounging on the couch eating ice cream isn’t the best idea. Use accordingly and always do your research. The learning NEVER ends.
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