Buying Supplements - What, When, Why?
Buying supplements sometimes can be very confusing even for experienced athletes. What people often forget is the fact that people were strong and well built even 50 years before, when supplement industry was not worth zillions of dollars/euros per year ...
Real Food is Real Food
If someone wants to be lean, strong and healthy, one must eat properly. And properly eating means eating real food, not just powders and pills. Sure, one can get almost all macro and micro nutrients consuming various shakes and pills, but in the end, real food is what builds great bodies.
There some diets that are based on protein shakes and smoothies, but these are very specific diets and they last only limited amount of time, for example Weight Loss Liquid Diet. Also, they can be expensive, but good, high quality supplements when bought in larger quantities are relatively cheap.
When people say 'shakes', most people consider Post Workout Meal (PWM) shakes. If you are eating properly, then you probably eat 5-6 times per day - some 35-42 meals per week. If you workout 3-4 times per week, that is 3-4 PWM shakes per week. Now, what is more important, those 35-42 proper meals or those 3-4 PWM shakes per week?
Consuming real foods is also very important psychologically - chewing is very important, especially if you are on a calorie restricted diet, with or without MRP shakes. How important? If you are on the run and you drink few MRP shakes per day, then you will highly appreciate any solid food that you consume ... Don't trust me? Go for Weight Loss Liquid Diet (great fat shedding diet, but ...) and after few days I will ask you how about one lean steak and steamed mixed veggies ...
Our supplement stashes vary greatly, depending on personal preferences, sponsorships, goals etc.
Often, supplements like whey protein and similar are not even considered as supplements, but as food :o)
Personally, after the gym it is much easier to make and drink PWM shake consisting of whey protein, some fast carbs, creatine, BCAA, glutamine etc than steamed hake fillets with rice. But, what is better? IMHO, both - drink PWM shake right after workout and then some 60-90 minutes after that eat steamed lean fish with rice or pasta. It would be very hard to 'scientifically' proof what is better of those two - one should measure levels of amino acids, glucose, insulin etc in the blood stream after those two meals and then somehow verify status of muscle fibers (regeneration level, size, cell activities etc) in order to 'scientifically' determine what is better. And one can see that I use quotation marks with word 'scientifically', since results of many 'scientific studies' are more or less determined by those who are funding the studies - not very ethical, but ...
People don't respond equally to the same supplements - nor we have the same taste. For example, I prefer chocolate flavors, while some people prefer 'fruity' flavors of various powders (whey protein, MRPs, joint support supplements etc.).
When buying new supplements or new flavors, ask for sample packs. Especially if you buy supplements regularly from the same store and people already know you. And whey you make some larger on-line order, expect some sample packs in your order - if you don't get any sample packs after order or two, consider changing your supplier. But, even when ordering on-line, many on-line shops give you opportunity to add a comment to your order - then feel free to add line something like:
I have tried 'XYZ' supplement, Chocolate flavor. Do you have any sample pack of Vanilla flavor?
When your supplier gets note like this, he/she will really try to keep you as customer and provide you with sample packs you asked for or, at least, with some similar sample pack.
This can save you some money and plenty of nerves in the future. Not to mention that after some time, your supplier will regularly add various sample packs into your order - they want to keep you as customer and you want to know what are you buying ...