Nutritional Supplementation and the Research


Supplements often get a “bad rap!”


To be honest, sometimes it’s deserved.  There are a lot of bad products on the market full of stimulants and other questionable ingredients.


But, sometimes supplementation is unfairly maligned by a research study.


One of the more interesting aspects about the research conducted on nutritional supplementation is that it’s often biased or just plain wrong.


Many coaches, trainers and athletes began to question the research on nutritional supplements 20 years ago because so much of it seemed, in their eyes, to be incorrect, inaccurate or totally disingenuous.


After a little digging, a few things became apparent.  The research results, weren’t necessarily wrong.  But, quite often, what was wrong was the design of the research study, itself.


Here’s an Analogy:


Imagine the researchers take a bunch of average drivers and put them into a Formula One Race Cars — which, of course, none of them know how to drive — and then declare that Formula One Race Cars are “no good” because they do NOT help average people improve their driving.


This same type of thing happens when testing nutritional supplements. The researchers often test the wrong audience.  In our case, its the mass consumer.  


Research on supplementation rarely addresses the nutritional needs of the athlete or fitness enthusiast.  And, even then, like in the case of protein supplementation, the premise is incorrect  —  thus affecting and invalidating the entire research project.


Protein and Athletic Performance…


For example, a recent protein study concluded protein supplementation did NOT enhance athletic performance.


Well, right off the bat, “athletic performance” is NOT the role of protein.


Among competitive athletes and fitness enthusiasts the role of protein supplementation is muscle recovery.  The ability to get up tomorrow and do it again.  This is why most athletes supplement with protein directly after training or an event.  To recover.


And even if the performance did improve, it would most likely be due to better technique, increased training or something else totally unrelated to protein consumption.


A better research study would have put everyone on protein supplementation as a “control” and then abruptly terminated intake as a way to determine the effect of muscle recovery with or without protein.


Athletic performance has nothing to with supplementation.  It has everything to do with proper baseline fueling, sleep and training techniques.


Same with Glucosamine…


In the case of glucosamine, a recent research study reported that glucosamine and chondroitan “do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space.” 


Most good glucosamine products include an anti-inflammatory like MSN and other ingredients to address some joint pain.  But, glucosamine and chondroitan, by themselves, do not provide pain relief.


And narrowing of joint space?  We’ve never actually seen that claim on a glucosamine product.


Plus, again, these researchers most likely tested a completely different universe of people with very little blood flow to their joints, tendons, ligaments and bones.


This is important because blood (the circulatory system) is the delivery system for glucosamine.  This is why physical therapists put you on a bicycle to rehab after knee surgery.  It’s not just range of motion.  It’s getting blood to the joint to help with the recovery.


If there’s no blood flow to the muscle tissue there is NO delivery of the product.  Most athletes, because of the very nature of their activity have excellent blood flow and do quite well with glucosamine.


Supplements with a Purpose


I hope you find this information helpful. 


And, if your nutrition plan calls for super, high-quality supplementation, I hope you’ll give my formulas a try.