How do sports supplements impact the body?

In the simplest sense, a supplement is something added to something else in order to complete or enhance it. In the context of sport and fitness, supplements can be used to enhance bodily functions and aid growth within the body. There is a range of different sports supplements available today, all purporting to impact the body in a positive way and help achieve the desired results. In this article, I take a closer look at what some of the most popular supplements do, and consider whether there really is a need to take them.

Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are one of the most popular supplements. The majority of fitness-focused people use on a daily basis, myself included, and they offer genuine benefits when used correctly to support your training. The mistake people usually make with protein shakes, however, is consuming them regardless of protein intake throughout the day from other sources. Another potential problem area is using them as a replacement for meals. This of course leads more onto the topic of nutrition, however, suffice to mention, it is important to familiarise yourself with the difference between standard protein shakes and meal replacement shakes. Protein shakes should generally be used as an addition to your daily diet if you are low on protein intake (depending on body weight, height, age, gender, etc.) and supply the body with amino acids.

When to take protein shakes

Protein shakes are most effective post-workout, to ensure that the muscle fibres can repair quicker. During workouts, muscle fibres are torn down and for them to be repaired, and for muscles to grow, it is essential for protein to be consumed after a workout.

Why do I need protein?

To assist in muscle recovery post-workout, and to ensure correct protein intake is hit each day.

How/which protein to use

The choice of protein is a very personal matter and may be affected by factors such as dietary requirements  – especially if you are vegan, for example. However, regardless of your preferences, try to always use high-quality protein from a trusted manufacturer. The best shake that I can recommend (through personal use) is Optimum Nutrition Chocolate Peanut Butter Whey Protein Powder, which can be consumed with milk or water (usually 1.5 scoops).


  • Aid muscle recovery & growth after a workout.
  • Standard whey protein powder contains 20g or over of protein, large amount to help assist alongside meals.
  • Increases muscle protein synthesis.
  • Convivence, quick source of protein.


  • Doesn’t cover all nutrients/vitamins etc.
  • Cannot be a meal replacement, has to work alongside.


Pre-workout is another very popular supplement that many people use to support their fitness regime. This supplement, in my own opinion, is not essential and even feels like a placebo effect (depending on which one you take). It does have the benefits of helping the mind and body be more prepared & alert to workouts, and pushing the body to exert more out of each session. With this in mind, it definitely helps if you go to the gym feeling tired, unmotivated etc, 

In my case, I always have an aim before I start my workout, and that’s what keeps me motivated throughout, but as always, it is hard to feel 100% every day, so I do understand the use of pre-workout.

When to take pre-workout

Pre-workout is best consumed 30mins before the actual workout so that it is given time to digest.

Why use pre-workout?

To ensure you are in the right mindset to perform an effective workout and to provide the mental ‘push’ to work harder during workouts.

How/Which pre-workout to use

The pre-workout that I am currently using is called Devst8, and I mix it with water (usually 1 full scoop).


  • Enhance performance of workouts.
  • Provide physical & mental confidence.


  • If taken too much, your body can become immune to the impact of pre-workout.
  • Can make you feel jittery and can cause interruptions in sleep/relax time.


Creatine is a substance that is found in muscle cells. It helps your muscles to produce energy during high-intensity workouts. I haven’t experimented with Creatine too much, however the majority of ‘gym goers’ that I know do, and it is of good use. It allows the body to exert more energy per session, helping you to improve exercise performance and enhance strength.

When to take creatine

The optimum time to take Creatine is just before or just after you exercise on days where you work out. On rest days, you can still consume Creatine but the timing isn’t that important. 

Why take creatine?

To make it simpler: Creatine gives your muscles more energy and leads to changes in cell function, that increases muscle growth.

How/Which creatine to take

Creatine is usually mixed with water (half a scoop, or 1 full scoop).


  • Improves muscular strength
  • Improves recovery time during/after workouts
  • Wipes out the effects of sleep deprivation (like caffeine)
  • Creatine contains 0 calories, meaning it has zero impact on your fat metabolism.


  • Can make you feel bloated, stomach pains.
  • Some claim that it is bad for your kidneys.


Casein is a slow-digesting dairy protein. It releases amino acids slowly and helps with recovery, reducing muscle breakdown while we sleep. Again, Casein isn’t a supplement that I’ve used extensively but for anyone looking to ‘bulk’, Casein can help as it holds water weight, which means you will weigh more. It is also very effective for muscle growth.

When to take casein

The optimum time to take Casein is before you sleep, to help with recovery and reduce muscle breakdown while you sleep.

Why take casein

To help with recovery and reduce muscle breakdown.

How/Which casein to take

Casein can be mixed with water or milk. It is made from milk.


  • Maintains & holds weight overnight
  • Help decrease muscle breakdown, in the absence of food.
  • Increases muscle gain.


  • Full of sugar.
  • Can make you feel bloated, and add on weight.


The role of a multivitamin is to fill nutritional gaps and to ensure you get your daily allowance of under-consumed nutrients like Vitamin A, C, D E and K. Again, I’ve never taken multivitamins but do understand the benefits of them, and also the disadvantages.

When to take multivitamins

Research suggests that multivitamins are best taken in the morning, on both workout and non-workout days. 

Why take multivitamins?

It’s important to hit all nutrients per day to ensure your body is reaching its health goals, and if you are working out – then to replenish the muscles used, resulting in an increase in muscle strength and growth.

How/which multivitamins to take

Multivitamins come in forms including pills, chewables and soluble forms that dissolve in water.


  • Healthy ageing.
  • To ensure you consume all the correct nutrients.
  • Boost’s immunity


  • You can get all nutrients from natural foods, so not always needed.
  • Can become reliant.

A final note

Please be aware that you should always consider seeking personalised advice from a medical professional before using any supplements. Always read the label and consume in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation.


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