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Do you really need to take supplements?




By Angela Kerrisk from Activate Fitness

The question about taking supplements is something we often get asked during our nutrition consultations.

In an ideal world, we eat a diet rich in whole foods with a variety of different coloured fruits and veggies, quality protein and healthy fats. If this is the case, supplementation should not be necessary. However, we know in our ever-moving society, supplements can often be seen as convenient. The supplement industry is huge and continues to grow almost daily. Whether it be a multivitamin as a child, Vitamin C to fight off colds, protein powder to help hit our protein target, we’ve all likely taken some form of supplement in our life.

Protein Supplements

One of the most popular amino acid supplements is branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). We count one gram as one gram of protein. The theory behind these is that they help prevent muscle breakdown during intense exercise, however, does the research support this? Not all research has found positive benefits from a BCAA supplement. BCAAs will likely not have an impact on endurance, but a dose of six to 15 grams can help improve recovery following a hard training session. However, if you are consuming a diet high in protein and consuming a variety of different protein sources, BCAAs are not necessary.

Creatine is made naturally in the body and can be found in meat and fish, or taken in higher doses as a supplement. Hundreds of studies have been done on the effect of creatine supplements and much of these studies were done looking at anaerobic performance training. A little more than half of the studies report a positive effect on performance, while the remainder showed no real effect.

Collagen is growing in popularity and is one of the most abundant proteins in the human body making up one-third of the total body protein mass. If your diet is high in collagen-rich foods such as beef, pork, poultry, fish, fish skin and shellfish, a collagen supplement is not necessary. Given that collagen is found in animal protein, it will not be appropriate if you are vegetarian or vegan. There are, however, vegan options available that are called "collagen boosters", although these do not have substantial evidence to support their claims at this time. Most importantly, if your main goal is muscle gain then this is not the best supplement for that purpose.

Powders, bars and ready-to-drink shakes

Typically, these supplements will include whey protein, soy protein, casein or a mixture of a few different proteins. These supplement products are meant to provide a high concentration of protein to supplement usual food intake. Most of us can meet our daily protein requirements from food choices; however, protein supplements may benefit those who have a particularly high protein requirement and/or cannot consume enough protein through food. You should be cautious when relying on too many shakes or supplements in order to hit your protein targets as this can lead to increased hunger. Shakes and supplements will not keep you as satiated as whole foods.

Carbohydrate Supplements

Energy gels consist of simple sugars. Generally, these come in squeeze pouches and will contain 18-25g of carbohydrates. So, do we need them? Energy gels are a convenient way to consume carbohydrates during prolonged endurance training, but they require around 350ml of water with each 25-gram carbohydrate gel pack. This looks like approximately six big gulps of water with half a gel pack every 15 to 30 minutes, which may not be convenient for everyone, particularly those who do not want to always carry a water bottle. If one does not drink enough water, they can end up with gelatinous goo in the stomach which pulls water from the blood-stream and can increase the risk of dehydration.

Micronutrient Supplements

A vitamin worth highlighting is Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. This is of particular importance for those athletes who train mainly indoors and get little sunlight exposure. There is a growing body of research that suggests deficiencies in Vitamin D reduce muscle function, strength and performance. Likewise, studies have shown that increased levels of Vitamin D may in fact enhance performance.


We may not think of caffeine as a supplement; however, it was once on the banned list from the World Anti-Doping Agency. It was removed from this list in 2004 because it was found that caffeine did not enhance performance more than everyday caffeine use. Caffeine increases alertness and concentration by acting on the central nervous system. This reduces the perception of fatigue. Low to moderate doses of caffeine produce positive effects, but higher doses of caffeine can have negative effects including increased heart rate, impaired fine motor control and anxiety and sleeplessness. Some people are more susceptible than others, so it's important that you monitor the way in which your body responds.

Although we would love for our clients to be eating a diet rich in whole foods and hitting their macronutrient targets by consuming a variety of different whole foods, we know this is not always the case and many times for convenience, clients may turn to supplements. The supplement industry is full of a variety of different claims and can be overwhelming for many to navigate. As nutrition coaches, clients often turn to us seeking guidance on supplements, however, if you suspect deficiencies this should be a discussion with your doctor. The message here is that supplements prescribed by a doctor are helpful for people with certain medical issues.

Eating more whole foods is our best bet for improving our health. As you can see from above a well-balanced diet will give you everything your body needs to enjoy life and work out. If you need any help contact me

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New  bio-energy therapy clinic open on Beech Road

Have you ever wondered what happens when you deal with an emotionally charged situation or experience high levels of stress daily? Your mind sends alarm signals to your body which […]




Have you ever wondered what happens when you deal with an emotionally charged situation or experience high levels of stress daily?

Your mind sends alarm signals to your body which must adapt to this emergency mode.

Muscles tense up, heart beats faster, vessels get compressed, blood pressure rises, body retains water etc. Most of us subject our bodies to this emergency mode without being aware of it.

Irina Sharapova MH has just opened a new Herbal Medicine and Bio-Energy Therapy clinic at Horan’s Health Store on Beech Road by appointment each Friday.

Both Herbal Medicine and Bio-Energy Therapy, support the body’s natural ability to heal.

During a herbal consultation the therapist suggests necessary corrections to the client’s diet and lifestyle aiming at reducing the elements that contribute to inflammation, stiffness and pain, and increasing the elements that aid healing.

Then they prepare herbal remedies specific to the client. Client’s medications are also examined to ensure that there are no conflicts with the herbal treatment.

Herbs support healing by relaxing the body and improving sleep; they are used to treat various ailments from digestive and reproductive issues to insomnia and migraines.

Bio-Energy therapy is a complementary non-contact treatment that helps to release tension from the body caused by injuries, traumas or stress.

During a Bio-Energy session the therapist scans the client’s body for signals that indicate that the energy is not flowing smoothly – these are the areas that have reacted to the Client’s emotions of fear, worry, hurt, anger, sadness etc.

The therapist “clears out” these areas until the energy flow feels smooth. Bio-Energy is helpful in the treatment of physical and emotional pain and other ailments.

It is suitable for people who do not like massages and other treatments that are performed directly on the body.

Disclaimer: Alternative therapies are not substitutes for medical advice.
For further information or to schedule an appointment please contact Irina at 086 9878941 or via email at Website:


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Spotted an otter lately?

Users of Killarney National Park are being asked to keep an eye out for otters – one of the country’s rarest mammals. The National Parks and Wildlife Service IS launching […]



Users of Killarney National Park are being asked to keep an eye out for otters – one of the country’s rarest mammals.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service IS launching a new National Otter Survey and has teamed up with researchers in Queen’s University Belfast and the National Biodiversity Data Centre to collect and collate otter records from right across the country.

The new survey will map otters and compare results to the last survey, carried out in 2010-11.

NPWS teams will be looking for characteristic signs of otters at over 900 sites throughout the country, including rivers, lakes and the coast.

Members of the public are asked to keep their eyes peeled for otters and to get involved in this national survey by adding their sightings to the survey results.

Otters are mostly active at night and most typically seen at dawn or dusk. They may be spotted from bridges swimming in rivers or along the rocky seashore.
Otters are brown, about 80 cm (30 inches) long and can be seen gliding along the water surface before diving to show their distinctive long pointed tail which is almost as long again as their body.

Dr Ferdia Marnell, Mammal Specialist with the NPWS, said:

“The otter is one of Ireland’s most elusive animals so getting as many people involved in the survey as possible will be important if we are to get good coverage. Otters are rarely seen, so instead, over the coming months, NPWS staff will be searching for otter tracks and signs.”

Dr Ferdia Marnell, Mammal Specialist with the NPWS, said:

“Otters have large, webbed feet and leave distinctive footprints, but these can be hard to find. Fortunately, otters mark their territory using droppings known as spraints. Otters deposit spraints conspicuously on boulders along riverbanks, logs on lake shores or the rocky high tide line. Spraints can be up to 10 cm or 3 inches long, black through to white but commonly brown, tarry to powdery in consistency and straight or curved making them tricky to identify. Luckily, they commonly contain fish bones and crayfish shells which are the otters favoured diet making them easy to tell apart from the droppings of birds and other mammals.”

The otter and its habitat are protected under the EU Habitats Directive which requires that Ireland reports on the status of the species every six years. The next report is due in 2025.

The otter suffered significant declines across much of continental Europe during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s but remained widespread in Ireland. The most recent Irish survey (2010-2011) found signs of otter from all counties of Ireland and from sea-shore to mountain streams.

The otter hunts in water, but spends much of its time on land, and as a result is vulnerable to river corridor management such as culverting, dredging and the clearance of bankside vegetation, as well as pollution, pesticides, oil spillages, coastal developments and road traffic.

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