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Do you really need to take supplements?

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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.

Caffeine

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 angela@activate.ie.

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Leona named PRO of the year

By Sean Moriarty She is best known for promoting the county’s GAA news – and now Leona Twiss has been rewarded for her efforts. The Gaelic Games Writers’ Association named […]

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By Sean Moriarty

She is best known for promoting the county’s GAA news – and now Leona Twiss has been rewarded for her efforts.

The Gaelic Games Writers’ Association named Leona as its Public Relations Officer of the Year at an awards ceremony at Iveagh Gardens in Dublin on Friday night last.

Leona has been the PRO for Kerry GAA for the last five years but will have to step down this year due to County Board rules.

“I was speechless, it was wonderful to get PRO of the Year but I am only as good as the team around me and this success is attributed to the hard work of the entire PR team at Kerry GAA,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

As well as her busy schedule managing the media affairs for the Kerry County Board, Leona is also principal at Cullina National School in Beaufort.

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Any victory for Ukraine is important!

By Natalya Krasnenkova On the eve of the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, President Zelensky said “Ukrainians need victory – big and small”. That is why Ukrainians who […]

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By Natalya Krasnenkova

On the eve of the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, President Zelensky said “Ukrainians need victory – big and small”.

That is why Ukrainians who gathered around the world on Saturday night were waiting for Ukraine’s win in the song contest, just like the victory in the war.

The Ukrainians from the Innisfallen Hotel were waiting for that too and the overall winner, Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra, caused a real emotional storm in the hall!

“After my country’s victory at Eurovision, I felt proud, cried, laughed and couldn’t believe it. I am also grateful to everyone who voted for us, because this victory shows how much most European countries support us,” Iryna Melnychuk said.

“Voting around the world for Ukraine gives us hope for support from the world community not only in the Eurovision Song Contest,” said Stepan Krasnenkov.

The Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra received the highest number of points from the audience during the entire existence of the competition: 439 points from the audience, 192 points from the professional jury. In the end – 631 points, which brought Ukraine victory.

Also, thanks to the Kalush Orchestra, the whole world now knows about the humanitarian catastrophe in Mariupol and the Azovstal enterprises, where wounded Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are under blockade without food, water and medicine.

After their performance, Kalush Orchestra addressed the audience from around the world with a request to save the defenders of Mariupol, who are at the Azovstal plant.

“Please help Ukraine, Mariupol! Help Azovstal! Right now!” – the band called.

After these words, search queries for Azovstal and Mariupol took off on the Internet as people were looking for what they meant.

Irish Eurovision contestant Brooke also sang it and the whole world sings the song of the winners ‘Stefania’.

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