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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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Killarney man to launch second Irish history book

By Sean Moriarty Killarney native Patrick O’Sullivan Greene will launch his second book in the Great Southern Killarney on December 2. O’Sullivan Greene explains Éamon de Valera’s mission to gain […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Killarney native Patrick O’Sullivan Greene will launch his second book in the Great Southern Killarney on December 2.

O’Sullivan Greene explains Éamon de Valera’s mission to gain recognition for the newly formed Irish republic in New York in 1919 in his latest book ‘Revolution at the Waldorf: America and the Irish War of Independence’.

Without American recognition and funding the young Irish Government was sure to fail against the might of the British Empire and the book tells the story of how de Valera and Ireland-based Michael Collins – much to the defiance of the British authorities at Dublin Castle – got the new State off the ground.

O’Sullivan grew up in New Street and is now based in Beaufort after a career in finance took him all over the world including Dublin, London, New York and France.

“Killarney is the natural place for me to launch the book,” he told the Killarney Advertiser.

“There will be an interesting mix of people there.”

O’Sullivan Greene published his first book, ‘Crowdfunding the Revolution: The First Dáil Loan and the Battle for Irish Independence’, in 2020.

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Caring group craft charity blankets

By Michelle Crean One community group have shown that they care deeply for others by crafting handmade blankets for charity. Using their range of skills and some colourful wool, members […]

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By Michelle Crean

One community group have shown that they care deeply for others by crafting handmade blankets for charity.

Using their range of skills and some colourful wool, members of Kilcummin Community Care worked together to make blankets for service users on the Kerry Cork Cancer Health Link Bus.

“Each blanket is assigned as a personal gift to the clients using the Cancer Link Bus and is kept by them,” Kate Fleming, Chairperson of Kilcummin Community Care, said.

The knitting of the squares to make the blankets began at a gathering in the Rose Hotel in 2018. It was a gathering of different volunteer groups.

The Kerry Cork Cancer Health Link Bus were requesting knitted squares to make blankets for the clients who were using their facilities, she explained.

“Kilcummin Community Care were knitting at the time, so it was decided to help out this worthy cause. We received donations of wool from people in the parish and surrounding areas. Kilcummin ICA also got involved in the efforts.”

During the two years of COVID-19, members of both organisations continued to knit and are still knitting to the present day.

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