Last month, the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a report on the efficacy of popular ingredients found in sports-performance and weight-loss supplements.
I regularly warn you against taking these over-hyped, poorly formulated supplements because the science shows they just don’t work. And in some cases, they can even cause harm.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of the dietary supplement industry is NOT science-based. They put the wrong ingredients, in the wrong doses, in the wrong combinations, and in the wrong forms into over-hyped, over-priced pills. And they even omit the right ingredients backed by science. What a mess…
The mainstream “once-a-day” multivitamins are among the worst offenders. And two of the alternative health industry’s darlings — glucosamine/chondroitin (said to relieve joint pain relief) and gingko biloba (said to improve brain function) — just don’t cut it either.
So, as you might expect, the NIH team found little evidence supporting the use of sports-performance or weight-loss supplements. It’s a shame — this kind of bad PR muddies the water for all the tried-and-true, high-quality dietary supplements.
In total, the researchers examined evidence for 21 sports ingredients and 24 weight-loss ingredients. Overall, they found little-to-no evidence supporting the claims for 12 of the 21 sports ingredients and 14 of the 24 weight-loss ingredients.
Here are just a few supplements, which you should always avoid, that made it onto the NIH list:
- Protein powders & shakes
If there’s any one nutrient that needs to come from food, it’s protein. And the last thing you should take, for any reason, is protein powder or protein shakes.
Legumes, such as beans, certainly provide protein. But they often don’t contain complete proteins, meaning they lack some amino acids needed for human nutrition.
To effectively get what your body needs, eat the complete proteins most commonly found in dairy, lean meat, and seafood. These can be easily incorporated into your meals by following a balanced Mediterranean-style diet — which also includes nuts, extra virgin olive oil, fresh produce, and some whole grains and legumes. As you may know, I’m a strong advocate of this way of eating. (To read more about the health benefits from this style of diet, search my Daily Dispatch archives via www.DrMicozzi.com. Simply type “Mediterranean Diet” into the right-hand search bar.)
- Amino acids
Like protein powder, amino acid supplementation never made sense to me. Of course, amino acids are popular among bodybuilders and athletes trying to get an “edge.” But science shows amino acid supplements, such as arginine, do not improve strength or aerobic capacity.
Just get all your amino acids from the complete proteins in a balanced, healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet I mentioned earlier. In fact, if you get your protein from a natural source, you don’t even have to worry about amino acids. The same foods that contain protein, by definition, also contain necessary amino acids. (Hint: Proteins are chains of amino acids.)
And not all amino acids are good at high levels. For example, homocysteine is an amino acid you want to lower, as it plays a prominent role in the development of heart disease. Taking a high-quality B complex supplement can help you lower your levels. I recommend a daily supplement that contains at least 200 mcg of folate, 50 mg of B6, 12 mcg of B12, 50 mg of B2, and 50 mg of choline.
Creatine is one of the most popular sports-performance supplements. Some hard-core athletes supplement with creatine to supposedly improve physical performance. But according to the NIH report, the evidence is scant. Plus, it can cause weight gain.
Furthermore, a couple years back, I investigated a case of a doctor who died from taking creatine supplements. Cyanide poison is a byproduct of the way creatine is manufactured!
Your body actually naturally produces about 1 gram of creatine a day. And you can get some additional creatine from eating beef and salmon (about 500 milligrams in a 4-ounce serving). Your muscles also store it to supply them with energy.
So, once again, you’re better off eating meat and seafood on a regular basis to get your creatine.
- Probiotic supplements
Last week, I reported on the importance of building and maintaining a healthy microbiome, the environment in which trillions of healthy probiotic bacteria thrive in your GI tract. And it may lead you to wonder about taking any probiotic supplement, which typically contain several different strains of bacteria, depending on the brand.
My answer may surprise you…but no…you don’t need probiotic pills. The problem with them — as I’ve always said — is they just don’t work.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Your gut does need healthy bacteria. But, science shows that taking a probiotic supplement isn’t the best choice.
Instead, follow these six simple tips for naturally supporting your microbiome:
- Avoid antibiotics, which wipe out the healthy bacteria found in your microbiome.
- Avoid antibacterial soaps and gels, which disrupt your skin’s microbiome.
- Eat foods that can introduce new healthy probiotic bacteria to your gut, such as plain yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, Korean kim chi, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
- Eat foods that nurture your microbiome, including artichokes, barley, beans, green, leafy vegetables, and oats. They naturally support the growth of good bacteria already present in your GI tract.
- Avoid processed foods and sugary foods, which wipe out the good bacteria in your gut.
Looking for health in all the wrong places
The state of modern mainstream nutrition is just plain sad.
Science shows taking the right dietary supplements at the right dosages can indeed reverse and prevent a laundry list of chronic diseases including: Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Type II diabetes, high blood sugar, heart disease, premature aging, and even cancer.
But — this scientific research never really sees the light of day for consumers because the law says manufacturers can’t make any true health claims when they sell supplements.
In this upside-down, topsy-turvy world, the crazy law actually benefits the marketing companies that don’t care about the science and manufacture these junk weight-loss and sports supplements. And it harms responsible, science-based supplement companies and consumers.
You really have to wonder if it’s all intentional to keep people off effective supplements that prevent and reverse diseases — and on expensive and dangerous drugs instead.
In the end, you must take your health into your own hands by continuing to read my Daily Dispatch and Insiders’ Cures newsletter.
For example, in the September 2015 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, I reported on seven nutrients shown to effectively support your weight-loss journey.
Plus, if you’re a newsletter subscriber, you can refer to my free report, Top-of the-Food Chain Cure for Obesity, to see how simple changes to your diet can change — and even save — your life.
You can access both of these materials by logging into my website, www.DrMicozzi.com, with your username and password. (If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber, now’s the perfect time to become one.)
If you aim to build muscle and strength, skip the over-hyped, over-priced supplements and shakes. Instead, focus on eating whole, natural foods that contain protein with every meal.
P.S. – Don’t rely on the FDA or the natural products industry. Education is paramount, which is why you should be proud to be a Daily Dispatch reader.
For more natural techniques to improve your health and extend your longevity, check out my brand-new online protocol, The Insider’s Guide to Outsmarting “Old Age,” which was released over the weekend. Learn more or enroll today by clicking here.
“Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance,” National Institutes of Health (ods.od.nih.gov) 10/4/2017