While supplements are not essential in the fitness world, many people take them for the perceived benefits such as increased performance and to maximize strength. While supplements may seem enticing when first getting on your health and fitness journey, it’s important to do your research before buying whatever your favorite influencer takes.
While supplements can be beneficial to your health, they are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness, which brings some potential health risks.
According to the Harvard health blog, tainted supplements are a huge problem and often go unseen. Between 2007 and 2016, researchers analyzed earnings issued by the FDA, which included 776 dietary supplements that contained contaminants (which included steroids or drugs with steroid effects in supplements marketed as muscle builder).
Around 20% of these contaminated supplements contained more than one unapproved ingredient. To make matters worse, the FDA announced recalls for less than half of these contaminated supplements.
Let’s Take a Look at Protein
When considering buying a protein powder, it’s crucial to look at the ingredients. Often there are additives, such as caffeine, sweeteners and creatine in powders that are not mentioned in advertisements. Some also contain artificial sweeteners, like sucralose or aspartame, which can be harmful if taken in large quantities.
Though, sometimes looking at the label isn’t enough. In 2018, an independent, nonprofit organization, Clean Label Project, did a study where they found that over 130 of the best-selling protein powders were tested for levels of pesticides, heavy metals bisphenol A (BPA) and other unsafe contaminants.
Around three-quarters of the powders tested contained detectable levels of lead and cadmium, which cause permanent health concerns, including kidney and brain damage. Also, about half of the powders contained detectable levels of BPA, which disrupts hormones and is linked to numerous health issues.
The study also found that products labeled as “organic” contained on average over two times the levels of heavy metals of conventional products.
When looking for a clean protein powder it’s important to do your research on the brand and the ingredients they use. VALLEY recommends:
Organic Vegan Protein Powder by Planet Protein, Inc.
This protein comes in two flavors, only contains 9 organic ingredients and is USDA certified organic, vegan and gluten-free. Their website also includes a nutrition label and heavy metal test results— shop it here.
A Look Into Pre-Workout
Pre-workout supplements serve the purpose of improving performance and increased energy.
Some of the common ingredients in pre-workout include nitric oxide precursors, a compound your body naturally produces to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow, caffeine and creatine, which is a chemical compound naturally found in the body that plays a role in energy production and muscular strength.
Pre-workout supplements also include some not favorable ingredients such as artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, which can cause intestinal distress and discomfort in some people.
Like protein powders, pre-workout supplements are not closely regulated, making product labels have the potential to be misleading or inaccurate. In return, you may consume banned substances or dangerous amounts of a certain compound in these supplements.
When looking for the cleanest pre-workout on the market, VALLEY recommends Ora organic pre-workout powder.
This product comes in three flavors, contains 90mg caffeine and is nitric oxide-boosting. Their website also includes a complete supplement label and their testing standards and the Certificate of Analysis for the pre-workout.