(Photo Courtesy of European Food Safety Authority) “Food supplements are shown in spoons.”
Many college students have fitness goals, including bulking, cutting, gaining muscle, improving cardiovascular endurance and so on. Yet, they do not know the best ways to achieve those goals. Some college-age fitness experts say supplements are an effective way to help students reach their goals.
According to the European Food Safety Authority, supplements are concentrated sources of nutrients that contain minerals, vitamins and proteins that some believe help enhance a user’s health and fitness level. They come in pills, tablets, capsules and liquids in measured doses. Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts use supplements to improve their health and physique.
Fitness enthusiasts say that whey protein and creatine are two of the best options for students looking for a good starter pack. Matt Storace, fitness director at Best Fitness Drum Hill in Chelmsford, highly recommends whey and creatine. “I’m a big believer in those because they have the most research and studies programmed on them for their effectiveness and their safety,” he said.
As long as students do not have any “existing health issues,” Storace says he believes whey and creatine are safe and effective for use.
Storace says creatine is effective in building muscles. “It helps your muscles hold water, which is going to make you stronger and recover faster in the gym,” he said.
To achieve the full effectiveness of supplements, like creatine, Storace says students’ exercise and diet must be “dialed in.” While supplements are effective, nutrition and exercise are more important. “If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, and you’re not in a calorie deficit, it doesn’t matter what supplements you take, you’re not going to lose any weight, and it’s the same thing if you’re trying to gain muscle. If you’re not in a calorie surplus, it doesn’t matter when supplements you’re taking,” he said.
In other words, Storace said that proper eating is crucial for supplement use, as it is a supplement to food. Storace said he believes that muscle growth will improve with good use of food and supplements.
Storace says supplements can come in handy for college students who are busy or do not have kitchens in their dorm. When he was in college, he used supplements as a food substitute. “The last thing I want to do is make breakfast at six in the morning. You know that’s when your protein shake can be handy,” he said.
Felipe Rios, a UMass Lowell student and fitness trainer at Best Fitness Drum Hill, also recommends whey protein. “As a personal trainer, and through many obstacles that I went through, I kind of realized that the best supplements to use in the gym are whey protein,” Rios said. However, he advises not to combine them with diets that consist of sugar with saturated fats, as that will stunt your progress.
Rios said he struggled with his diet before he became a trainer. He said he struggled to put on weight and muscle until he realized he needed high proteins, carbohydrates and grams. With the use of supplements, he saw results. “I did so many diets throughout high school, which didn’t work, but when I went through that phase, that’s when I kind of realized that it’s the only answer,” Rios said.
Not all students want to use supplements to gain weight. For those students, trainers recommend a few different workouts. Evan Walsh, a college student and Best Fitness Drum Hill member does a lot of cardio, particularly high-intensity interval training (HIIT). He said it has been effective in losing weight. “I was like 240 pounds like a year ago, and I started doing HIIT workouts like 3-4 times a week, and I dropped around 20 pounds since,” he said.
Trainers say the best way to get supplements is from a local gym. As a college student, Rios gets supplements from Best Fitness. “The best place to get your supplements is your local gyms. Gyms usually have the best recommendations, as personal trainers know a lot about high protein. So, we kind of pushed out a lot towards our clients,” Rios said. He also recommends supermarkets or big chain markets like Walmart or Target.
Trainers say students can also get supplements online. For example, Amazon offers a variety of supplement-related products. For college students with a tight schedule, ordering online is an efficient way to save time.
While fitness experts recommend supplement use, they emphasize consistency in diet, nutrition and exercise. “The only way to see results is to have consistency in all phases of your goals,” Storace said.