The truth about shop Vitamins and more...

  • By richard watson
  • 14 Sep, 2016

Top 10 Supplement Facts You Probably Didn't Know

The truth about vitamins

It is ironic that in this age of information, people continue to be confused about supplements. While in The UK alone, billions of pounds sterling are spent annually on vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and other nutritional products, studies still show that people in all walks of life (including fitness professionals) need a good foundation in basic supplement information to help them make informed decisions about which products might best suit their individual needs. Because of this, the following is a list of what I feel are the top 10 supplements facts that can help save you time and money - and get the most out of the products you use.

Fact #1. Natural vitamins are not better than synthetic vitamins.

A common mistake made not only by the general public but also by many fitness professionals as well is that vitamins made in nature are superior to synthetically-made vitamins. The fact is that the chemical structure of synthetic and natural vitamins is basically identical. In other words, synthetic vitamin C looks the same as natural vitamin C. This means that your body cannot tell the difference between them. In some instances, the absorption of vitamins can differ between natural and synthetic, but this does not always favour natural vitamins. For example, folic acid, common among prenatal vitamins, is actually the synthetic version of the B vitamin, folate. Folic acid is used in prenatal vitamins because it is better absorbed.

Fact #2. Soy can help reduce cholesterol levels.

Many people have heard that soy may help cholesterol levels but most have no idea how much might help. For soy to have an impact on cholesterol, studies show between 25 to 50 grams of soy per day is going to be needed. So, those who are supplementing with soy-containing foods and/or supplements and not seeing a reduction in cholesterol may simply not be eating enough. Most soy products in the UK list the amount they contain on their labels, which makes it easy to track how much soy you are getting.

Keep in mind that most research for soy reducing cholesterol is on people who eat soy-containing foods. This leaves open the possibility that isolated soy ingredients , often found in supplements, may not have the same effect as eating soy itself. Regardless, if soy is going to help, it is important to combine it with a diet that is also low in saturated fat to obtain the best results.
food supplements
Choosing the right supplements

Fact #3. Vitamins do not give us energy.

Some people may take massive amounts of vitamins (especially B vitamins) in the hopes that they will provide more pep to get through hectic days. This is why you often see a lot of B vitamins in energy drinks. However, a problem arises when it becomes known that vitamins do not contain any usable energy (calories). Vitamins do help us extract energy from food and process it. In a malnourished person, such vitamins may indeed help, but for those who eat an even halfway decent diet, vitamins alone are unlikely to improve energy levels. Remember, vitamins and food work in concert with each other to keep us healthy and provide us with the energy we need.

Fact #4. Glucosamine may help arthritis.

Many studies over the last several years found that glucosamine may help reduce arthritis-related pain. For glucosamine to work, you must have osteoarthritis. Of the over 100 types of arthritis known to exist, osteoarthritis is the most common and results when the cartilage between bones wears away. This is the type of arthritis that responds to glucosamine. While the degree of osteoarthritis and length of time you have it may impact success with this nutrient, studies tend show that four to eight weeks of glucosamine supplementation may be needed before results are observed. For best results, look for glucosamine sulfate as this form has the most evidence that it might help.

Fact #5. Natural does not always mean safe.

A common mantra repeated on many web sites today is that because supplements are natural, they are automatically safe for everyone. On the contrary, some supplements, if used by the wrong people may have significant side effects. For example, St. John’s wort, which is typically used for depression, may interact with not only antidepressant drugs but also those used to treat cancer and AIDS. Vitamin E might reduce the blood’s ability to clot. This is the reason why doctors typically tell their patients to stop using vitamin E before surgery. While many supplements are indeed safe, it is also true that people should know what they put in their bodies.

Fact #6. To build the most muscle, eat your protein after working out.

Frequently, I am asked the question, “When is the best time to eat protein, before or after exercise?” While your body will absorb protein no matter when you eat it, new research suggests that after exercise may be better than before exercise. In a study of older individuals who lifted weights, researchers found that people who ate protein immediately after exercise built more muscle than seniors who ate protein two hours later. While this study investigated the effects of protein and strength training in seniors, there is little reason to doubt that the same effect would not be seen in younger persons. If you like to eat protein before exercise, that’s fine. Just remember to also eat some protein (and carbs) preferably within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise to get the best results.

Fact #7. The government does regulate supplements.

It’s often stated that the UK government doesn’t regulate supplements. In reality, it does, but the regulations are different than those used for medications. The government has a very lengthy definition to describe what can and cannot be called a “supplement.” While this does allow for a wide range of products to be sold, the definition does have limits. For example, some hormones are not permitted to be sold as supplements. Another stipulation is that supplement companies cannot make specific claims that a product can treat or cure any diseases or conditions. Doing so might confuse people and make the product appear to be like a drug.

In contrast, supplement labels can list what are called structure/function claims. These claims make reference to how a supplement is involved in helping the body. For example, the claim that a supplement helps keep bones strong is a structure/function claim. Structure/function claims are pretty easy to identify because they usually contain words like supports aids or maintains.

Fact #8. You CAN absorb more than 40 grams of protein at a time.

There is an urban legend circulating through some fitness circles that maintains that people can only absorb a certain amount of protein per meal. Usually, people say this amount is about 40 grams. This may be why some protein bars and shakes usually do not contain much more than this amount. Regardless, while we can indeed utilize more than 40 grams of protein per meal, the real question is whether or not all of that protein is going to build and maintain muscle. This is a much harder question to answer and depends on your exercise routine, how often you work out and how much rest you get, to name a few.

Fact #9. Extra vitamins will not make you a better athlete.

While a good quality multivitamin is probably something to consider, many studies have found that extra vitamins do not make people stronger, faster or improve any exercise-related activity. As a rule, people who exercise regularly tend to eat more food and make healthier food choices overall. Food is also a very good source of vitamins. So the more food people are eating, the more vitamins they tend to eat as well.

Fact #10. Even if you eat a healthy diet, you might still benefit from supplements.

Sometimes people email me and ask, “Do I need supplements if I eat well”? It turns out that the answer appears to depend on who you are. Research shows that some supplements may benefit certain groups of people when used above what is normally consumed in a typical diet. For example, it is well known that as people grow older, they tend to eat less. This can have disastrous consequences by leading to muscle and strength loss and a reduced quality of life. Some new research is finding that the branch chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) can stimulate appetite in older adults. Potentially, if you can stimulate appetite, this might lead to stronger muscles and a better chance of remaining independent to a ripe old age. Another example is the amino acid glutamine. Studies tend to show that when consumed at higher amounts than is normally eaten, glutamine may lead to shorter hospital stays and increased body weight in some cancer patients.

There is no doubt that for most people, a balanced diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and grains is still a great first step to staying healthy. For those who have special needs or concerns or who want to see what else they can do to stay fit, a quality-made supplement may be something to discuss with your physician.


  1. Anderson JW et al. (1995). Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids. New England Journal of Medicine, 333,5,276-282.
  2. Cannon, Joe (2006). Nutritional Supplements: What Works and Why. A Review from A to Zinc and Beyond.
  3. Dietary Supplement Health and Education act of 1994.
  4. Esmarck B et al. (2001). Timing of postexercise protein intake is important for muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in elderly humans. Journal of Applied Physiology 535,1,301-311.
  5. Kleiner, S. (1998). Power Eating. Human Kinetics.
  6. McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., Katch, V. L. (1999). Sport & Exercise Nutrition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
Richy F et al. (2003). Structural and symptomatic efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin in knee osteoarthritis: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine, 163,1514-1522.

In The Zone

By richard watson 10 Apr, 2017

There has been a huge increase in interest in cycling over recent years as more people become aware of the health and fitness benefits’ cycling achieves, as well as its advantages as a fast and economical means of transport. Studio cycling has also grown and has been identified as one of the most popular group exercise formats in clubs worldwide.

By richard watson 01 Mar, 2017

Good bacteria can help you lose weight

For every probiotic evangelist there are several that sneered at the idea that these ‘good bacteria’ products did anything other than leave a big whole in your pocket. But according to a recent study, probiotics are very much more than a health food gimmick.

Probiotics, which are available as yoghurts, drinks and pills, contain so called ‘good’ bacteria that manufacturers claim aid digestive health and boost the immune system.

But the jury remained out – until now when a study has found that they do have many health benefits, including proving effective medicines and helping to control weight.

But you need to need to use the probiotics every day to see any benefits and you should be mindful of the sugar content (it’s best to opt for a pill over yoghurt) which will negate any of the benefits.

By richard watson 06 Feb, 2017

The definition of motivation is that which gives the impetus to behaviour by arousing, sustaining and directing it towards the successful attainment of goals. Abraham Maslow (1954) proposed that we all have a hierarchy of needs, the most basic being physiological needs such as food, and the highest needs being those related to self-fulfillment. Motivation directs behaviour – it organizes behaviour towards a particular goal state. It maintains behaviour until that goal is achieved.


The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 26 miles and 385 yards that is usually run as a road race. The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 500 marathons are contested throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes. Larger marathons can have tens of thousands of participants.

By richard watson 05 Jan, 2017

Although, all of the information that is presented in this article is geared toward the benefits and/or effectiveness of anaerobic high intensity interval training (HIIT) vs. low intensity aerobic training with regards to fat utilization, there is an understanding that some reasons for aerobic training supersede the outcomes. For the sake of pure enjoyment, personal goal setting (training for a triathlon, marathon, road race, etc), and the challenge of competition are all viable and respectable reasons for interacting with long slow distance (LSD) activities. For many people these types of activities are suitable for their lifestyle and enjoyable means of living an active life. The goal of this article is not to discount or diminish the value of physical activity in all its modalities, but to merely present data with regards to optimum fat loss, hormonal indicators, and other factors of cardiovascular and cardio respiratory markers as they pertain to exercise intensity prescription.

By richard watson 01 Nov, 2016
Cancers are classified as a family of related diseases that result from uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells5 that usually become a tumor. The most common causes of cancer related deaths in the United Kingdom are seen in Figure 1 below.The evidence linking low levels of physical activity and an increased potential for development of cancer is growing. More studies are focused on determining if physical activity can be used as a preventative measure in the incidence of cancer.

Figure 1: The 9 Most Common Causes of Cancer Death in 2014

Number of Deaths per Year, All Ages, UK

Cancer Site                Male           Female       Persons
Lung (C33-C34)       19,563       16,332         35,895
Bowel (C18-C20)       8,566          7,337         15,903
Breast (C50)                       73        11,360        11,433
Prostate (C61)          11,287                               11,287
Pancreas (C25)           4,426          4,391           8,817
Oesophagus (C15)   5,213          2,577          7,790
Bladder (C67)              3,614          1,755          5,369
Brain                                2,881          2,342          5,223
Liver (C22)                    3,055          2,036          5,091
By richard watson 05 Oct, 2016

In the world of endurance, it seems that you cannot discuss fitness without discussing VO2 max. Ask any endurance athlete about it, and you will hear epic stories with names like Indurain, and LeMond. Many of you, however, may find yourselves wondering what exactly VO2 max is and why is it so important. To better understand this concept; let’s take a little trip back to school, specifically back to physiology class. According to the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning textbook, VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen in millilitres one can use in one minute per kilogram of body weight (ml/kg/min). In other words, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) is the greatest amount of oxygen that can be used at the cellular level for the entire body. VO2 max has been found to correlate well with an individual’s degree of physical conditioning and has been accepted as an index of total body fitness. Numerous studies show that one can increase his/her VO2 max by working out at an intensity that raises the heart rate to between 65 and 85 percent of its maximum, for at least 20 minutes, three to five times per week. The estimated mean value of VO2 max for male athletes is about 3.5 liters/minute and for female athletes is about 2.7 liters/minute.

By richard watson 14 Sep, 2016

It is ironic that in this age of information, people continue to be confused about supplements. While in The UK alone, billions of pounds sterling are spent annually on vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and other nutritional products, studies still show that people in all walks of life (including fitness professionals) need a good foundation in basic supplement information to help them make informed decisions about which products might best suit their individual needs. Because of this, the following is a list of what I feel are the top 10 supplements facts that can help save you time and money - and get the most out of the products you use.

By richard watson 27 Jul, 2016

Caffeine is one of the most heavily researched and beneficial ergogenic aids available. It is mostly consumed in coffee, with 1 cup containing around 75mg of caffeine. The understanding of the performance effect of caffeine has increased and this has widened its use. Most people know that “caffeine may improve performance” but what does it actually do and how can we make the most of caffeine?

Caffeine is classified as a stimulant and is the most common drug used in the world. Caffeine crosses the membranes of all the body's tissues. It can wield effects on the central nervous system and the peripheral tissues that result in physiological effects. Studies have shown that caffeine can help an athlete perform better. It has been shown to be a powerful ergogenic aid that is beneficial in athletic performance and training. Caffeine has been shown to increase speed and power output, improve the length an athlete can train, and assist the athlete in resisting fatigue. Caffeine has also been proven to stimulate the brain which contributes to an athlete's clearer thinking and ability to concentrate harder on the task at hand.

By richard watson 08 Jul, 2016

You’ve seen it before, and you’ll see it again. You have been intensely training for months, but you start to mention that you haven’t slept well for weeks, and the stress is starting to get in the way of your performance. You may suspect you’ve overtrained, which is quite common among competitive athletes. While overtraining can occur in a variety of different ways, it typically results from a combination of hormonal, neuroendocrine, and nutritional imbalances, secondary to heavy training (Kreher, 2012).

Learing Objectives:

  1. Identify the signs and symptoms of overtraining.
  2. Determine ways to help your clients recover from overtraining.
  3. Understand the importance of training breaks in the prevention of overtraining.

By richard watson 10 Jun, 2016

Hamstring injuries are prevalent in many sporting and training environments. They are the curse of many top athletes and urban warriors alike and have a horrible tendency to recur with monotonous regularity.

In the past, rehab specialists and trainers may have fallen prey to the hypothesis that "if it keeps tearing, it must be tight and therefore needs a stretch."

In this article I would like to pose a different hypothesis. One that looks at the length-tension relationships between the hamstrings at the back of the pelvis and quads and hip flexors at the front of the pelvis. We’ll look at how this relationship can contribute to these types of injuries.

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