While gym supplements can be beneficial for improving performance and helping individuals achieve their fitness goals, excessive use of these supplements can have harmful effects on the body. Recently, a Delhi youth who had a history of using gym supplements was hospitalised due to low oxygen levels, necessitating ventilatory support. The youth had extremely low calcium levels, which caused muscle breakdown. Moreover, the vast majority of athletes who take these drugs do so to improve their looks, well-being and beauty. But is it safe for healthy individuals to take such supplements?
We spoke to Dr Sundari Srikant, Director & HOD, Internal Medicine, Marengo QRG Hospital, who explained the risks, the right approach, and things to keep in mind when you start consuming supplements.
According to Dr Srikant, the potential risks of excessive use of gym supplements include, kidney and liver damage, cardiovascular problems, hormonal imbalance, digestive issues, and dehydration, among others. Many gym supplements, such as protein powders and pre-workout supplements, can put a strain on the kidneys and liver if consumed in excessive amounts. "This can lead to liver and kidney damage and even failure," explains Dr Srikant. "Often pre-workout drinks raise blood pressure and heart rate, putting strain on the cardiovascular system. This can cause several health problems, like heart disease and stroke."
What Is The Right Way To Use Supplements?
The right way of using gym supplements is to first ensure that you have a balanced and nutritious diet. The risks associated with excessive use may vary depending on the type and amount of supplement consumed. "If you do choose to use gym supplements, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian or physician, before starting any new supplement regimen. They can help in determining if a supplement is right for you and provide guidance on safe and effective use," Dr Srikant stated.
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Things To Keep In Mind
We must pay attention to any changes in the body, such as digestive issues or changes in energy levels, and adjust the supplement use accordingly. If the supplement causes you to experience changes in your body, you should stop taking it and talk to an expert doctor. Dr Srikant further advocates that we have seen people developing diabetes after taking these supplements, as some of them have steroids. "Some basic blood tests should be done to ensure things are ok before you hit the gym."
Supplements only work if you live an active lifestyle, such as exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough rest. You must remember that supplements are not a magic pill that will transform you overnight; they will only contribute 5 per cent to your fitness journey.
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Finally, if you use a supplement, start with a half dose and gradually increase the amount based on how your body reacts. Don't use a supplement for an extended period of time; instead, take a month off after consuming it for six weeks.
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