This is quite a long read, and I won't appreciate TLDR comments and will take it as a breach of forum rules. If you can't be arsed, don't bother. There has been a lot of heated exchanges between some members about supplements (please let us keep names and supps of the "natural" kind ), whether they be protein powder, amino acids, fish oils or other such products such as antioxidants, adaptogens and so on. This is my view and my opening bid for this discussion. Protein powder: I think that once you have a good diet well established and I mean an honest good diet if you're training hard enough that your body requires the extra protein then I think it's perfectly sensible to supplement your body with extra protein. This is especially true if you play intensive sports such as rugby for example where your body gets injured and requires extra healing - whereas protein isn't a magic cure, your muscles depend on the amino acid content of the protein to help regenerate muscle tissue. Furthermore if you are vegetarian it's a fantastic way of getting cheap extra protein in your body, that meat eaters would get a lot more easily from their day to day diet. However, I tend to take shakes on days I train to give myself a spike, the whole bank holiday for example I wasn't training and not once did I touch a shake or any supps bar some fish oils. However I did eat accordingly, well it was BBQ weather after all! Essential Amino acids: possibly more important than protein itself as the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use, and as such the protein synthesis won't be as powerful or efficient and the nitrogen balance will be impared. Sounds all a bit gobbledegook doesn't it? Well essentially your body cannot synthesis these amio acids, therefore you need to ensure you get them in their "raw" format in your diet. The name "essential" means exactly that, they are needed by your body as your body cannot "create" them from other strings in your body. Does this mean you should buy lots of EEAs? No. Not at all. However, from my experience when I have added them to my diet, I have noticed a reduction in DOMs, and longevity in training and faster recovery. A lot of protein shakes have a good amino acid profile anyway so it's not always necessary. You can get a lot of amino acids through diet, but that's where a very varied diet comes in. Having chicken, tuna, eggs, and spinach EVERY day is not going to do you any good. Other amino acids: such as OKG etc... OKG in particular I have had very positive results from. Does this mean it should be used? No not really, it's bloody expensive for a start, and whilst it clearly (no psuedo science BS) increases anabolic proterties within your body it's too expensive to be a necessary supplement for me, but also isn't required or isn't that important for day to day life. There is a big list of other amino acids, again most of them are found in a protein powder of good quality but some stand alone as completely non-standard in terms of diet, and probably why they have such a decent influence in the correct doses. However, again, it's expensive, and unnecessary for most people, to bar the high end atheletes which none of us are. Creatine: the longest used/researched supp. There's a lot of debate about this one - which one to go for, which one works, some dont' work for some etc... Creatine works by pulling the water from outside the muscle cells - inside and thus allowing the muscle to exert a higher level of contractile force. It basically helps fuel muscles. This basically means you will be able to lift more weight during your workouts. I have to admit I havent' really "felt" I have got much of out creatines - but I know when I have been supplementing with it in the past, it probably did help but it's not like a cup of coffee where you "feel" the caffeine kicking in. Plain fact is, if you have a decent amount of red meat in your diet you probably have enough creatine in your body. However, there are a lot of non-pseudo bits of research on it. It's up to you to decide whether or not it works for you. Adaptogens: these are my favourite by a long shot and I do use these from time to time. The reasons I like them is because they are 100% natural, extract typicaly from plants. These are really helpful for things such as reducing stress, improving mood and focus and energy and potentially reduce cortisol levels. Things like gingseng, cissus, rhodiola rosea, reservatrol etc... Pretty much all adaptogens are nigh on impossible to get into your daily diet and hence why I feel they have such a powerful effect on people with a healthy diet. It's a bit hippy I guess, but these are one of the few sort of supps I do rant about. Fish oils: The popular one. We all know that our diets have difference immensley since the time we were first created as beings. Fish used to be staple is now a "luxury" for most people. The amount of fish oils and general EFAs (EHA DPA etc..) in our diets has shrunk considerably. There are soe many good effects from EHA DPAs in our diet that to me it seems daft not to have them in it. I do buy a fair bit of fish, but I admit my tastes have got used to having, lamb, beef, chicken etc.. as well, so fish is not always on the menu and whilst other foodstuffs contain the omegas and other EFAs we need it seems daft that such a good supplement for you (there are no bad connotations unless you take them by excess, but then what's new?!). Some of the reasons why I feel supplementation can be sensible is because from what I've read, and from personal experience in the world I live in, m odern diets are short of adequate daily nutritional requirements. Some nutrient deficiencies can make us prone to certain ailments, potentiall obesity and disease. Supps can help to overcome the negative effects of poor eating habits - but that's a key point, you should sort out your poor eating habits first rather than cover it up by loading your body full of supplements. Ultimately what supps do is to helps fill the gaps that food doesn't provide Modern agriculture suffers from depleted soils, excessive use of pesticides and also the refining processes lower nutrient content in foods - hence why I try and buy unrefined goods as much as I can - close to impossible now though. It could be argued that supps are refined, but then they are not foods are they? It's a tough one to accept I guess. I also read in the news realtively recently that a sample of green beans I think it was, were actually close to 20% short of nutrient content that it should be!!! After a bit of research it seems that a lot of veg and fruit are shy of their full nutritional content - I didn't look too much into meat, but from what I've seen other than injecting meats with water and meat proteins they still hold some value, but the quality of the meats can be brought into question - leading onto whether or not you believe that good quality meats contain more nutrition - from a taste perspective, an independently farmed chicken tastes miles better - and I have taste tested it blind folded. Seriously try it. A friend of mine who is a chef did the same with eggs. I cooked him eggs 3 ways, from 3 different types, caged, organic free range (supermarket), and a local farm that you go and pick your own eggs within hours of being hatched. Poached, fried, and scrambled. He got the caged egg right every time. He got the organic/free range egg and the "real" egg, wrong once where he got the poached one the wrong way round. Another thing that kills nutrient contents in food is the processing, transporting and storing foods. Supps with high quality plant enzymes, whole food vitamins and chelated minerals can help to replace the vital nutrients that arent' present in modern diets, but again it's not entirely necessary if you buy good quality foods as best you can. One thing that happens a lot and is hard to avoid are chemically treated foods which can lead to all sorts of things such as allergies, dysfunctions etc... Also modern lifestyle can have a huge effect on our bodies and food sources, though I don't necessarily believe that things like EM waves, microwaves etc.. can be that damaging, but again, it's something to consider. I'm just trying to give a rounded all point opinion. I think as a race we are far more stressed than we used to be and as such, stress can compromise bodily function and can deplete vital nutrients. Also people are taking more and more "pills" to overcome their stresses, whether they be analgesics, contraceptive pills etc... They all affect our bodies... But what's new? Is that an excuse to supplement, or just try and chill out more, look after your health more? You decide. I vote for the former - but I agree it is hard to relax sometimes. So should supps be regarded in the same way as taking pills to manage your day? Tough one... I say no, but I don't take pills and I don't take a million supps every day so I can't tell. However, I know for fact that more people die every year through the uses of prescription drugs so although those are also researched and tested, they still can cause side effects etc.. so it could be deemed that taking any extra stuff into your body might not be doing your body any good as it stresses the body out potentially? However, a lot of the supplements are natural, and available in your daily diet, so why would they be harmful? Unlike prescription drugs or other over the counter solutions they are chemicals that actually interfere with your body and it's hormones (the pill, head ache tablets, anti allergens etc...). So it's a tough call. I'm not enough of an expert to tell you what to think on that one. So to summarise, I have some minor reasons that I believe supplementation can be good, or worthwhile, taking into considering your whole lifestyle, diet has been evaluated and honestly analysed are: To correct nutritional deficiencies either through diet choice (vegetarianism etc...) or owing to allergies to some foods containing useful and important nutrients. Or through poor foods being available to you. To replenish what is missing in your foods (vitamins, minerals, enzymes, flora, and antioxidants). Again this should be an honest analysis, are you doing the best you can to get all the nutrients in as part of your diet? To provide your body with the nutrition necessary to combat today’s environmental stresses. This is one I do believe can be helped, I'm a big fant of adaptogens as I mentioned earlier and natural plant extracts and teas can really help give you a boost in this area. To meet the higher nutritional needs of your lifestyle choice. If you're into lots of sports and bodybuilding etc... you are potentially pushing your body beyond the enveloppe of what your nutrition can offer you - again this is down to an individual to analyse whether or not he/she falls into that category. This is contentious, and I'm not sure I personally believe this but there is talk that it could potentially help decrease your risk of chronic & degenerative diseases... but surely that would be part of a healthy lifestyle choice more than supplementation? I personally believe we an overfed and undernourished society. Our deficiencies have been created by our “modern” society and diet which cause the body to be more prone to certain things such as: viruses, disease, infections, obesity, allergies, headaches, stress, strokes, a weak immune system, to name a few. Look at the nation now... we have more obesity than ever before, we have more asthma as allergic sufferers (fish, milk, wheat, nuts etc...). A hundred years ago, unfortunately such people would probably have passed away, in a way we've been cheating death. I personally believe that modern science and medicine has hidden the dangers of our poor lifestyles. Today’s “modern” diet does not provide enough of the nutrients we need - for the average person, though I reckon a lot of us in this fitness/BB game probably punch above our weight in terms of lifestyle and diet. I doubt more than a handful of the population get their "5 a day". People's diets in general are too high in fat, sugar, sodium, and saturated fat, and doesn’t provide enough vitamins, minerals or fibre to meet our nutritional needs. Ultimately you need to be honest to yourself. It's your money, and is it your subconscious telling you it's working? Or is it REALLY working? No one can judge that. I, personally, have had a mixed thought on some of these supps, some have greatly helped and have had a positive influence, others I can take or leave. One thing I will still and always be a fan of are natural extracts (root, vegetable etc...) that are hard to get in your daily diet and help enhance a GOOD DIET, rather than REPLACE it. Some supps can work synergistically with your diet and body, but dont' expect miracles and RESEARCH!!! It's the most important thing. There have been some very very in depth studies on some of these supps, and others have been very weak. Ultimately these products exist because people have researched them and have believed that the body requires extra boost. I also believe that modern diets are poor, even if we do the best we can - so whilst I'm anti loading yourself with every supp under the sun for the sake of it, I believe there are uses for them and they can help. In conclusion, supps have their place in modern society. They certainly have their place if your diet is poor. They also have a place if you're pushing your body beyond it's normal capacity. It is plain fact that some of them can, and do, help regenerate your body, improve well being and help you life a healthier lifestyle. However, I would choose to try and live that lifestyle minus supps as much as possible, to minimise the supps you need to take. Not because they are bad per se, but a) they're expensive b) you can get the nurtients you need by eating well, c) understand what's causing you to be ill/run-down etc... Address the root cause of the problem is often more important than the peripheral causes - sure a short term solution may help, but if you don't get to the root of it, it'll just start to grow again.