It seems that in today's fast paced world, where everyone want results yesterday, that there are still people falling for the same swindles that our parents and grandparents fell for ten, twenty, fifty, even one hundred years ago. Snake Oil salesmen have been around for thousands of years selling products that are guaranteed to relieve gout, grow hair, reduce your waistline, and make you attractive to the opposite sex. I know that you are too smart to fall for this kind of blatant BS marketing hype... but I'm going to guess that you've thrown down your hard earned cash more than once for something that was too good to be true. I see you out there, shaking your head "no" while wrapped up in your Snuggie! Work with me for a minute and I think you'll see what I'm right...
I can easily think of about ten things that would fall into this category and I challenge you to pick up any fitness related magazine and not come up with a substantial list of your own. The list would include home training courses, training equipment, and most blatantly - supplements. They all show ripped athletes, both male and female, in amazing shape and it's the direct result of using "Super Powered Android Formula X"... or something like that. Guaranteed to make you stronger, bigger, and obviously drop-dead sexy. Just take this pill, powder, shake, etc., and in no time you will be a Mr. Olympia contestant or CrossFit Games winner. Hey - where can I get some of this stuff for myself?
The fact is the supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is, for the most part, unregulated and out of control. There are no restrictions on the claims they can make, as long as they don't claim to cure any illness or disease, and the science they use to substantiate their claims is questionable at best and completely fabricated at worst. If you are really interested in enhancing your performance, and not utilize illegal pharmaceuticals to do so, there are only a handful of supplements that will give you a push in the right direction. The most potent thing that any athlete can do to really give themselves an edge over the competition is to eat as healthy as possible, get as much sleep as possible, get a good coach or training team, and be consistent day after day and year after year.
My friend Andrew Read wrote a great article for the Breaking Muscle website about this subject entitled "The Most Memorable Fitness Swindles of the Last 30 Years". It's a great read and one that will give you some insight into some other things you need to avoid... not to mention saving you some time and money!
NOTE - still interested in learning more about supplements that actually work? Well I'll post something in the coming weeks that will give you some solid information to work with before you head to the supplement store and spend your hard earned cash.