We've all been there. Shopping at your favorite in-store or online supplement retailer while unrelenting advertisements shout at you. Maybe it is something that boosts your immune system, maybe it is something that is certified to give you that muscle-popping pump you desire. However tempting it is, the product is telling a half-truth at best. These are some tips for not falling into traps that big nutrition companies have set out for our wallets.

Protein Powder
Credit: Reflex Nutrition

Various protien powders tempt potential buyers with expressive language and false promises

Protein Supplements

Whether its pills or powder, protein supplements are among the most popular nutritional aids out there. [1]Some studies show that depending on the area a whopping 30%+ of gym users take protein supplements alone. However, is all that protein really necessary? While nutrient consumption varies on a person to person basis, and some people do need the additional protein to aid their regular diet (at the discretion of their doctor), the average person actually consumes enough protein in a 2,000+ calorie diet. [2]The FDA currently recommends a person to eat 50 grams of protein in a 2,000 calorie diet per day, which can change based on a person's activity level, or around .36 grams per pound of bodyweight. More often than not, your deficit of protein could easily be covered with an extra chicken breast or two throughout the day. So next time you are shopping, think about how long you can make that protein tub last, it will save you upwards of 50$ per jar of some protein powder brands.

Not to mention some adverse health effects that can arise from too much protein consumption.
 

Vitamins
Credit: Harvard Health

How much is too much?

Vitamin Supplements

Continuing with our theme of is it too much?, vitamin supplements are huge targets for overconsumption. [3]With around 68% of Americans taking dietary supplements, and 98% of those being vitamin supplements, we can see why the market for the best vitamin is so huge. Arguably, the most popular tactic vitamin companies use to lure in unwary consumers is to stuff their supplement so chock-full of vitamins that you would not need to worry about the rest of your day after taking just one pill. The truth of the matter is that, more often than not, this is absolutely too much vitamin for your body to handle. With a regular diet, people get their recommended amount of vitamins per day, and with your liver being used as vitamin storage, your body has the ability to compensate for any temporary deficiency. If you truly have vitamin concerns, speak to your physician about running a vitamin deficiency test. Otherwise, stay away from vitamin supplements that advertise having over 150% (I've seen this number as high as 3000% in some cases) of your recommended daily allowance (RDA).

A high percentage of fat-soluble vitamins in your body ( e.g. vitamin A or D) can lead to many adverse health effects since they are stored for later use. In general, look for a less extreme vitamin supplement. It should work fine with even your marginally average diet.

supplements
Credit: pbs.org

Supplements, supplements everywhere, and not a pill that works

Other Supplements

Between creatine, beta-alanine, and nitric oxide, it gets hard to determine what any of these supplements are really for without doing some prior research.  The first step in tackling the mountain of extra supplements you can take is to figure out what you are looking for. Have a set plan for exactly what you need to help achieve your fitness goals, anything else is filler or up-sell. Next, do brand research. Look up customer reviews and ratings for any nutritional supplement you find yourself interested in. Finally, do research on what these supplements can actually accomplish. Steer clear from bottles that use snake oil salesman-like tactics to advertise all the changes its contents can make in your body. Look for supplements that are not mostly filler, with ingredient lists that you should be able to pick apart on your own.
At the end of the day, the way to advance your own physical fitness the most is by working hard, no matter the supplements that you end up taking.