I had a heated discussion regarding supplement use last night. Their use, their purpose, and whether they are actually necessary.
Supplements are "something that completes or enhances something else when added to it". Some people love them, some people hate them - and I used to be the later until I did some research and actually tried them for myself. There are certain products I live by, and some that I have tried and totally disregarded.
Some people believe that when you talk about supplements you are actually talking about meal replacement - and to make things clear, MEAL REPLACEMENT is something I will never support, I believe in eating whole foods.
I'm going to break supplementation down into categories- essential micro/ macronutrients and performance enhancing supplements.
When you supplement, it is due to a deficiency or the inability to consume the daily recommended amount. When you can not meet the required amount through food, you fill the gap through supplementation. If you are eating a healthy, well balanced diet full of variety you may not need to supplement to reach the daily recommended requirement of micronutrients, but you may need to supplement to reach the daily recommended requirement of Macro nutrients such as protein. For example a 200lb man should be consuming 200g of protein per day(1g per 1lb of bodyweight) if the goal is muscle gain or fat loss. It is more beneficial and cost effective to add protein shakes to their day instead of eating 12 Chicken Breasts!
As for performance enhancing supplements, a well designed workout stresses the body. Several supplements have been scientifically proven to increase strength, power, and recovery from workouts. Supplements can boost workout intensity which leads to muscle gain or can put your body further into calorie deficit and so fat loss.
This does not mean that supplementation alone will help you reach your goals. You have to use supplements in ADDITION to proper training, and a goal focused nutrition plan.
I use supplements for both meeting the gap in my nutrition and from recovery from my workouts. All supplements I use have developed and tested and Harvard. They are quality products unlike some cheaper version I tried in the past - remember cheaper is not always better!!