Mixing powders or popping pills pre-workout might be pointless, says one diet expert. 

Although some supplements can give your body a boost, others are a complete waste of time, Rob Hobson, a UK-based registered sports dietitian and author of “The Detox Kitchen Bible,” told the Daily Mail.

The experienced nutritionist explained that while it’s not uncommon for people to want a leg up in the gym, there are a limited number of supplements that have been shown to offer real benefits.

In fact, Hobson advised, you may not need fancy powders or pricy pills at all. Eating a little fruit and having a cup of coffee before your morning workout might be all you need to feel your best.

Here, the two supplements you can skip, and two you should take instead.

Skip: Pre-workout supplements

Think of these as “kitchen sink supplements,” Hobson said, with lots of ingredients “thrown into the mix.” 

Pre-workout supplements contain any number of ingredients, but they typically claim to increase performance, boost stamina and energy levels, and even help build lean muscle. Common ingredients can include things like caffeine, B vitamins and amino acids (the building blocks of protein), like citrulline, taurine and creatine. 

Supplements that contain caffeine might offer you a temporary boost — having a little caffeine prior to a workout is well-established in its ability to improve exercise performance, but there may not be much else of a benefit. 

“Many of the other elements are not really necessary, especially for gym goers,” Hobson explained.  

And while Hobson noted that some of these supplements might contain helpful ingredients, like creatine, they’re not going to be effective unless they’re taken consistently. 

“Intermittently taking them in a pre-workout is not going to be effective,” Hobson noted. “Sometimes the doses are also too small in accordance with the research around their effectiveness.”

Skip: Fat-burning supplements

Next on the dietitian’s list of don’ts: fat-burning supplements. These can be the “ultimate waste of time,” warned Hobson.

Any over-the-counter pill that promises to help you shed pounds or burn fat faster is likely bogus.

“The claims made about these supplements are that they can speed up your metabolism or increase fat oxidation,” Hobson explained. “But neither is backed up by any reliable science-based research on the ingredients included in the supplement.” 

Reading the label, you’re likely to find ingredients like green tea, caffeine and conjugated linolenic acid, which has been shown to have modest weight loss effects in a few studies. But it’s nothing to get too excited about, Hobson noted. 

“Relying on supplements to help manage your body weight or percentage of body fat will teach you nothing about the importance of diet, exercise and lifestyle and how you can manipulate these factors to help you achieve more sustainable performance goals,” he explained.

What to take instead

It’s not all a waste of time and money. If you’re looking to improve your workouts, eat a banana and have a little coffee, Hobson suggested. It’s not glamorous, but the banana will provide calories and good nutrients, while the coffee adds that helpful boost of caffeine. 

If you are looking to invest in supplements, Hobson revealed there are two that might help you reach your goals: creatine and protein powder.

Protein, a macronutrient that is essential to building muscle, has well-established benefits. Experts advise that you should try to consume around 20 grams of it within two hours of working out. Whey protein powders might be the most common, but you can also try plant-based versions, usually made from soy or pea protein.

“There is lots of well conducted research looking into the performance benefits of protein powders,” Hobson told the Daily Mail. “These findings have shown them to be useful for muscle growth and repair after exercise, recovery as well as strength and performance gains.”

Creatine, on the other hand, is an amino acid that’s naturally found in muscles, but when taken in a synthetic form, may help you build muscle faster. “It’s also one of the limited number of supplements featured in the sports nutrition and performance guidance set by the American College of Sports Medicine,” Hobson said.

Creatine may also help athletes recover faster after tough workouts and even help with healing. 

“Benefits include increased sustained energy for high-intensity exercise, increased muscle mass and power, which equates to improved performance,” Hobson said. 

Take creatine in small doses daily for the best results, Hobson advised.

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