Fitness Supplements: The cost and health impact

Fitness Supplements: The cost and health impact

When we’re talking about financial literacy and fitness, there is one important link: fitness supplements. Nowadays marketing and social media are often recommending taking specific fitness supplements which could be very expensive. Their cost could easily reach hundreds of Euros per month. The widespread opinion is that these supplements are going to help you lose weight, recover faster after an intensive workout, gain more muscle, or lift more weight. I’d say that the reality is very different from these promises.

Let me clarify first that I don’t claim that all supplements are bad. I’m not saying expensive supplements are good either. What I’m saying, is that we have to do our research before taking a supplement. Asking a friend, a personal trainer, or your gym buddy often isn’t enough. You may do a lot of harm to yourself, or best case scenario just waste your hard earn money. Here is why I am now spending 130 Euro monthly less on supplements than I did a year ago.

Since the beginning of my fitness journey, I’ve been taking some supplements

All of them were recommended by my personal trainer. The supplements I was taking were as follow:

  • BCAA
  • Whey protein
  • Multivitamins
  • Glutamine
  • Magnesium
  • Fat burner

Some of you might think these are not much. Well, maybe they are not. Yet, I was always feeling anxious to take so much stuff that I wasn’t completely aware of what it was doing to my body. This motivated me to start learning more and reading scientific studies about the benefits of these fitness supplements. As I was gaining experience, I was also monitoring myself on their effect on my body. Another important topic was the cost of these supplements. Below I’ll share the cost of the ones I was taking, plus how many packages I needed per month.

The monthly cost of the supplements I was taking was about 173.5 Euros!

SupplementSingle pack pricePacks per monthMonthly cost
BCAA€40,001.30€52,00
Whey Protein€60,001.00€60,00
Multivitamins€15,001.00€15,00
Glutamine€40,000.50€20,00
Magnesium€8,000.50€4,00
Fat Burner€45,000.50€22,50
Total monthly cost: 173.50 Euros. All prices in Euro

When we add up the gym membership and the cost of hiring a personal trainer, numbers get serious. Here is the moment I started thinking that I have to change something. As I was already monitoring my training performance for quite a few months, I already knew which of these supplements I could just stop buying. In the beginning, I cut the BCAA and Glutamine. Not only because they were not having any real effect on my body or training performance, but because I started reading scientific research papers that gave me valuable insights. Here are some of the resources which helped me make this decision:

In conclusion, there wasn’t enough scientific evidence showing that glutamine would have a positive effect on the performance of healthy advanced athletes. In terms of BCAA, the existing research shows that it’s a complete waste of money.

Removing these 2 supplements from my monthly expenses saved me nearly 70 Euros/month.

Apart from scientific research, I started looking at what athletes I trust are doing.

The reason I trust these athletes is that they look at scientific research themselves and are more experienced than me. With time I learned to trust and follow people who are pointing at their research when they are sharing that something is working or it isn’t. That’s how I found Menno Henselmans and Jeff Nippard. They both are looking at scientific research, participating in seminars, and are trusted in the community.

The next 2 supplements I decided to stop taking were multivitamins and fat burner. A simple Google search and a bit of critical thinking is enough to prove the uselessness of multivitamins. Concerning the fat burner, I was taking a liquid burner that was making me feel unwell.

These 2 supplements cost about 37.5 Euros/month.

Total cost cut is 107.5 Euro/month from all 4 supplements.

These 4 supplements either didn’t feel good or were not having any effect on my training performance

With Whey protein I found a better product for less money – 1kg pack costs 35 Euros which is enough for a month. 25 Euro cost reduction from here. In terms of the magnesium, I did some research and found out that magnesium citrate is absorbed better than the one I was already taking. Yes, the new one is more expensive (15 Euros/pack), but 1 pack contains 100 doses enough for 100 days. No cost reduction from this change but I count the quality increase as savings.

After I’ve taken the steps to understand the cost of these supplements, their health, and training performance effect, I did 1 more thing. I continued monitoring my body and performance after I stopped using them. This way I was certain that I have taken the right decision.

One thing I added was a pre-workout supplement

I don’t drink coffee, which is also considered as a pre-workout, so I added a dedicated pre-workout supplement to help me boost my morning workouts. The effect I’m observing is a slightly increased heart rate and body temperature. Both are feeling good in the morning, so I’m happy with this effect. The price of this pre-workout is 45 euros and 1 pack it’s enough for about 3 months or more, which I consider a good value for money.

Learn from your body and from science

When I was taking all of the steps above, I learned a lot. Not only from scientific research and other athletes, but I learned a lot for my body. I learned to ask myself “Is it worth taking this? What would I gain? How will it improve my overall health and performance?”

Taking into account the 133.5 Euros I don’t spend on these supplements, the health benefit is huge. Plus I’m not inflicting any harm to my body. Our bodies are organic machines and we should maintain them the way we do with our cars and homes – check often for concerns, fix immediately after a problem is discovered, declutter what doesn’t benefit you.

We should do this not only for the financial savings we get at the end of the month, but for the benefit of our health.

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