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Wellness > Health

Everything you need to know about gym supplements!

Updated Published
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

TW – Mention of calories and eating habits.

Whether this is your first time stepping into a gym, restarting your gym journey from scratch – or even an avid gym-goer, this information is bound to help you develop your knowledge about supplements and alternatives to them.

Being new to the gym is scary; and an already tricky process is made even trickier when you have an overload of information from people all over the internet. You are being told a million different things that you need to take and do if you want to see progress in the gym. If only it was as simple as eating healthy and picking up a weight here and there. 

Calorie deficits are the only way in which you will lose weight. Many recommend using the TDEE calculator to figure out how much you should be consuming in order to maintain this deficit, but counting calories can lead you down a dark rabbit hole. If you know that you are someone that struggles with eating and counting calories, there are many ways you can stay in a calorie deficit without weighing your food and counting calories. Prioritize eating high protein and high volume in light foods like vegetables as they will keep you fuller for longer, while still hitting your nutritional targets. Don’t forget carbs because these are essential, but they shouldn’t make up the majority of your plate. Remember that exercising will also put you in a deficit because you are burning calories, but the key to a healthy body is 80% diet and 20% exercise. 

You’ve probably seen many fitness influencers talking about all the supplements they take that have resulted in them getting their dream bodies etc, and it all seems a little daunting. So here is a breakdown of the different supplements, if they’re necessary and if you can get away with taking them or not!

Protein Powder 

Proteins are complex molecules made up of amino acids that are responsible for the structure, function and regulation for the body. They build and repair muscles amongst other things, which is why protein consumption is so important in your gym journey. It is found in a plethora of foods, and it is very possible to achieve your protein goals without having to take protein powder as a supplement. You can find high sources of protein in fish like tilapia, tuna, prawns and mackerel; and lean meats like turkey, chicken breast and steak. Greek yogurt, nuts and eggs are also high in protein, alongside spinach, beans, peas and avocados. There is nothing inherently wrong with taking protein supplements like bars and powders, but you’re in no way hindering your journey if you choose to stick to natural food as your source of it. Having a high protein, low calorie diet will enable you to lose fat but maintain and grow muscle – which is essential if we want to see those glute gains! As a newbie, aim for about 80-100 grams a day. 


Like protein, creatine is made up of amino acids. It can be found in our liver, pancreas and kidneys, but only creates around one gram per day. Creatine is typically ingested through red meats like pork and veal, seafood and animal milk. However, unlike protein, it is difficult to get enough creatine from food alone, so supplements are manufactured, the most popular being in powder form. For athletes and those that work out frequently – especially lifting heavy weights – studies have shown that creatine quickly increases energy and strength while working out, which not only improves your performance, but enables you to work out for longer. Consequently, your muscle growth will occur faster, and creatine also aids in muscle repair. Creatine does result in weight gain – both in muscle mass and water retention – so bear that in mind when deciding what your gym goals are. In extreme cases, it can lead to kidney failure and liver dysfunction, so remember to consult a healthcare specialist before taking supplements of any kind because they can all have dangerous side effects. It is not essential to take creatine, but if you know you want to bulk up and gain a lot of muscle, taking it will probably get you to your goal faster. 


I’m sure you’ve seen this name flying around TikTok and you’re wondering why everyone is taking this, and if it is even really necessary. Oxyshred is considered to be a ‘fat burner’ and ‘appetite suppressant’, that gives you a surge of energy that also speeds up your metabolism. Many fitness influencers swear by this, but is it the truth or are they just trying to cut a check? Oxyshred claims that they have been scientifically proven to naturally boost fat metabolism and enhance moods, but studies have shown that using Oxyshred will cause one pound of fat loss after 78 days of usage, approximately five pounds per year. This means that while yes, they are technically correct, it does cause weight loss – it is very minimal. It contains caffeine, which is an energy booster, so instead of buying Oxyshred, there are other ways to get a caffeine boost (like good old coffee)!


This is another popular one. Creators who never fail to do a Bloom ad, and always make sure they’re ‘drinking their greens because they cause weight loss and prevent bloating,’ but what do they really do? Powdered greens are a dietary supplement mixture of fruits, vegetables, probiotics and enzymes; to name a few of their many ingredients. They are useful if you’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and the addition of probiotics and vitamins can aid with gut health and bloating. They are typically low calorie, low carb and low sugar. Studies have shown that using greens can lower blood pressure and inflammation, and increase Vitamin C levels as well as antioxidants. It is not fully proven that greens cause weight loss and solve bloating, but they are a good way to boost your nutrition and overall health. 


Pre-workout is any supplement – usually in a powder drink mix form – consumed before exercising to boost energy. There is no one ingredient list, many brands have a plethora of ingredients, but the most common are: Caffeine, creatine, beetroot juice and beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB). Pre-workout supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the lack of regulation for certain ingredients means that they can pose health risks. Side effects and risks of certain supplements can cause: Overstimulation, including restlessness or shakiness, anxiety, dehydration, headaches, high blood pressure or a fast heart rate. It is not essential to take energy boosting supplements if you are an active person because you can get all of your nutrition from natural foods. If you are a bodybuilder or competitive weightlifter, then it is understandable, but your average Joe in the gym doesn’t need to guzzle down two scoops of pre-workout in order to reach their goals. 

Hopefully this has eased your nerves surrounding supplements, answers any questions you may have,  and made you more confident in starting your gym journey! Health is wealth!

I am currently a junior at ODU majoring in Journalism. I love to read and I actually have a Booktok called @kesiahreadit where I review books and suggest books too! I enjoy writing and I also have a blog called Opinionate on wixsite where I write about anything I feel calls to me! This is my first year as part of HerCampus.