Dietary supplements such as whey protein and pre workout are becoming increasingly popular among students who work out at the Bronco Recreational Intramural Complex.
Students who are dedicated to their workouts tend to integrate vitamins, extracts, protein shakes, and pre-workout mixes as necessary components to getting the most out of their workouts.
Marcus Elam, assistant professor of human nutrition and food science, teaches classes in sports nutrition and advanced nutrient metabolism.
“A dietary supplement is anything that is added to either your food, or dietary regimen, that would enhance one’s performance,” which he also refers to as an ergogenic effect.
Protein shakes are the most popular supplement amongst students at the BRIC, since they provide energy, help build endurance, and support muscle growth and recovery.
“Pre-workout” refers to the mix of supplements someone can take before their workouts to increase blood flow and provide energy through popular ingredients like caffeine, beta-alanine, niacin, and creatine, many of which dilate blood vessels to encourage muscle growth.
Many students board the supplement bandwagon as they start making their workouts more serious, or learn more about it from fellow gym members, according to Elijah Selby, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student who also works as an operation attendant at the BRIC.
“I would say most kids who are at least semi-serious will always take pre-workout. It’s really popular among younger people,” Selby said.
The Jamba Juice on the first floor assists with this fitness trend.
Olympia Lopez, the store’s manager, witnesses many students in the morning buying orange juice to mix with their powders, or two to three scoops of whey or soy protein “boosts.”
Jamba Juice also offers vitamin, protein, and caffeine boosts, but whey tends to be the most popular.
“It builds more mass, and it’s better for recovery,” said Steven Campanotto, a fifth-year business marketing student.
Pea protein is another popular option for those who wish to avoid dairy, such as Brianna Kelley, a fourth-year animal science student, who doesn’t like dairy’s effect on her skin.
Kelley added her reasons for using protein supplements.
“I don’t feel like it’s necessarily like energy, but I think I see more results with more muscle because I try to gain muscle. Maybe it’s just mental, but I do. Sometimes occasionally I’ll use pre-workout, but it’s only on days when I’m feeling really tired, or don’t feel like going.”
Elam is currently concluding data analysis using Cal Poly Pomona students as research subjects to compare the energy efficiencies between pea and whey protein supplements, and their effects on energy levels, hunger, and metabolism.
Although no conclusions can yet be made, pea protein was being studied because of the rising number of vegans and vegetarians on campus, Elam mentioned.
“Whey is definitely superior to any other protein supplement type we’ve seen. Comparatively, it’s high in leucine content, one of the nine amino acids, which plays a major role in protein synthesis, and muscle protein development.” Elam said.
While men tend to gear themselves toward building muscle mass, women are more concerned with food sources, extracts, and vitamins.
“I don’t feel the need to take protein supplements. I just want to stay healthy,” said Jordan Veazie, a fourth-year liberal studies student.
She just takes a green tea extract pill in the mornings to help boost metabolism.
Perla Lopez, a fifth-year nutrition science student, takes magnesium to help with muscle soreness.
Many gym-goers additionally maintain consistency and moderation with their diet and exercise habits.
Quentin Taylor, a fifth-year student completing his post-baccalaureate teacher credential, plays on CPP’s basketball team.
He’s been attending the BRIC since its opening, working out four times a week, for around one and a half hours.
He takes pre-workout and protein shakes before and after for added energy and “pump.”
He prefers to use the “Forza” brand, which contains 30 grams of whey protein, which he needs to help with his performance on the court.
“Usually I just use that to help recover, because we’re playing basketball for two hours a day,” Taylor said.
Students generally try to use supplements properly in their quest for health.
Jake Farnsworth, a fourth-year history student, takes them just on the days he works out in order to get enough protein and calories, and denies using them as meal replacements.
“Even though I eat really balanced and clean, I feel it gives me an extra boost for the days that I work out, and to help rebuild the work that I put in the gym,” Farnsworth said.
Cynthia Torres, a fourth-year accounting student, only takes protein shakes two to three times a week. “I don’t see much of a difference,” said Torres.
Selby expressed his concern with student’s lack of knowledge on protein shakes and supplements.
“People don’t really understand what they’re taking and what each thing does for them. So, they kind of just take it for the instant effect that they get,” Selby said.
He said that people generally don’t take vitamins because they don’t instantly affect performance.
He also mentioned ingredients like creatine, which students take to get bigger and because it’s perceived as the norm.
Many mixes on the market contain a host of other ingredients that can be difficult to navigate, and Selby noted the lack of accountability in researching what supplements are needed and what their effects are.
Torres doesn’t stick to a particular brand, but generally uses a sweet cookies and cream flavored whey base from a tub that she mixes with water.
“I don’t like the one where you can just taste the protein in there,” Torres said.
Lopez prefers to make her own vegan pre-workouts using beets and coconut water, as opposed to store-bought mixes.
“I don’t like the conventional pre-workouts. I don’t like that they give a proprietary blend where they don’t tell you exactly how much caffeine you’re getting,” Lopez said.
Selby likes to buy whole ingredients in bulk, so he knows exactly what he’s consuming.
“I buy the supplements in the individual, actual ingredients, so I can then mix it on my own, Shelby said. “That’s a way to kind of get around all the sugars you’re going to have, and just absolute junk that they put in there.”
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