March 7, 2023

Do’s and Don’ts For Supplements

Supplementing: Do and Don’t for vegan athletes or individuals who keep active

Some are opposed to taking supplements, while others consider any supplement to be miraculous for the body. Let’s find some balance here.

Choosing the right supplement for your body can significantly help support your daily needs. Be careful when selecting such products, though, as some are poorly made and can either be a waste of money or even harm your body in the long run.

Photo by Taryn Elliott

Visit activeplantbased for professional help and plant-based nutrition training.

Recognising if a supplement is good for you

The most important thing to look for is whether the chosen supplements have any harmful-to-health ingredients. After that, scan for any doping-relevant substances, if you get tested for them.

Here you can find a list of products that have been independently tested for such substances: Cologne List: Product Database (

Try not to blindly follow your friend, training partner or coach and what they are using. Ask yourself questions, do your own research and find what’s best for your needs.

You should always pay attention to the following:

  • Yes, studies on certain products have shown great effects. But are those effects relevant to your sport? Are they what you truly need?
  • Too high an intake can be dangerous, while too low can be proven inefficient. Lookout for the right dosage.
  • Find out when it is best to take the supplement (morning, night, before or after training).

Some insight on weight gain and pre-workout supplements

Weight/ “muscle” gainers

If you don’t feel hungry or struggle to take in the required amount of calories, such supplements might be of help. Do not substitute them instead of proper meals. Note that weight gainers only contribute to increasing your calorie intake. They mainly contain carbohydrates and some protein however, they are not filling, and you might still feel hungry after.

Example for a smoothie weight gainer at home: Blend together a banana, oats, sweeteners of your liking (dates, raisins, syrup), plant milk, cocoa powder, and most importantly, pureed nuts or nut butters… Serve and enjoy!

Pre-workout supplements

Such products can help with concentration, provide energy and give you the temporary ’’muscle pump’’. If you’re only looking to feel more energetic and need some help focusing, you can opt for caffeinated drinks. Be careful, though, as caffeine can cause sleeplessness, especially if you consume it later in the day.

Food and herbs that naturally boost your energy

Consider having a light snack on one some of the following food before your workout or making a herbal tea with the following herbs. See if it works for you. The more natural and less refined, the better.


  • Banana
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Dark Chocolate


  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Maca (different to matcha)

Supplements that are ineffective

No matter how big and popular the advertisement of such products is and how tempting their names might be, most of them are not worth your money and will not enhance any part of your body or performance whatsoever.

Fat burners, for example, a name that really does sound appealing, only help burn your money, but not body fat.

Fat burners are also known as, BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids”. The BCAAs are three of the nine essential amino acids. In a varied plant-based diet, you will get your BCAAs from your diet anyway. An addition of BCAAs is of no advantage whatsoever. For instance, a protein powder containing all essential amino acids or an EAA product may be the better choice with fewer costs.

Supplements for further hydration

The best hydrating drink out there is water. Depending on where you live water already contains electrolytes (K, Mg, Na, Ca). However, occasionally opting for drinks that contain higher levels of electrolytes is a good idea.

A drink fortified in minerals is mineral water with gas. Occasionally, drinking mineral water with lemon for instance, will be of benefit to you.

The most natural source of good quality and quantity of electrolytes is coconut water. Besides that, there are many sports drinks out there fortified with electrolytes. However, be aware when buying those since most contain unnecessary amounts of sugar.