Kevin Mwangi, a fitness consultant has dedicated 20 years of his life to educating, empowering, and motivating his clients toward leading a healthier and fit lifestyle.
"I help my clients understand the science behind exercising so that they can embrace the fitness journey with less frustration. Most people go into the fitness world without knowing what will work for them and end up copying what others are doing without understanding that we all have different body types,” he tells the BDLife.
He helps his clients in two ways: Body assessment and fitness consultation. "The fitness consultation is for those who want education and a bit of literature to better understand their bodies."
It is a one-on-one session with the clients where "we list down their goals together and do a post-mortem of their lifestyle."
They record the nature of the food they eat and their daily activities to be able to understand whether their eating is complementing their body type and daily routine.
Kepha Nyanumba, a registered nutrition consultant with 15 years in clinical nutrition says that a body assessment is essentially a body composition analysis.
“It goes beyond simply understanding the BMI (body mass index) but also understanding the body water, body fats, and bone mass.
How does the body assessment help?
The body assessment allows Kevin to get a client's muscle percentage and body fat, which then informs the kind of exercise that will work for that person.
"A person who is looking to lose weight should focus on high-intensive exercises so that they can burn calories. On the other hand, if you are seeking to build muscles you should focus on low-intensive exercises like weight lifting,” says Kevin.
Kepha Nyanumba, a registered nutrition consultant advises people to go for regular body assessments to better understand their bodies. He notes: “We don’t have to wait until we get lifestyle diseases for us to go for the check-ups. Before exercising it is prudent to first do the body assessment to know the workouts that will work best for you.”
Kevin says that the body assessment also helps him determine the body supplements that his clients can take. “You can also use body supplements to increase your performance at the gym,” says Kevin.
“The body supplements cost anything between Sh4,000 and Sh11,000 depending on the size and brand of the supplements,” says Kevin.
There are five categories of body supplements. The first category is the weight gainers which are suitable for people who want to gain weight and build muscle mass. These supplements are high in carbohydrates and calories.
The second is the muscle builders category which comprises lean protein shakes. They are low in calories and high in protein.
For people with a calorie deficit and who want to utilise fat for energy, the third category (fat burners) is recommended.
The fourth type is the performance optimisers which help active people to boost their energy to be able to do high-intensity workouts.
Lastly, wellness supplements include multivitamins and minerals that support the normal functioning of the body and well-being.
Kepha however cautions against over-reliance on body supplements. "Nutrition supplements are very common these days. This begs the question of whether body supplements are good. One of the reasons people lack nutrients is because of our poor food choices. People are taking a lot of processed foods which have very little to no nutrients."
He advises that one should take body supplements when a health professional recommends them to avoid taking excess of certain nutrients.
For the body-building supplements especially for those looking to build muscles, Kepha says, before taking medication one should first get quality rest and enough sleep. They should also be keen on their food choices, he says adding that food is crucial in building muscles.
“There are natural ways of building muscles without needing to take medication.”
Body supplements could have adverse effects on one's health. “The risk in taking body supplements is that they contain a high concentration of proteins that can overwhelm your kidneys resulting in kidney failure. There is no point in trying to build muscles and then ending up ruining some of your body organs," says Kepha.
Another danger is that some supplements may contain chemicals that end up overworking the liver.
“I rarely recommend supplements to my patients but mainly tell them to fix their food choices and tackle their digestive disorders, ” says Kepha.
He, however, notes that there are people who need supplements as a short-term measure. “For instance, for a patient who walks into my office with low iron levels, I recommend supplements as a short-term measure as we work on the root cause. Once we boost the iron levels, we get rid of the supplements and focus on the natural ways to get all the nutrients that they need by prescribing a meal plan.”
Kevin has noted an increased intake of body supplements in the last two years as more people embrace fitness as evidenced by the mushrooming of gyms.
"The Covid-19 pandemic created awareness of the adverse health risks that people with underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can be exposed to,” says Kevin.
He however worries that most people taking the supplements without taking assessments may be doing more harm than good in the long run.