Supplements can be a very slippery slope for any athlete competing at any level. The supplement industry and the sometimes bold and brash claims about their products go largely unregulated by the FDA. Manufacturers use everything from eye catching labels to elaborate and fancy marketing campaigns to entice customers to use their products. Products that may not actually have any proven benefit, or even worse, can come with dangerous ingredients for athletes with the potential to get drug tested. With that in mind, we’ve put together this post to help you make smart decisions when it comes to your supplement choices to keep your body and performances clean and positive.
Safety First – Do Your Homework!
No matter what the supplement is, where it comes from, or who else you know uses it: it is your responsibility and yours alone to research the product, its ingredients and manufacturing process to ensure it is safe and legal to use in and out of competition. Start with the WADA website to research the product and all of it’s ingredients (link in the button below). After confirming the legality of the product(s), we also recommend researching the parent company and their manufacturer. Many supplement companies use 3rd party manufacture who might also produce prohibited substances in the same facility which can risk contamination of your otherwise legal product. If any step of this process leaves you unsure of the safety of the product in question, look for another option! And remember, just because someone else claims or is known to take a particular product does not mean that’s a green light for you to use it too! Always do your research and know what goes in your body!
Use the K.I.S.S. System
Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.) – With so many different options all promising the world when it comes to enhancing your performance, it’s easy to get lost in the mess. That’s why we like to keep it simple and straight forward. To do this, we advise the same guidelines set out by the Australian Institute for Sport (AIS). The AIS has strict guidelines for every athlete in their programs on what they are and are not allow to take in and out of competition. They’ve even gone so far as to outline this right on their website for anyone to see (link in the button below). Broken down in to 4 groups, the high performance Olympic pathway athletes are restricted to the Group A items. The Group A items have evidence of positive impacts on performance in specific situations in sports and are permitted so long as they are used in accordance with best practice protocols. This is why we encourage our athletes to stick within the same guidelines for their own supplement choices.
Everything in Moderation
We think of supplementation much like we do training: in phases. You wouldn’t keep doing the exact same workout every single day year round, so why would you treat supplements the same way? Constant use of some supplements will prove to have diminishing returns over an extended period of time. While every case is individual and specific to that athlete’s goals, it is a best practice to block out “on” and “off” times for most supplements. This gives your body time to adapt to the use of the supplement and enjoy the increases in performance, as well as grow and adapt on it’s own while not using it. Remember to always research and consult with your coach first to determine the best course of action within your season and objectives.
There Are No Shortcuts
When considering a supplement, we always advise being brutally honest about the driving factor for this search. What we mean is every athlete when considering a supplement should ask themselves if they are already doing everything the can to accomplish what the objective of taking the supplement is. For example, if an athlete is considering using a weight loss supplement (which is never a good idea), but eats a diet consisting primarily of fast food, then they are looking in the wrong place. The opposite example is a body builder looking to increase muscle mass that would have to consume 20 chicken breasts/day to reach their required protein intake. But instead that same body builder could supplement some of the chicken breasts with an easier to digest protein shake. Then this is a more viable and honest option. Always make sure you are doing everything possible to achieve your objective before looking for outside help. And remember, if a supplement claims to be able to do something that seems to good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true!
Every day science is proving that with great data tracking and attention to detail, incredible performances previously thought impossible and becoming common place in all sports. With dedication and proper direction, amazing things can be accomplished through proper nutrition and training. Always consult directly with your coach and physician before making any changes to your regimen. If you have further questions or would like to suggest topics for future posts, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org