Athletes turn to supplements to fill nutritional gaps or gain a competitive edge. Knowing your way around the supplement aisle is important for your athlete.
Welcome back Beth Jessop from Sports Mom’s United. While my expertise is understanding the recruiting process, Beth’s expertise is helping mom’s feed their kids to fuel their dreams of becoming college athletes. Many athletes consider supplements a key component of fueling their bodies for competition. But the choices are both overwhelming and potentially dangerous. Today Beth gives us a great introduction to the supplement aisle.
I love this quote from Dr. Mark Hyman, “Food is not just calories. It’s information. It talks to your DNA and tells it what to do.”
Wow! That’s powerful. In a perfect world, our athletes would get all the nutrition they need from their food. Unfortunately, for many reasons, our athletes are often left with nutritional gaps that need to be filled. In many cases, athletes turn to the supplement industry to fill the gaps. It’s a HUGE industry filled with good and bad products. Knowing your way around the supplement aisle is super important for you and your athlete.
Where should you start if your child is considering taking supplements?
The first question to address is, do supplements even work? The answer is some do, some don’t. At best, they can help fill nutritional gaps and improve performance and at worst, waste money, and cause harm. I don’t want you to waste money and I don’t want to see ANY athlete harmed, so we are going to dive in together and cover a few topics to help make sense of supplements.
Are there good reasons for athletes to take supplements?
As I mentioned earlier, our athletes should have a FOOD FIRST philosophy. They should try and get everything they need from whole food sources, but because of hectic schedules and food sources with fewer nutrients, it can be tough. Supplementing becomes a great way to fill the gaps.
Speaking of hectic schedules, supplementing is convenient. Getting nutrients from a protein shake that only takes a few minutes to blend can be a time-saver. But remember that supplements should always be the second line of defense. Athletes should be supplementing a healthy diet.
Are there good reasons for athletes to avoid taking supplements?
Because the supplement industry is unregulated and not controlled by the FDA, many products are simply not tested, ineffective and a total waste of money. Some ingredients in a supplement may be prohibited by the athlete’s school (NCAA, USOC) which can cost an athlete their athletic career. Some supplements have found to be tainted or contaminated and harmful.
What this means is there are risks associated with athletes taking an unregulated supplement, but there are also rewards if they learn to take the right ones at the right time.
What should your child avoid when looking at supplements?
Imagine your athlete brings home a supplement that looks good with lots of buzz words on the packaging. There is an “energy blend” and some “secret ingredients” to help your athlete’s performance. Sounds good, right? But here’s where we must stop and take a closer look at the label itself, not just the marketing on the front of the package. Remember all those buzz words are used to sell you the product and may not be in your best interest. So, avoiding products with marketing hype or buzz words is a good place to start.
Then what should you be looking for? There are some important things that you should always look for when choosing supplements.
- First, you need to make sure that the product has been 3rd party tested and verified. The highest standard in testing is the NSF certification for sport. Major league baseball uses only NSF Certified for Sport supplements for its players. If it’s what the pros do, you should consider it for your athlete too. NSF certification verifies that the product is safe and clean.
- Second, you need to look for a nutrition label rather than a supplement label and here’s why. Remember that part about a FOOD FIRST philosophy? When you find a nutrition label rather than a supplement label on the package, you are looking at a product that is food-based. A supplement label indicates that it is most likely man-made or a synthetic supplement. It’s always best to start with food-based supplements.
- Third, you need to look for product and company transparency. I look for links to research on the product website. I want to see the full list of ingredients as well. It’s important that we know what is going into our athlete’s body. If the company can’t provide me with these details, I don’t trust the product will provide what we need either.
Don’t buy until you do your research about the supplements you are interested in taking.
Great resources to verify product information.
Here are several resources for you to use when choosing supplements:
The supplement industry contributes millions of dollars to the economy. It also contributes to over 20,000 visits annually to emergency rooms.
If you and your athlete decide that supplementing a healthy diet is necessary, make sure to use the above resources to feel confident in your supplement choices.
- From Bryan: If fueling your own athlete is important to you, check out more from Beth at Sports Moms United. At Sports Moms United you will find articles to support you. If you would like personal attention and menus designed for on-the-go families and a private Facebook community, Beth has developed a system to assist you. My wife has been using Beth’s menus and support for two weeks now. Last night we ate a fabulous Barbacoa Chicken dinner from Beth’s weekly meal plan.
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Beth is a former college athlete who played basketball at Washburn University and once an athlete, always an athlete! It’s in her blood. But as she moved to her new role in life (Sports Mom to her amazing little athletes, Avry and Beau) she quickly realized she wanted to help other Sports Moms and their athletes learn from her mistakes. This is where two of her passions came together….sports and nutrition.
She found that so many athletes and parents just don’t know where to go, what to do, or how important nutrition really is for an athlete as they move to the next level.
Beth created her company, Sports Moms United, to educate, support, and provide resources to busy Sports Moms so they can raise nutritionally fit, physically fit and mentally fit athletes…for now and for a lifetime.
Next, check out: Do Things Fall Apart at Dinner Time?
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