All athletes want to perform at the highest possible level. With that in mind, many turn to supplements in the hopes of improving themselves, be it in respect to strength, speed or mental acuity. Let’s look at the most common supplements and see what science says about their efficacy.
Research has proven that those athletes who follow a well balanced diet do not seem to gain any benefits by taking vitamin supplements. It must be said that no negative consequences have been found by those who take vitamins. So, if you are eating correctly, there is no need. If you do take them, though, be confident that you will not be harmed.
One exception to this can be made: some females can benefit from iron or calcium supplements.
Protein and Amino Acids
Ah, the ubiquitous protein shake that’s found in field houses around the nation.
To put it succinctly: not needed. Why? Athletes drink these shakes in the expectation of increasing muscle mass. True, most people get bigger when they are drink them. Surprisingly, though, the increase in mass is almost completely derived from the calories consumed and not excess protein. The protein found in a balanced diet is more than enough to build muscle.
Because these are relatively new to the market, not much science has been done investigating them. The results are mixed: they help (no, they don’t–the additional calories are what helps), they reduce muscle soreness (no they don’t. In fact, they have no impact whatsoever).
What the studies have agreed upon is that there does not seem to be any danger in drinking them.
This was huge at McCallum around a decade ago. In fact, a local news station did a story on our athletes using creatine shakes as part of their workout routine.
Creatine is a naturally occuring compound that is found in muscles. It is one of the fuels for short term energy production and seems to increase muscle glycogen levels. Sounds good so far. But, as Lee Corso says, “Not so fast, my friend.”
There are no good studies that show potential side effects of using creatine in younger athletes. The studies do show, however, that creatine could promote muscle cramping, especially in heat. This potential side effect alone should sway you from taking this supplement.
Most nutritionists clearly state that creatine should not be taken by young athletes. Besides, enough creatine is found in fish, white meat, and red meat to satisfy an athlete’s needs.
Conclusion: a good diet will provide all creatine needed by muscles.