Sport supplements in youth players- know the facts
Last Updated: April 16, 2009 11:41 AM
Jennifer Gibson Minor Menu
The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar machine, with a new pill or powder on the market almost daily.
Many products are making huge health and performance claims that can be enticing for young hockey athletes.
In addition to being influenced by claims from magazines, young athletes may be interested in using supplements because of pressure from their peers and perhaps even training staff and coaches.
Below is a summary of different "classifications" of supplements.
This classification of supplements tend to be less "risky" for consumption. Before using these products, however, all athletes and parents should discuss use with a medical or nutrition professional (registered dietitian)
Function: Convenience products that provide nutrients found in whole foods. May be used as meal replacement or meet a specific need if diet is insufficient
Examples: Sports drinks, sports bars, liquid meal replacements, protein powders
Function: May be designed to prevent or treat a nutritional deficiency (under the direction of a nutrition or medical professional)
Examples: Multi-vitamins/minerals, specific nutrients (ex. iron, calcium, flax oil supplements)
Nutritional Ergogenic aids
This classification of supplements should not be used by young athletes. The long term risks to health and safety are not known in athletes under the age of 18 years old
Function: Contain larger amounts of nutrients than would be typically found in everyday foods. They claim to have a direct work enhancing effect on performance
Examples: Creatine, caffeine tablets, amino acids, (single or combinations), herbal preparations
Function: Often rely on theoretical or anecdotal support rather than sound scientific evidence
Examples: Fat burners (and many more...)
Eat to Compete and Train to Win
A majority of sport supplements build their marketing campaigns around being the "quick fix".
With their product, they say an athlete can build 20 lbs of muscle in 10 days or lose 100 lbs of fat in three hours, without doing anything more than spending money and taking the supplement.
Although we intuitively know that these things are impossible, these 'too good to be true' product claims really play with our minds. Athletes start to think, "What if I could do that?" and "Would this company be blatantly lying to me? Look at that before and after shot!"
Many young, highly competitive hockey players turn to supplements to seek that 'edge' over their competition. They think that maybe this supplement will be the turning point in their career.
In reality, the best and most successful athletes have built strong foundations in hockey through hard and focused training. You also need to combine this with a strong diet foundation to fuel and recover from training. To be the best at anything requires hard work - no champion has ever come to greatness by way of a 'quick-fix'.
American Academy of Paediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness.
Position on use of performance-enhancing substances (2005). Paediatrics,
115, 1103 - 1106
American College of Sports Medicine. Roundtable: The physiological and health
effects of oral creatine supplementation (2000). Medicine and Science in
Sports and Exercise, 32, 706 - 717
Irish Rugby Football Union Guidelines and Recommendations Sports Supplements
and Young Rugby Players (2007)
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