Should Athletes Use Supplements? A Comprehensive Study

When we are trying to perform at our very best as a pro athlete or as an amateur, taking supplements seems to be the thing to do. But, is that the best way to go? And, what is that really based on? The British Journal of Sports Medicine just published a super comprehensive study regarding all things about supplementation and the high-performance athlete.

If you are currently using supplements whether you are an athlete or not, I suggest you read the full study. It also contains some great graphs and specific supplementation information.

My personal view is that you should always start with a whole foods nutrient dense diet, and base your nutritional intake on that. In case you feel the need for a supplementation, do your very best in finding out where that company is sourcing its ingredients, so that you really get what you are after, and not a bunch of bad for you add-ins.

If you don’t have time to read the complete study right now, below are some excerpts to keep in mind from the study.

"Performance-enhancing supplements should be considered only where a strong evidence base supports their use as safe, legal and effective, and ideally after adequacy of sports nutrition dietary practices is ensured."

“Athletes are not immune to the inadequate eating practices or the increased nutrient loss/requirements found in some members of the general population and may even be at greater risk of deficiencies because of increased nutrient turnover or increased losses.”

“Adverse effects from the use of supplements may arise from a number of factors, including the safety and composition of the product per se and inappropriate patterns of use by athletes. Poor practices by athletes include the indiscriminate mixing and matching of many products without regard to total doses of some ingredients or problematic interactions between ingredients.”

Athletes and members of their support team should be aware of the regulations that govern the manufacture and marketing of supplements. According to the 1994 DSHEA (https://ods.od.nih.gov/About/DSHEA_Wording.aspx) passed by US Congress, nutritional supplements sold in the USA that do not claim to diagnose, prevent or cure disease are not subject to regulation by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). Similar regulations apply in most other countries, where supplements are regulated in the same way as food ingredients and are therefore not subject to the stringent regulations that are applied to the pharmaceutical industry. This means that there is no requirement to prove claimed benefits, no requirement to show safety with acute or chronic administration, no quality assurance of content, and liberal labelling requirements.”

“The biggest concern for athletes who compete under an antidoping code (usually the World Anti-Doping Code, as published by WADA) is that supplements can contain prohibited substances that result in an antidoping rule violation (ADRV). Athletes—and their support teams—may be at risk for an ADRV if there is evidence that they have used or attempted to use products containing ingredients on the Prohibited List (www.wada.ama.org). A common problem is the recording of an adverse analytical finding (AAF) of a prohibited substance in a urine sample (‘positive drug test’) as a result of supplement use.”

“For these athletes in particular, even if the ingestion of the prohibited substance was unintentional, the rules of strict liability within the World Anti-Doping Code mean that an AAF will be recorded, and may mean the loss of medals won or records set, and financial sanctions as well as temporary or permanent suspension from competition. It also damages the athlete’s reputation and may lead to loss of employment and income through failed sponsorship opportunities.”

“In deciding whether to use a supplement, athletes should consider all aspects of their maturation in, and preparation for, their event to ensure that the supplement under consideration provides an advantage that no other strategy can address. “

Conclusion

“Dietary supplements can play a small role in an athlete’s sports nutrition plan, with products that include essential micronutrients, sports foods, performance supplements and health supplements all potentially providing benefits. Some supplements, when used appropriately, may help athletes to meet sports nutrition goals, train hard, and stay healthy and injury-free. A few supplements can directly enhance competition performance. However, it takes considerable effort and expert knowledge to identify which products are appropriate, how to integrate them into the athlete’s sports nutrition plan, and how to ensure that any benefits outweigh the possible negative side effects, including the potential for an ADRV. A strict risk-benefit analysis involving a decision tree approach to the effectiveness, safety and risks should identify the small number of products that may benefit the athlete. Such an analysis requires the input of a well-informed sports nutrition professional.”

I hope that this article has given you some food for thought  😉
Have an amazing weekend!

 

 

 

 



http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/7/439.long

http://www.informed-sport.com/news/australian-supplements-survey-highlights-need-testing

https://www.wada-ama.org/en/media/news/2017-09/wada-publishes-2018-list-of-prohibited-substances-and-methods