Supplements for the Teenage Athlete
April 6, 2015
We are all familiar with the images of body builders and professional athletes looking lean and muscular on TV, in movies, in magazines and on the internet. It seems that their physiques are unattainable and yet necessary to be a successful athlete. Often the athlete or body builder may endorse a supplement or training program and insist that is what worked for them when in reality it did not, and they are getting paid to say it. Once a teenage athlete sees these endorsements and advertisements it becomes clear that in order to obtain this physique they need to be taking the same supplements and doing the same training routines. The truth of the matter is, is that they don’t.
Supplements are essentially something you eat or drink to enhance your normal diet. They can aid in preparing your body for training, for post training recovery and for energy. Under normal circumstances with a balanced diet and low to moderate levels of exercise, supplements are not necessary. In highly active individuals a normal diet may be insufficient due to the increased calorie needs.
As a teenager, if you find that you are training correctly and hard but not gaining strength, weight or unable to recover from one training session to the next you need to focus on increasing your calorie intake. Increasing your calorie intake by 250-500 calories “should” get you recovering, gaining strength and weight. Keep track of your training, diet, weight, strength and recovery. If you do not see improvements then supplements may be your answer.
When it comes to supplements keep it simple. Do not get fancy. If your body doesn’t need it, it will be excreted in your urine. Out of the many different kinds of supplements there is only a handful to consider. There are 4 supplements, 3 of which are what we call basic supplements and a fourth that is also beneficial, but not necessary. The 3 are multivitamins, whey protein and fish oil. The fourth is creatine.
While a balanced diet with sufficient nutrients provides enough vitamins and minerals, diets are not always balanced. Taking a multivitamin each day helps to provide all the vitamins and minerals your body needs particularly during times of stress and inadequate caloric intake.
It typically takes 2 hours or more for your body to absorb protein from whole food. Whey protein is a fast digesting and absorbing protein. It takes less than an hour to absorb which makes it ideal for pre and post workout nutrition needs. Whey protein can also be used at any other time of day to meet your protein intake requirements.
Fish oil is contains Omega 3 fatty acids which are important essential fatty acids that have been shown to improve body composition and have many other health benefits.
These basic supplements enhance recovery after a workout. The next supplement, creatine, is perhaps the most researched and most used of all supplements when it comes to athletics. Creatine can be purchased in a variety of different forms, but the most common and most researched is creatine monohydrate. We can get creatine from eating meat and our body makes it. It is used as the primary energy source to perform short term, high intensity exercise. Taking a creatine supplement allows for faster recovery during training sessions. Creatine Monohydrate
These 4 supplements cannot make up for a poor diet and poor training program. These have been shown to be safe and effective, however if you have kidney problems you should talk to your doctor before using these.
There are many other supplements that promise fat loss and muscle gain, but not only are they not necessary, they could be unsafe and/or ineffective.