by Dr. Chris Mohr, PhD, RD
There are over 29,000 dietary supplements available.
From creatine to fat burners, whey protein to weight gain formulas.
Do you need a supplement to perform at your best?
While giving a talk recently to high school football players, I asked the team this question:
How many of you take dietary supplements?
About 95% of the athletes raised their hands.
I then asked this follow up question.
How many of you ate breakfast this morning?
3 hands out of the entire team went up.
There is a big disconnect there. Why is virtually the entire team taking a supplement(s) but not eating the absolute most critical meal of the entire day?
Dietary supplements are exactly as their name implies; supplements to the diet.
It’s important to remember, though, without a strong foundation of the right fuel for your body (from real food), supplements cannot make up for deficiencies. With that said, a basic multivitamin is a smart idea. It’s not there to replace nutrients from a diet filled with empty calories and loaded with sugar. A basic multivitamin is instead there to complement a solid nutrition program.
When trying to decide if another supplement will enhance your performance, consider these tips and strategies first.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is!
- Are any of the ingredients banned by a governing body or sporting organization (e.g., NCAA, IOC, etc).
- Is every other single aspect of your training optimal (nutrition, strength, clothing, etc).
- Is the product for your particular sport? A supplement that is supposed to increase power would not be warranted for a cross country runner, for example.
Always turn to an unbiased, quality source to assess the particular supplement. Ads in magazines or on TV do not qualify as unbiased sources.
Real food is fuel – without the right “diet” performance will always suffer, regardless of whatever supplement you may take. And the right training, optimal rest, and play are necessary as well. Stick to the basics and you can perform at your best. A simple multivitamin is a smart complement, but shy away from performance supplements that are consistently overhyped and full of empty promises.
– Dr. Chris Mohr
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