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Should Youth Athletes Take Supplements?

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Should Youth Athletes Take Supplements?

A well-balanced diet filled with plenty of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruits and vegetables, along with 8-10 hours of sleep a night, is all your young athletes needs to recover from the heard work they are doing each week and ensuring they are still making progress.

When these foundations have been set and the habits are engrained into everyday behaviour, that's when you can start introducing supplements to aid and assist in the recovery. There are many different supplements that claim to do a lot of different things and picking which one is the best option can be overwhelming. You should always consult someone in a reputable position who has studied and understands the benefits of using supplementation to point you in the right direction.

It's important to remember that these are supplements and shouldn't be introduced to replace a normal healthy diet and routine. These are the 1% difference makers that have a marginal effect. You won't be able to make progress living off protein shakes and caffeine alone.

Here are 3 options to look for and 3 options that are going to be a waste of your money.

Three supplements to look for:

1.  Protein Powder

  • Protein powders are a handy tool to help get protein in quickly if you don't have time to prepare a full meal. A protein shake in the morning before school, after swimming or on your way home from training can help tide you over before a proper meal. Using a protein shake as the milk for your cereal is a good way of adding some protein to a pretty nutrient lacking meal.
  • Finding a brand like bulk powders and bulk nutrients which don't utilise the fancy advertising and flashy packages are a great choice to save some money and sift out all the useless filler ingredients found in the bigger companies.

2.  Creatine Monohydrate

  • Creatine has been shown to increase muscle mass and strength when combined with strength training after being taken for a prolonged period of time.
  • Creatine can be found in red meat and seafood, however, taking a creatine supplement is an objective way to know exactly how much you are getting each day.
  • 5g of creatine each day is the recommended amount.

3.  Vitamins

  • Vitamins like calcium, vitamin D and iron are important for athletes and young adolescents in general. Calcium and vitamin D can be found in dairy products, dark green vegetables, fish and from the sun. These two supplements are especially important for bone density and muscle mass, which can help reduce the risk of injury of broken bones.
  • Iron deficiency is a common problem amongst young females and some males and can be detrimental to endurance but also overall energy levels. Iron can be dosed with a supplement but is found in red meat as well.


3 Supplements to Avoid:

1.  BCAA's

  • There is very little evidence that suggests that branch chain amino acids contribute and assist with building muscle. If you are eating around 1.6g of protein per kilo of body weight, you'll be getting all the protein you need to be building muscle each week.

2.  Fat Burners

  • If something sounds too good to be true then it probably is. If it was as easy as taking a couple pills to lose weight, then we wouldn't be having an obesity epidemic at the moment. These products are just a scam to get you spending your hard-earned money and looking for people who want to find the easy way out. Regular exercising and eating in a sensible calorie deficit each week will allow you to lose weight over the long term. As young teens you don't want to be getting too caught up into the weight loss pressures at such a young age, as this can have effects on your mental wellbeing.

3.  Pre-workout

  • I understand everyone likes to walk into the gym amped and ready for a great workout, and I'm not saying you should never take a pre-workout. I think they're fine every now and then. However you don't want to reply on pre-workout as your only motivation for a good workout.
  • Avoid getting stuck in the cycle where you need caffeine and stimulant effect to get you through the sessions. Doing this is only going to lead to you becoming too dependent on caffeine rather than sleep and good food. Most of the pre-workouts are underdosed with ingredients and it's the placebo effect that leaves you feeling full of energy.

Want more information? Listen to the Inner Athlete podcast 'Debunking Supplements And Are They Worth It?

Matt Hucul
Junior Strength Coach
Inner Athlete (AUS)

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