Athlete Supplements: What You Need, What’s Essential, And Where To Get It
A quick google about the world of athlete supplements will bring up a wealth of misinformation, mostly driven by big pharma companies and MONEY, mixed with a healthy dose of terrible regulation. A solid sales writer is all too often hired to write about a pill with a *proprietary formula* that is 99% flour.
Call me a cynic but convincing people that newly generated pills are the magic bullet for people trying to get lean is just nonsense preying on the desperation and insecurities of humans. Hopefully our community are smart enough not to go down this road.
As a professional athlete, I saved myself a lot of time and money by covering my bases and it didn’t stop me from becoming a successful athlete, nor do I ever wish I had taken [insert hyperbole supplement]- not least because taking such a risk with my body is greater than the reward and further, jeopardizing the careers of me or my teammates due to failing a drugs test would have devastating effects.
There are very few supplements I would recommend for optimal health and performance but these listed below have been of critical importance.
N.B If you are competing, I would always look for an accredited safe certification label on your products, such as the one by Informed Sport/Informed Choice. Note this does not guarantee these athlete supplements are banned substance free by WADA, BUT it does mean that they participate in a random sampling protocol from each batch which is independently verified, so the risk might be perceived to be less. Ultimately, you are the decision maker and you are responsible for any consequences from supplementation.
A daily multi is a great way to make sure that you have covered all bases, and I recommend these especially when you are travelling and eating all kinds of different foods- it’s peace of mind that you are not running any deficiencies. I take a multi all year round and I use Klean Multivitamin from Klean Athlete here.
Omega 3 Fish Oils
Benefits are literally hundreds, but key ones to mention here are anti-inflammatory properties and joint support, both essential when following a heavy training schedule! Not to mention nervous system support. To get the minimum recommended amount of EPA+DHA you should take 2 capsules daily, which should provide at around 600mg of EPA+DHA. For the best benefits there is a lot of research to suggest working up to around 40mg/kg bodyweight, which would be around 9-10 capsule a day. I have done this for a while and felt great, but I wouldn’t say I found it hugely necessary and I tend to take 2x 2 capsules a day. These are 1000mg capsules, with 330mg EPA and 233mg DHA per two soft-gels, and are much cheaper in bulk from somewhere like BulkSupplements:
As a Caucasian male living in the UK, this was revolutionary for me, (even more so when competing around the world all winter) and I still continue to take a vitamin D supplement every day in California just the same. For most of us, we don’t get outside as much as we should, but then also don’t want the negative effects of sun exposure. Main benefits include support of the immune system, brain and nervous system, cardiovascular health, strong bones and teeth, cancer risk reduction, and these are just the physiological benefits, we haven’t even touched on the psychological ones! The majority of the western world are vitamin D deficient according to latest research. It’s cheap too, for 100 UI 5000 it’s $11.90 right now from Douglas Laboratories.
Whey protein is best consumed straight after your exercise session, and really kick-starts your recovery process as it is quickly absorbed. For the unaware, protein is a critical part of recovery and adaptation to your training, and is essentially the building blocks to help you transition. I’m not going to go into recommended amounts here as it depends on a lot of factors, and whilst I agree it is always better to go with real foods first, I don’t carry steak to the gym- protein powder is way more convenient. MyProtein is a safe bet many tend to start on but there is literally hundreds of different ones.
Casein is a great choice for a slower absorbing protein, useful if you want to bump up your protein intake throughout the day. Less useful post training, but better for anytime throughout the day, and great before bed. Can taste a little chalky, but a great supplement for your arsenal if you have trouble getting enough protein from decent sources. Helps keep you fuller for longer too! You might want to get everything from the same place in which case MyProtein is first choice, but this one I have used is from Optimum Nutrition.
I understand the NCAA rules on creatine are a little strange (and on other athlete supplements too), so I am not going to comment on it. Outside of the NCAA, creatine is an incredibly effective supplement for strength and power sports and one of the best athlete supplements around. It is one of very few substances that has the claims backed up by a TONNE of research. Typically 5-10% increases in strength and power are not uncommon. Don’t be drawn in by extra hyperbole, get a basic, high quality creatine like this one.
I take a little extra zinc before bed to help support my recovery further, and it really helps me get a great nights sleep. Zinc helps support the normal function of the skeletal, immune, neurological and endocrine systems. Zinc Picolinate is a better quality of zinc and I take one of these each day.
• A solid Multi-vitamin to make sure you are not missing anything in your diet (perhaps one specific to athletes)
• Omega 3 Fish Oils
• Vitamin D
• Whey Protein
• Casein Protein
• Creatine (NCAA has some interesting views on this so do check)
I hope this article helps someone looking for athlete supplements! Feel free to share it with people who might benefit from it!!
The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plans. Further, athletes are reminded that they take supplements at their own risk. The information in this article does not constitute prescriptive advice, and is for information purposes only. As an amazon affiliate, clicking these links helps support the existence of Athletes Insight. Integrity is everything to me, and I have only listed products that I personally use.