What about supplements? Is it vital or is it a foe?
A supplement is useful if the athlete cannot include certain foods or food groups in their diet for reasons such as allergies, intolerances etc. However, they are not essential. Sports supplements such as shakes, recovery drinks, gels, bars etc. are often more convenient for the athlete when used correctly, however even these are not always necessary.
Apart from carbohydrate energy drinks, gels, and bars (also termed ‘sport foods’) that can play a role especially during endurance events to maintain normal blood sugar levels, the efficacy of the majority of other supplements can’t be backed up by scientific evidence. In my opinion, apart from a few exceptions, supplements in general are a foe!
Supplements are never a necessity, but they can maybe make life easier for the athlete that needs to eat great volumes of food. Is the nutritional value that the athlete gets from supplements any BETTER than that in food? The answer is NO. It is therefore not vital to use supplements, unless:
- the athlete is eating too little (at a great energy deficit),
- is eliminating certain foods or food groups from their diet,
- is recovering from illness or is just an overall fussy eater.
In these conditions, the athlete may consider supplementation but must pay careful consideration to their nutritional goals prior to committing to supplement use.