I am delighted to introduce the newest addition to the Elevate team, Sport Scientist and Coach, Aleks Naes-Clarke. Aleks graduated from Swansea University with a degree in Sport Science with a specialism in Strength & Conditioning, Biomechanics, Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Aleks is a Norway Senior International Rugby player and assistant coach to Norway U18s. He has put together the following blog piece to help guide you and answer some of your questions about supplements.
Nutritional Supplements | Effectiveness, Safety and Keeping it Legal.
It wouldn’t be the same without seeing the biggest guy in the gym drinking his favourite pre workout followed by another “post workout” protein shake. Even the personal trainers will say that this guy is the perfect role model for the gym but what people do not realise is that his life may be at risk from the supplements he is taking. In this article I aim to give you some perspective on the use of supplements by the general public and shed some light on the truth about safety when choosing a product.
The development of supplements was designed for the ELITE athlete to increase performance and make the minute difference between winning and losing. I have written elite in capitals to emphasise that this is whom the supplements were developed for. Elite athletes train very differently to the majority of us. They don’t have the luxury of being able to relax and eat food whenever they want. They train all day with minimal breaks, and during these breaks they get breakfast, lunch and dinner. During other breaks these athletes are advised to take protein and carbohydrate supplements to ensure they get the food required to sustain this training load and perform at their best. Now, the first big issue for us in the amateur sporting field, is that it is easy to believe that taking protein shakes etc. like the elites will result in the same benefits as them.
These products are marketed to the public and at young adults/late teenagers especially. The problem is that the supplements will not have the same impact as it would for a very highly trained athlete with their high training load. My advice is to get your diet, training and rest right before considering supplementation. Supplements are not a shortcut to results. When you do look to add a supplement, start simple and look for high quality products that complement the good work you are already doing in and out of training.
The second big issue is safety. This should not be ignored in the amateur sporting world. It frustrates and concerns me that the trusting public do not understand that taking supplements can be risky business. Many brands are not subjected to what sport scientists like myself call “batch testing.” This is a process whereby a sample from each product run is put through rigorous testing for contaminants and banned substances. Lower quality and non batch tested supplements may contain banned substances such as stimulants, steroids, EPO or even dangerous chemicals and class A drugs. Consuming these substances can result in your receiving a drug ban, even in amateur sports, for cheating without even knowing you were! Worse still, poorly controlled products can cause allergic reactions and life threatening outcomes. The tricky thing is that these companies are allowed to sell these supplements that can contain banned substances, which doesn’t help the situation. For these reasons, it is important to know where your supplements come from if you believe you need them.
To know if the supplements you are interested in using are safe and clean, look for the Informed Sport logo on the label of the product. Having the logo present on the product will show you that the supplement is 99% free from banned substances as these have been checked multiple times. You can also use the Informed Sport website to search your product or medication such as cold and flu tablets to check that they are safe from banned substances. I hope you have found this blog post helpful and I wish you every success in your training and sport.