Supplements for the young athlete. Necessity or hype?
In the previous Blog Osgood Schlatter's disease was discussed, we zoomed in on the influence of growth during puberty on the skeleton and muscles.
A topic that is directly linked to this is the need of the muscles for sufficient "nutrition" to be able to deliver sporting performance at a high level.
But what if the young body is not (yet) able to deliver the right elemental amounts or the required quantities during the growing period in puberty, in combination with a change in hormone balance?
Even then you get a teenager who is lying listless on the couch, is unable to concentrate and prefers to sleep all day. Because in addition to the enormous burden that the growth of the body entails, the body also needs sufficient nutrition to keep up with that growth spurt. And if intensive sporting performance is also required, there is only one consequence; the body no longer functions.
In addition to the symptoms listed above, this can also translate into pain. The muscles need energy, but do not get enough of this. The golden rule of top athletes is regularity. Sleep, eat, and train. Because the body needs food, this entire pattern can be disrupted. Although the athlete is tired, falling asleep can be difficult.
What to do with a teenager who eats like a horse but whose body indicates that this is still not enough. Is it justified to provide additional nutritional supplements?
The answer is personally for everyone. But I think there are dietary supplements that can safely be used by the adolescent top athlete.
Don’t use composite supplements where the origin is not clear, after all, you must always keep in mind that your child wants to exercise without doping. Always ask for a certificate that the supplements meet the guidelines of the WADA.
Naturally, a balanced diet is a necessity and is always preferable to any dietary supplement. If you eat a varied, regular and healthy diet, it is probably not even necessary to think about supplementing vitamins or minerals.
It is absolutely worthwhile to delve into the contribution of the various types of vegetables, fruit, dairy, fish and meat products to see what it can add to your sports diet.
But not every body uses the same amounts of vitamins and minerals. There are ‘body-specific’ substances (for example ‘creatine’) that you need, and your body provides it naturally to function properly. But, as said, not everybody is the same, not every sport requires the same energy supply and muscle strength and not everybody makes enough substances by nature to keep up with the sports performances.
So it might be useful to consider the following examples to help the body during exercise and recovery:
Is naturally found in meat and fish, but the body also makes this substance itself. It has the effect that it provides better muscle recovery after effort; it gives more energy and a better endurance. In addition, it ensures better energy supply to the brain.
Unlike creatine, our bodies do not produce magnesium themselves. But it is important for energy metabolism, muscle building, transfer of nerve impulses and the firmness of a skeleton. Magnesium is mainly found in nuts, grains and green vegetables.
3. Whey protein. This is a preparation that is made from the protein of whey, a by-product that is created during the production of cheese from cow's milk. The effect of this preparation is mainly due to the correct composition of the amino acids. Strength athletes can greatly benefit from this supplement because it contributes to better muscle recovery after intensive (strength) training.
In another blog we will explain the effect and properties of vitamins, minerals and other supplements in more detail.
The aforementioned nutritional supplements are pure substances, and it is still important only to use nutritional supplements that have a certificate proving that they are 100% doping free. But if you have doubts about whether it is suitable for your teenager, you can ask for professional advice if necessary. The additions do not have to be permanent, sometimes temporarily use is already enough to help your child through, for example, an intensive training period during the growth spurt. But every body works differently. If a medical test shows that your child has different standard values, make sure you have this recorded in a medical passport. This can prevent future discussions during possible doping controls.
And here too applies; use common sense. If your teenager is tired but not worn out at the end of every workout, if the recovery periods after a workout or competition are natural and if your young athlete does not complain about extremely sore muscles nor has difficulty concentrating, in general, there should not be a reason to think about dietary supplements.
But sometimes it can make a world of difference. Not only in sports performance, but in the entire physical and mental condition. And then nutritional supplements are not hype but a necessity.