Supplements for muscle growth? 5 things teen athletes need to know...
It happens every year around this time... athletes trying to "gain" in the off-season reach for supplements recommended by teammates, trainers, coaches, or friends.
But, just because they're readily available doesn't mean they're the best or safest choice- especially for youth and teen athletes.
1- "Post Workout Protein" is marketing BS. During the "glycogen window" (30-45 minutes post-workout), the body is MOST replenishing spent glycogen... aka carbohydrates (protein and fat are a bonus, and ONLY if you're hungry PWO).
2- "Safe for Kids" doesn't mean "Tested on Kids." There are no requirements on who or how many people a product is tested on for safety and effectiveness. Most supplements are never tested on kids: partially because it's expensive, it's invasive, and kids are at various stages of puberty, so results would be inefficient.
3. What's on the label isn't always what's in the package and vice versa ("proprietary blend can be a 🚩) 3rd party verification testing is not required for the supplement industry. Food allergies? Drug testing? The ultimate responsibility falls entirely on the athlete to know what they're taking... REGARDLESS of who recommended it.
4. NSF Sport is 3rd party verification that the product and ingredients match. It also verifies that limits of banned substances for MOST organizations are not included. Those lists can change at any time.
5. If you eat meat, poultry, seafood, pork, dairy, eggs, quinoa, edamame, or tofu- your body is already getting BCAA's, creatine, AND the other 17 amino acids needed.
And, by definition, supplements aren't intended to replace a meal (many "high protein" drinks & products far exceed the protein needs for most youth/young teen athletes for a snack or meal).
Again, I'm not saying that there aren't great supplement companies out there and there aren't great products... but they aren't without significant risks- ESPECIALLY for youth/teen athletes.
So which supplements do I recommend?
I take the same stance as the NCAA… there aren’t any I suggest- but I can help decode labels and calculate individual protein needs for athletes to see if they even need it.
Interestingly, after working with hundreds of athletes/families around the country- even with extremely picky eaters- meeting protein needs hasn't been close to their top-fueling challenge.
Remember fueling youth and teen athletes isn’t just for their endless activity - but for growth too!! Yes, fat and protein are essential, but kids need carbs more than anything!
Before guessing if you need them or spending money on supplements, let's look closer at how they’re already fueling.
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