In-season Eating Habits
Part 3 – Supplements
According to many medical studies, supplements are a requirement to meet and improve your health and nutritional needs. Require is a strong word, implying that you NEED supplements to make the road easier to gain or lose weight. While I partially agree with the necessity of supplements, I still do prefer whole food as the primary source of nutrients.
Supplements should be exactly that: a supplement to an already pristine diet.
Is your diet perfect? – Probably not. Is mine? – You bet your ass it is! So I can use supplements and you can’t! Plain and simple huh?
Let’s move on.
Supplements should only be used to improve the intrinsic functions of the body and to correct a deficiency of certain nutrients. Without fueling your body with the proper food sources, performance and recovery will suffer.
Although all the nutrients can be derived from whole food, it is not always feasible.
Who would want to choke down a piece of chicken and mango in between shifts? – Definitely not me.
It seems more practical to sip on a protein/amino acid and CHO/electrolyte blend drink. The point I’m trying to make is sometimes it’s just plain easier to get your nutrients in liquid form, and that’s not a bad thing.
Now that the ground rules have been set and my rambles are out of the way, comes the time where I recommend some supplements to you. (*Side note: I only recommend products I have tried before and have seen positive reputable results with*)
Use a serving or two as part of a snack (when real whole food is unavailable), or immediately before and/or after a training session.
Recommended Brands: E.D.G.E. Protein Isolate, Ovation bioactive. (I like these brands because of the simple ingredients inside. Ovation bioactive whey concentrate: 100% pure undenatured ultra-filtered cold pressed whey protein concentrate, cocoa powder, natural flavors, and stevia extract. – That’s it!)
Fish Oil (Omega-3’s):
Aim for 6-12 daily grams of total fish oil per day (about 3-6 grams of EPA + DHA). Sound like a lot? Forget the capsules; take liquid fish oil for the simple reason that it’s easier to swallow a tablespoon of liquid than a bunch of capsules.
A trick to see if the product you’re holding is worth your hard earned money is to add up the amounts of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) & DHA (docosahexonaeic acid) listed on the back and make sure the total is at least 300 mg per 1000 mg capsule. This will make it easier to get the suggested daily dose. In addition, some supplement companies put lower-quality oil into capsules (or secretly cut it with soy oil).
Look for small-fish-based combinations in the product (e.g. herring, mackerel). Small fish are lower on the food chain and therefore less likely to accumulate environmental toxins.
With lots of omega-3s, muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin, while fat cells decrease. This may mean that the body can divert more nutrients to muscle tissue. DHA and EPA can ramp up your metabolism by increasing the levels of enzymes (proteins found in the body that increase the rate of chemical reactions) that boost calorie-burning ability. Omega-3s are also a strong anti-inflammatory!
Recommended Brands: NutraSea, Biotest: Flameout, Carlson Labs Elite Omega Fish oil (vitacost.com)
Hockey players and non-hockey playing athletes should make fish oil and whey protein a staple of their supplementation. In fact non-athletes can take these supplements as part of improving their overall health too!
Before you ask, let me answer: Does this apply to your teenager? Truth is there is little research looking at the safety of these things in teenagers, and it is unlikely that there will ever be. Research on minors is plagued with ethical obstacles.
Don’t worry there isn’t any reason to think that a teenager would respond significantly different to an adult with respect to the supplements above.
Whether or not your son/daughter should or should not take supplements dwells more on the psychological aspect of improvement than the physiological at a young age. Supplements should not be used as a quick fix to a poor diet. As I’ve said before, I strongly believe that you should look into whole food as a primary source of nutrients.
The best uses of supplements I’ve seen is when they are coupled with a mediocre diet. This usually aids young athletes to be more compliant to their training program and in turn, help learn more about nutrition and health. This can easily be the door to better nutrient choices in the future! Young athletes need to be educated of how to eat well to compliment supplement usage.
In the end, make sure you and your teenage athlete are aware that supplements are like a pawn in the quest for health. They are valuable and can help you win, but chances are without other support systems in place, their impact will be limited
Stay smart and question everything.
To your success,