As a strength coach, you will face the same question everyday: What supplement should I take to improve my performance? I really don’t like this question, as most of time I feel like what athletes are really asking is: What magic pill can I take to replace the benefits I could have from good nutrition since I’m too lazy to eat well?
It really comes down to the fact that I really don’t recomment any supplement to anyone unless they at least make a conscious effort of eating well. Supplements should be used to give an edge on your performance when you already have a proper diet or to help you recover better in times of more intense training/practice volume. I don’t think supplements should ever be used to compensate for a shitty diet and lifestyle.
Does this look like your lunch box? If so, supplements are definitely not what you need
The first step to make to help you improve your performance and recovery is by making sure you have a good diet. What I mean by this is: eat enough protein, eat every 3-4 hours, eat mostly whole foods like fruits, vegetables and meat, stay away from food products as much as possible, etc. Most young athletes don’t realize how much of an impact nutrition actually has on their performance. It’s really important to make them realize it and help them improve their diet before we recommend any supplement.
That being said, I am not against supplements at all. It’s just about which one to take because there is so much crap on the supplement market; I would easily say over 90% of the supplements out there are totally worthless and they do nothing but making you waste your money.
Most useless supplement ever?
Here is a list of the supplements I feel comfortable recommending because they have proven effective by the research out there and by the athletes to whom I’ve recommended these supplements.
- Fish Oil. This is a staple supplement for everyone. Numerous studies have proven it is effective for a number of things including: improving memory and fighting Alzeimer, reducing cardiovascular disease risks, maintain joints health, helping improve body composition and the list goes on and on.
- Vitamin D. Another staple, especially in the northern regions because we are rarely if ever getting enough vitamin D from the sun. Helps prevent different type of cancers, reduce risks of diabetes, help prevent chronic fatigue and depression, etc.
- Multivitamin. Unless you’re eating all organic food, I definitely recommend taking a multivitamin because the quality of the food we eat in 2010 might not that great with all the pesticides, chemicals and preservatives that are used.
- Greens supplement. The reason I feel this is a staple is that even if you eat well there are very little chances that you match your fruits and vegetables requirement every single day. I personnaly use it on days I don’t get enough fruits and veggies, but I would also recommend it to someone who’s always on the road from playing a high level sport or just because of work.
- ZMA. Improves your sleep quality BIG time, improves your recovery and increase the production of testosterone and growth hormones. Simply awesome. Nothing else to say about it.
- Creatine. Not necessarily a supplement I would take year round, but I like creatine once in a while to improve recovery. It can be very useful in times of high and intense training volumes.
- Beta-Alanine. Similar to creatine, beta-alanine helps improve recovery. It acts differently than creatine as it allows you to do more work in the same amount of time. It’s really effective for everything that’s anaerobic lactic based (20-90 sec). Hockey players love it.