Supplements are always a hot topic in the fitness world.  I haven’t met many dieticians who think that supplements are beneficial.  That being said it is a billion dollar industry.  Someone is buying these things.  The joke with my friends is that I’m pumping my kids full of horse steroids to dominate the playground.  For the record, I don’t do that.

So why all the controversy with supplements?  Are they beneficial to younger athletes?

I do take supplements.  I’m a big believer in them.  I also promote eating healthy.  Thus, I don’t believe that taking supplemental products gives you the right to eat junk.  Supplements should be used to supplement your existing healthy diet.  To help provide the gaps in your existing nutrition.

I can’t tell you that supplements 100% work.  I do acknowledge there are a lot of junky products out there that are capitalizing on the supplemental hype.  But, if you find the right products, I do think that they help with your overall health and possible athletic performance.

Here is what I do know:

  • I haven’t puked since the mid-80’s and that was because I picked up some flu bug in 8th grade.  I won’t count when I saw that naked old man in the locker room bend over to pick something off the floor a few years back.
  • I can count on one hand how many times I’ve felt nauseous since the early 90’s.
  • Once I improved my diet, adding more fruits and veggies to the mix and supplemental products, the allergies I picked up as an adult, miraculously went away.  Although, I’m still allergic to yard work.
  • Compared to my immediate family (wife and 2 daughters), I don’t get colds as often and if I do they don’t last nearly as long as them who sometimes don’t eat like I do.  I don’t mean to throw them under the bus.  We’ll see if they’re reading this.

My point is I firmly believe because of the exercise, the nutrition, AND the supplements I take that I am healthier than your average individual.

The question is should youth athletes take them?

Let’s first talk about what supplements are NOT.

When I say supplements, I am not talking about horse steroids.  I’m not talking about HGH that gets athletes in trouble.  I’m not talking about taking steroids that have fancy nicknames or 10+ letters in the name, none of which are vowels.  I’m not talking about products that are manufactured in Canada or Mexico to skirt or FDA regulations.  I’m not talking about anything you have to inject into your a$$ with a needle.

I’m also not talking about anything that is banned on the NCAA list or any list for that matter.

I’m talking about supplemental products developed by a reputable company.  I’m talking about products backed by research that will say “this will 100% help you.”  Or the research is leading to the conclusion it will help, but more objective studies need to be done.  That is what I’m talking about.

Meal replacement shakes, a protein powder, a meal replacement bar, omega fatty acids, multi-vitamins, those are some of the items I’m talking about.

So can supplements be taken by youth athletes?  I say yes.  Here is my argument and would love to hear your comments in the box below.

First, my youngest is almost 3 and drinks her mommy’s Meal Replacement Shake almost daily.  She loves the taste and is very healthy.  I know that she is getting a nutritional drink with equal carbs, proteins, and some vitamins and minerals that are good for her.  It is better than drinking some of the sugary drinks I see a lot of kids her age given by the parents just to shut them up.

Also, do you see the snacks these kids eat?  Cheezits, ritz bits, pop tarts, doritos, cheese puffs, cookies, candy, chicken nuggets, fries.  Yuck!  I know how healthy those items are.  Zero nutritional value.  They are contributing to obesity, diabetes, and other health concerns in kids.

Ideally, some healthy foods for snacks would be great, but sometimes as parents we get in a rush and those healthy foods takes some time to prepare.  Why not give the kid a meal replacement bar or shake when they need a snack?  Something that takes little time to prepare.  I do know what goes into them.  Maybe there is some hesitation with some of the ingredients, but c’mon the potential for good nutrients getting in your system with supplements is far better than all of those snacks I named before.

Having seen a lot of the foods my athletes eat, they don’t make the greatest choices.  If we provide them with supplemental options to eat before a competition or inbetween meals, I think they would be better served.  They would have a better chance of receiving the proper nutrition they need to work at optimum levels.

Just think how your athlete would feel if you replaced those doughnuts they eat for a mid-morning snack with a meal replacement bar.  Tons of sugar and fat replaced with a little sugar, fiber, protein, and quality carbs.  Hmmmm.

Finally, this isn’t supposed to be a long plug for the supplements I endorse.  You should do your own research.  But, I use Advocare products.  I’ve used them for 3 years now and they are the best I’ve had in my 20 plus years of taking supplements.  If you go to http://advocare.com/07111072, at the bottom of the page, I have links set up for some athlete bundles.  Feel free to take a look at them.

At the very least, I hope this post got you thinking.  Don’t spread a wide negative brush over all supplements.  There are different categories, just know which ones are right for you and I think you’ll really benefit from them.