Choosing the Best Sports Supplement for You

Building on last month’s blog about clean third-party tested supplements, this month I’d like to touch on supplement choices. Often times we see athletes stacking a variety of supplements for a number of reasons. When asked where they had learned to stack upwards of 8-10 supplements together, their reasons range from seeing others at the gym to talking to the guy at the supplement shop.

While we do use supplements with our athletes, we do this under a collective effort involving exercise physiologists, physicians, and strength and conditioning coaches. Some of the items we evaluate include: phase of training an athlete is currently in, duration of the particular training phase, training volume, cross training sessions and body composition goals.

From there we start to take a look at the supplements that best suit the energy systems we are aiming to improve. These supplements may include: beta-alanine, creatine monohydrate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, beetroot powder, casein protein, whey protein isolate, meal replacements, whey-carbohydrate recovery blends, branched-chain amino acids, electrolyte-repleting formulas, and caffeine. I should note, we never introduce a supplement until an athlete has a grounded understanding on meal timing and portion sizes to ensure they are meeting their macro- and micro- nutrients required to meet the demands of training. And with supplements, we introduce one at a time to truly understand any side effects and training responses an athlete experiences.

Are all of our athletes on these products? No. The type of supplements taken depends vastly on the sport at hand and the training phase an athlete is in.

Will they eventually cycle through each of these supplements at one point or another throughout a training year? Most likely. For an athlete who is primarily training to develop power – will they see benefits in taking an electrolyte-repleting formula? Likely not if they are well hydrated entering their training session. What about creatine for an athlete in the power-phase of their training? Now we’re talking!

Before you start stacking a variety of supplements – think, what am I training for? What energy system am I tapping into? Will this supplement complement my training or am I simply wasting my money on something I clearly do not need?