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Are supplements beneficial for athletes?

Last Modified: June 24, 2021

Sports & Exercise

If you exercise regularly, you undoubtedly want to get the most out of your efforts. The same is true for athletes and their sport of choice as they push their bodies to perform at their best. While athletes can do well without taking supplements, they may help provide the boost they need to meet their goals in certain situations. For this reason, we asked Sami Kauffman, MA, RD, CSSD, LD, sports dietitian, Parkview Sports Medicine, to walk us through the three supplements she recommends for athletes when used properly.

  • Caffeine: While we do not recommend caffeine for youth, high school or college athletes, it can be helpful in the correct dosages. Caffeine is well known for providing a boost of energy, but too much can make you jittery, shaky or irritable. As a result, there tends to be some trial and error to find the appropriate amount.
  • Whey protein: This supplement is made from dried milk products. It is a bioavailable form of protein that is fast-absorbing and can help fill gaps or nutrient deficiencies. Most protein often requires preparation and isn’t as readily available as other nutrients, like carbohydrates. Therefore, whey protein powders can be a convenient healthful source for adding more protein into your diet.
  • Creatine: This supplement can assist with muscle building. For best results, we recommend athletes take it consistently throughout their training or season rather than intermittently. Lastly, athletes can easily mix small amounts of unflavored creatine into almost any beverage for a muscle-building boost.
Final thoughts

Remember, supplements are not necessary to reach peak performance for most athletes. Instead, whole foods and a well-tailored diet plan can provide the proper amount of key nutrients an individual needs to be a well-honed athlete and perform at their best.

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