I’m not a nutrition coach, and I haven’t had any schooling on the subject so I’ve been going around the internet researching as much as I can. I’ve made sure to use only the most trusted sources and compiled the best 3 articles.
Should Kids Younger than 18 Take Supplements?
This question had never even crossed my mind before I started my research…
I started taking supplements when I was 13, and I haven’t felt any negative effects from it yet. Protein supplements have been an integral part of my training experience for about 8 years now.
From what I’ve read, it seems like the sports focused dietitians don’t give protein supplements a second thought while the normal dietitians speak out against kids using protein supplements. The general argument is that with some thought and planning, you can get all the protein you need in your daily diet.
The problem with that is that student athletes simply don’t have the time in their busy schedules to eat enough quality food…
Jenna Braddock, a successful and knowledgeable dietitian who teaches at the University of North Florida, gives us an example of a football player in high school who is busy from 6:30 am to 5:55 pm at school and practice. And as we know, a similar schedule can be expected for a high school baseball player.
While this schedule might sound cruel and unusual, this is the life of a high school student athlete. In her article, under the “How to use a Protein Supplement” subheading she gives four ways to get your protein in at the right time.
The whole article is great but towards the end she is clearly trying to sell a product. She is very knowledgeable but if you want to buy what she’s selling do your research first, as I haven’t done any on the product itself.
I suggest the article for all of the great content beforehand.
Luke Corey brands himself as a “Performance Dietitian” and works for EXOS at the UCLA Health Sports Performance Center. Everything he says in his article is geared towards youth athletes. I really like this article because it is about total health rather than just muscle growth.
If we know that student athletes have a hard time getting the right amount of protein in, what other vitamins and minerals are kids generally not getting in and what are the effects? He goes over the answers to that question in this article.
At the end of his article he says, “Hydration affects performance more than any other nutritional factor.” This is the easiest thing your ball player can do throughout the day, and according to Corey, it will be the most effective.
When I was in high school I would carry a gallon jug of water around school and try to drink the whole thing through out the day. Usually I could do it, but even when I couldn’t, I could tell I was drinking a lot more water then I usually did. I made it a game for myself which made me drink as much as I could.
It made me feel a lot better not just at practice but also in the classroom (It didn’t instantly make me smarter, but it helped me stay awake and focused).
This is my last recommended article and my favorite. It’s written by two well known doctors who really know what they’re talking about and it’s easy to read and understand.
It goes over, in order, the most important parts of supplementing a growing athlete, and not so surprisingly protein supplements come 3rd on the list.
The article also talks about creatine and pre-workout supplements. It goes over the pros and cons, but I personally do not recommend these supplements for anyone under 18 years of age.
Creatine is known to give quick and noticeable results in a short time but I’ve noticed that when you stop taking the creatine supplement, you almost immediately lose your progress. It also is very tough on the liver even for someone who drinks a lot of water. It also dehydrates you so however much water you drink, you need to drink 1.5X more.
As for pre-workout, most supplements are packed with caffeine and people who like taking pre-workout before a lift find themselves just a year later unable to have a quality lift without the supplement. Caffeine is a drug and should be treated as such especially by younger athletes.
This article states, “The best pre-workout supplement is that 8-9 hours of sleep the night before starting exercise.” and I completely agree.
Sleep is the most underrated supplement because you can’t sell sleep supplements to people who don’t have problems sleeping so you never see anybody advertising a full night’s rest.
Similarities in the Articles
All three articles stress hydration. They all say something along the lines of how a dehydrated athlete is sluggish and isn’t getting the most out of his/ her body. Not only does the athlete not work as hard, but the body doesn’t rebuild itself as quickly or efficiently.
They all call protein the ‘building block of skeletal muscle’ and that the best time to take protein is 30 minutes after a workout. Also, generally agreed upon is the idea that 0.5 – 0.7 grams/ pound of body weight/ day is a good amount to aim for (including protein found in the food you eat every day).
All three articles state that is possible (and recommended) to get your protein in through whole foods every day rather than through supplements. But, they all admit that it is difficult and if you have a hard time doing that, supplements are the way to go. They are also all concerned with getting a quality source of protein. Whether it is through whole foods or supplements, make sure it isn’t a fatty source or from a sketchy protein supplement brand.