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Teen Gains

Supplements may be a shortcut toward your ideal body type, but buyer beware

Atticus Ahearn, Photo Editor

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Competitive and recreational student-athletes alike often find that food and water alone simply do not provide the nutrients needed to remain energized and strong throughout their daily rigorous routines. Many serious athletes have invested in supplements, also known as ergogenic-aids, which promise a better start, end, and/or recovery to a workout.

However, some supplements are dangerous and may contain deadly substances, but they are not steroids and most are easily-accessible on the shelves of places like Max Muscle and GNC. In fact, these companies encourage young athletes to come into their stores and try their products just like in an adult would.
An article from the Max Muscle website titled “Protein and Teen Athletes” ended with, “Supplements can be much less expensive than dietary sources… So make sure you stop by your local Max Muscle and have one of our Sports Nutrition Specialists get you started”.

It makes sense that a company would encourage their target consumers- student athletes being a small fraction- to buy their products, but the ethics of promoting certain types of supplements is up for debate.
Products are quite consistently discontinued after health risks are discovered, but the consumers who serve as guinea pigs knowingly take these risks in hopes that the scientists who developed them were right about their positive effects. In some cases, the supplement appears to fulfill its job; in others, it can induce painful side-effects or not work at all. For teens and young adults, this risk is too high.
Despite how much the risk outweighs the potential reward, some hardcore athletes utilize multiple supplements: some for a kickstart, some for gaining lean muscle mass, some for better recovery, and some for all of the above.

Senior Nick Corriere is one such athlete whose ‘stacking’ of supplements comes with his passion for bodybuilding. As a National Physique Committee (NPC) Men’s physique competitor, he spends most of his time at the gym. His stack includes: whey protein, creatine, BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), a pre-workout, arginine, DAA (D- aspartic acid), L-Carnitine, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), glutamine, and a multivitamin.

For the average athlete, most elements of that list are daunting and unfamiliar. Luckily, the human body makes most of these nutrients on its own and the others are obtained through food.

Izzie Brown, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and lecturer at San Jose State with a master’s degree in Exercise Science, is a firm believer in the power of food. She understands how athletes’ bodies work and what they need to power through the day. With a stronger diet, such intense supplementation is not needed. Food contains most essential amino acids which are the proteins that the body needs, but cannot make on its own. Certain foods can even help athletes whose bodies sometimes demand more of the non-essential amino acids (naturally-produced proteins).

Brown doesn’t recommend supplements in general because most have little research to support their usage and they are not replacements for nutrition, they are what they are called- supplements to a healthy diet. It is not illegal for young athletes to ‘stack’ or supplement, but it is highly recommended for young people in general to focus on a sturdy, healthy diet first.

“Exercise requires energy,” Brown said. “That is not what you get in supplements. What good is a car full of oil, if you don’t put gas in it?”

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The Student News Site of Branham High School
Teen Gains