By: Tone House Registered Dietitians Ryan Turner & Elli Kmiec

As a Registered Dietitian, I take a mindful and conscientious approach when recommending supplements to my clients and athletes. Many supplements promise results that are attractive and sound as if they’ll for sure take you to the next level. The unfortunate truth is that many of these promises are too good to be true, and may be overpriced, ineffective, and possibly unsafe.

Here are some rules of thumb to follow when choosing to incorporate a supplement into your diet. 

All supplements should have a third party testing seal:

  • NSF Safe for Sport products do not contain any of approximately 270+ substances banned by major athletic organizations. The contents of the supplement actually match what is printed on the label. There are no unsafe levels of contaminants in the tested products. The product is manufactured at a facility that is GMP registered and audited twice annually for quality and safety by NSF International.
  • Informed Choice recognized international manufacturing standards and limits the likelihood of taking unsafe and banned substances.
  • Few supplement companies hold themselves to strict standards of safety and efficacy, like Thorne who professionals believe to be the unquestioned leader in quality and innovation in the sports nutrition supplement industry.

The Nutrition Priorities Pyramid:

When deciding if supplements are right for you, besides confirming its safety and a science-backed role for our health and performance, it is important to rule out that we cannot get it from our diet first. The Nutrition Priorities Pyramid above is a great tool to use as a “check-list” to ensure we are doing everything we can to hit our performance and lifestyle goals from food first before relying on supplements. Approach the pyramid from the bottom up: are you meeting your energy needs, do you have the proper macronutrient distribution, are there micronutrients (vitamin and mineral) deficiencies in your diet, are you timing your meals for your exercise and daily life parameters.

Once you’ve ruled out that nutrition through whole foods and lifestyle can’t support your complete needs (ie protein, omega 3, vitamin D, etc) or you’ve discussed with your doctor that a medical condition requires supplementation (ie malabsorption), then there may be supplement options that can support health and athletic performance. Below are a few that may support your performance along with general recommendations.

***For your health and safety – before supplementing your current activity and lifestyle with any dietary supplement it should be discussed with a Registered Sports Dietitian, RD, CSSD (Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetic) and your primary care physician***

  • Multivitamin (general health): may support coverage of dietary and lifestyle habits that lack essential nutrients. According to Physicians Healthy Study II, may reduce risk of cancer and cataracts (every athlete’s needs vary, depending on blood work, medical history, and dietary deficiencies – multivitamins may be more or less effective and necessary)
  • Vit D3 (general health/sports nutrition): may reduce fat mass and increase lean mass; supports immune health, bone health, and may reduce inflammation (>1000 IU daily)
  • Omega 3 fish oil (general health/sports nutrition): may reduce inflammation, muscle soreness, body composition, exercise-induced asthma, joint soreness, and enhance brain health (3 g daily)
  • Protein whey/casein/plant based (general health/sports nutrition): muscle maintenance and repair (above 0.55 g/# for general population; 0.8-1.1 g/# for active and resistance based activities)
  • Creatine (general health/sports nutrition): may increase lean mass, strength, sprint performance, anaerobic power (3-5 g daily)
  • Beta-alanine (sports nutrition): may buffer muscle acid by increasing muscle carnosine levels, enhancing muscular endurance. Best for training or events lasting 60-240 seconds (2-5 g daily)
  • HMB: leucine metabolite shown to provide anabolic and anti-catabolic properties on lean body mass (3 g daily)
  • Nitric Oxide Booster/Beet Root Powder (sports nutrition): increases nitrates and may improve aerobic endurance performance. (10 grams beetroot powder = equivalent of 6 juiced beet/16 ounces juice)
  • Tart Cherry Juice (sports nutrition): recover faster thanks in part to less muscle damage, inflammation, and soreness (6-8 ounces concentrate twice daily)
  • Caffeine (general population/sports nutrition): increases energy, stamina, alertness (200-400 mg 30-60 minutes before activity)

Ones of interest that I continue to expand my knowledge of:

  • CBD: athletes may find it useful for pain though more research is needed (more research needed)
  • Meriva: curcumin in this form may reduce muscle soreness and inflammation post-workout (1 g twice daily)

Be aware of:

Fat Burners, Proprietary blends, Cleansing supplements, Anabolic steroids. Anything that sounds too good to be true, probably is. 

Interested in learning if supplements can enhance your performance on the Turf? Schedule a complimentary Discovery Call with one of RD’s and receive a personalized recommendation.

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