A new analyst report suggests that the sports nutrition market will grow massively over the next five years. This growth is being driven by an increased awareness of the importance of nutrition in any sporting activity. That would include from the novice level through to elite performance.
Warnings about sports nutrition supplement quality
One thing that could undermine this growth is the increased levels of contaminants in some products. If manufacturers do not show due diligence in their production techniques then the risk of contamination is elevated. Certainly at the elite level of sport a positive doping test would be catastrophic for an athlete’s career. Perhaps of more concern are supplements purchased from unknown suppliers via the internet. Obviously contamination is still a major concern here but now the type of contaminant is also an issue. Certain contaminants may ultimately produce a severe risk to health. To be sure the supplements you use are safe purchase them from a reputable source. Ideally your supplements should also be batch tested and have IOC certification. You are looking for the producer to have pharmaceutical standards in place. You are looking for ISO17025, this is the pharmaceutical production certification standard.
Who is advising you about Sports Nutrition?
There are plenty of trainers willing to offer advice about what supplements you should be taking. I would feel fairly safe in saying that the bigger majority of them are not qualified to offer any nutrition advice, let alone advice on sports nutrition. You want at least a degree in nutrition so either a registered nutritionist (RNutr) or dietitian. You then require a further qualification in sports nutrition on top of this under-pinning knowledge. Ideally a Masters in sports nutrition, the IOC is the most recognised of these or post graduate qualification along the lines of the Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA) qualification. Hopefully this makes it very obvious that a short course or reading a couple of books is not sufficient knowledge or understanding to be able to offer prescriptive advice.
Lots of gyms now sell supplements, predominately protein powders, energy bars and energy drinks. It is debatable as to whether their members require any of these. For the average gym goer training three to five times a week they would most probably be better off just ensuring they have a well-balanced diet that contains sufficient energy to meet their overall energy needs. They then just need to ensure they are eating the right types of meals (in terms of macronutrients) at the right time. For a small minority certain supplements might be beneficial but that should be properly assessed by a suitably qualified individual (as stated above). In my experience working with a wide range of athletes from club amateur through to elite level the first thing that needs restructuring is their day-to-day diet. Once this is sorted out I will then consider whether supplementation is required. But do not lose sight of the fact that the clue is in the title – These products are supplemental to the overall diet and not a substitute or miracle cure for a poor diet.
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